Illustration portrait of Cyrus Kabiru

Cyrus Kabiru turns trash into fashion accessories

In his hands the metal from a fan, loudspeaker components, computer chips and other unwanted items become fantastical objects.

I really love trash. I try to give trash a second chance. I change it into something else that will still be with us in a hundred years...

His flamboyant glasses give anyone that dares to wear them the appearance of an alien freshly arrived on our planet. Born in Nairobi, Kenya, Cyrus Kabiru has exhibited his works worldwide. We talk to this artist who is anxious to protect the environment he loves.

Where did you get the idea of using recycled materials to make works of art?

Ever since I was young I have loved glasses. But my family was too poor to buy me any real ones. As we live in a place full of trash and odds and ends, my father encouraged me to make my own glasses from trash!

So that’s why you use these materials to make wearable objects?

In fact, waste or trash has its own beauty. Most of us tend to throw it away, get rid of it somehow. I thought it would be possible to find another use for it. And create something that would be useful to us all.

Is recycling these materials important to you?

Very much so! It means I can give a second life to this trash. I find things in various places, and then I change it into something else that will still be with us in a hundred years...

Some of your works are quite impressive, but it's hard to imagine wearing them in everyday life. Do you consider them primarily as works of art?

When I design and make these glasses, I don’t worry about size. In the end, they can be small or large. So yes, my glasses are not only designed to be worn. You can hang them on a wall or display them as you would a painting or sculpture.

Are you aware that you are contributing to safeguarding the environment through your artistic approach?

Absolutely! I love nature. Trash is one of the greatest enemies of the environment, particularly electronic trash such as computer motherboards. If we can’t stop producing them, at least we can reuse them. So yes, for me, recycling what others have abandoned helps save the environment.

Would you encourage other artists to recycle waste in their works of art?

Oh yes! I’d certainly encourage other artists to give trash a second chance, and be fully aware that it’s one way of saving the environment. We’re all winners.

Main picture: Illustration portrait of Cyrus Kabiru

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