Pan After presents Juliet Mandongwe
Plastic needs no introduction. As one of modern society’s greatest triumphs — and shames — the everyday object, found in every house, in every slice of the globe makes life so easy, yet causes so much environmental destruction. However some artists, like Juliet Mandongwe, can breathe new life into these objects of utility — and waste — by playing up the material and championing the shape of something as ubiquitous as a bottle of laundry liquid. The Zimbabwean crafter, based in Cape Town, South Africa, presents much more than conceptual art pieces. Resourcefulness drives Mandongwe’s ingenuity. Without the means to buy specialised art and craft materials, she creates decorative vases and vessels using discarded plastic bottles and rubbish bags. The result is a series of pieces that take on a form and character of their own. The bottles themselves show signs of their previous lives, but the artistry and craft transforms them into artistic sculptures in their own right.
Mandongwe has crafted since childhood and has grown to make a living out of it, particularly since teaming up in 1996 with her husband, Richard Mandongwe: An artful wire-worker and candelabra-maker in his own right. “l really enjoy converting other people's rubbish into useful and interesting products and try to help save the environment as well,” says Juliet.
The concept of upcycling and adaptive reuse is always relevant. In their original form, liquid detergent bottles are bright and garish. A tool for everyday life at which we wouldn’t give two glances unless they’re on offer at our local grocery store. In Juliet’s version, their colours and shapes assume new meaning and spark a conversation about how we interpret and perceive certain products. Juliet’s resourcefulness turns our attention to the wider context of how we define value. These Plastic Bottles are simultaneously artefacts of personal consumption and craftsmanship.
Discover Juliet’s Plastic Vessels and see the humble detergent bottle transformed anew.