Getúlio Damado or the colorful art of recycled junk!

Posted on 02 February 2017.

In Rio de Janeiro, in a patched up tram workshop, this avant-garde upcycling artist makes naive dolls from junk.

Sourcing the raw materials in trash cans, Getúlio Damado's Trash Dolls are a call for better waste management. But also for more peace and love.

With a steady hand, the artist shears, carves, saw, and paints. Barefoot, hat scrunched down over his ears and with mutinous smile, Getúlio Damado is a waste magician. This Carioca eco-artist working in the Santa Teresa district in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) has mastered the art of transforming junk into art.

A Fab Lab in a recycled antique tram

Buttons from yellow pants for eyes, green bottle tops for a mouth, a blue water bottle for arms, red tomato sauce cartons for ears... In a sun beaten street on the heights of Rio there is an odd little art studio. A Fab Lab like no other where colorful stucco statuettes and other naive objects pile up. The most famous of them are the Trash Dolls.

Well protected in an antique tram that is just as multicolored - his first piece of work - Getúlio Damado transforms any waste he can get his hands on. His workshop, Chamégo Bonzolandia, has become a landmark on the cobblestoned streets of Santa Teresa.

Pioneer eco-artist

His work, which he describes as "Brazilian folk art", is a true ode to recovery and recycling. Since the 1980s, this eco-pioneer has been collecting, unearthing and recycling everything he finds in the garbage cans in his neighborhood. "Producing waste must be better controlled. Managing waste more seriously, reducing the surplus of unnecessary waste, my whole lifestyle is based on this," says Getúlio Damado.

His admirers offer him all sorts of rubbish they have gleaned. "From a scrap of plastic, a bit of iron, a piece of wood, I can design something," continues the artist. He is alone in being able to turn a bottle of used deodorant into a flamboyant horse’s head. Or a bottle of empty shampoo into a folk costume for one of his figurines.

From garbage cans to upmarket exhibitions and a second life

Today, the upcycling approach behind Getúlio Damado's Trash Dolls has extended beyond the borders of Brazil. The Chamégo Bonzolandia workshop nestled in its small tram has become THE place to go in Rio, according to Trip Advisor. And his highly sought-after dolls are snapped up all over the world.

But the artist keeps his feet on the ground. He continues to sell his Trash Dolls at the same price. "Living from art is already a victory. Lots of artists have to have another job, but not me. I don’t earn much, but I can live on my art," he says.

He is proud that he can "offer a new lease of life to waste, in someone else's home".

Once set on a pedestal table or a child's bedside table, Getúlio Damado’s works of art become icons of the eco-gesture!

Find out more:

- When industrial waste turns into art
- Martine Camillieri: an artist committed to ecology and the circular economy
- Flowerball, Heath Nash’s bright idea
- Cyrus Kabiru turns trash into fashion accessories
- When art alerts the world to the reality
- The art of accommodating waste
- The art of recycling waste