Protecting the environment through art

GLOBAL concern over environmental degradation is huge. Governments the world over have joined hands to fight it. The Paris Agreement on climate change to deal with green house gas...

GLOBAL concern over environmental degradation is huge. Governments the world over have joined hands to fight it. The Paris Agreement on climate change to deal with green house gas emissions mitigation is one such measure in the fight against pollution of which 195 nation states are signatories to.

However, it’s not only politicians who are working to protect planet earth, environmental artists are also doing their part. They are working hard by using art to create awareness of environmental issues and cause attitudinal change to turn our approach to taking care of our world around for the better before it’s too late.

In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s the environmental art movement emerged mainly to celebrate the artist’s connection with nature, it is said.
While earlier artists used natural materials and documented their work using photography, contemporary artists are today using a wide range of materials as well as media, techniques and styles to address the negative impact mankind is having on planet earth due to our destructive way of life.

One such contemporary artist is Nana Anoff, a remarkable Ghanaian who is environmentally conscious. He works from his home studio and gallery using his creative abilities and experience to transform scrap metal and all sorts of materials others perceive as waste into amazing pieces of artwork.
Nana Anoff lives in two distinct worlds, the organic and inorganic coexisting side by side. Outside his house is a beautiful green garden with a wide variety of plants and exotic flowers.
The garden is juxtaposed with piles and piles of electronic waste and many other different kinds of “waste” materials Anoff terms as “materials in transition”.
In a one-on-one with EcoWatch at his studio and gallery in Dzorwulu in Accra recently, he described his living and working conditions as day and night.

He says of both worlds: “The two worlds need each other. The differences allow a shift between the two and keeps me on guard to always maintain a balance.”
Anoff finds his inspiration from “Everywhere and anywhere but now more especially from knowing that our challenge with rubbish can also be a major resource depending on how we harness the positives.”
E-waste is a massive challenge in the world today, Ghana is no exception. Places like Agbogbloshie in Accra is a hub for e-waste, it is now said to be potentially the largest dumpsite of e-waste in Africa.
More than 20 million tonnes of waste is produced annually. When they are dumped at landfills, toxics like mercury, lead and cadmium leach into the soil and water. This is hazardous to humans and needs immediate intervention.

Anoff uses his environmentally conscious art to recycle scrap metal which would otherwise may have been found in Agbogbloshie or elsewhere in Ghana adding to the heap.
Anoff says of the future, that it is all about creativity. He advises the youth to apply their knowledge and through the use of their creative skills, find solutions to everyday problems in their communities and the world at large.
“When we see problems as a challenge then we fuel ourselves to conquer rather than fold our arms in despair. Within every problem is opportunity for self-advancement and upliftment. All great achievements have been through solving big challenges at that time. We should positively embrace hope and know that God gives us the direction and know how to fulfil our destinies.”
Politicians are doing their part to reduce pollution, so are artists like Nana Anoff.
“My little bit is organising art workshops creating from “waste” materials, starting with the kids. They are more open to ideas, constructive and eager to challenge themselves.”
Through individual efforts, bit by bit we can all take steps to protect the environment. What are you doing to reduce pollution to save planet earth?

By Esi Arhin Turkson