Cambodian Environmental Artist Creates Art Sculptures with Eco-messages

by Gabrielle Marcelo
Ou Vanndy
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In this edition of SEAtizens, we feature Ou Vanndy of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, a sculptor who repurposes discarded metal waste from bicycles and motorcycles to create proud iron sculptures.

 

Cambodian Sculptor and environmental advocate Ou Vanndy showcased his skills and recently created an iron Hanuman sculpture using discarded parts from old motorcycles and bicycles advocating for environmental consciousness.

Ou Vanndy Drawing

Photo from Ou Vanndy

Ou Vanndy Drawing

Photo from Ou Vanndy

 

Ou Vanndy was trained in sculpture at an early age, finishing a degree on Modern Sculpture at the Royal University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. In addition, he went to pursue a higher degree in vocational training at the National Institute of Education.

 

Ou Vanndy Kouprey - Wild Ox Sculpture

Photo from Ou Vanndy

 

In an exclusive interview with SEA Wave, Vanndy shared his thoughts on his usage of recycled metal scraps.

“The rapid increase in waste generation has had a negative impact on our cities. It has polluted our environment, harmed our public health, and made our cities less beautiful. We need to find ways to reduce waste and reuse resources. One way to do this is to create public art from waste materials. Public art made from waste can be beautiful, eye-catching, and thought-provoking. It can also raise awareness about environmental issues and inspire people to take action.” he said.

Vanndy believes there is still use for scrap metals and old materials and with a vision, they can be converted into more than just a creative expression, but also a passion and livelihood.

 

“We are passionate about creating sculptures from old waste materials, such as bicycle parts, motorcycle parts, and household items. We do this out of love, even though we don’t always have the support of others. We believe that our work contributes to a cleaner environment and inspires others to care about waste reduction. We want to see everyone involved in the process of transforming waste into something beautiful, valuable, and that can also generate income to support their livelihoods,” Vanndy added.

A study by Maw Maw Tun, Petr Palacky, Dagmar Juchelková and Vladislav Síťař in 2020 shares the composition of usual waste composition in Southeast Asia – this is comprised by organic wastes (51%), paper (12.9%), plastics (7.2%), glass (4%), and metal (3.3%).

 

Amidst the climate crisis and sustainability issues the world is facing, Ou Vanndy decided to merge his passion for art and vocational education by creating impressive statues.

Talking about his art, Ou Vanndy shares, “we combine Cambodian traditional art forms with new ideas and combinations to create beautiful new sculptures that are meaningful, distinctive, and worthy of pride. Our favorite sculptures are the Kouprey (wild ox) and Hanuman, both of which are deeply embedded in our national identity and represent our priceless art.”

 

Ou Vanndy - Kouprey Wild Ox Sculpture

Photo from Ou Vanndy

 

He erected his latest creation – a 2.4m tall, 1.6m in width iron sculpture. His appreciation for ancient Khamer art and culture (Khamer – art form highlighting Hindu and Buddhist beliefs) inspired him to create the iron Hanuman.

 

Iron Hanuman by Ou Vanndy

Photo from Ou Vanndy

 

The Iron Hanuman is modeled after Hanuman, the God of Wisdom, God of Wisdom, Strength, Courage, Devotion and Self-Discipline. This sculpture isn’t only the artists’ expression of art but it symbolized the possibility of every individual to recalibrate and repurpose waste to create a better and more sustainable world with conscious usage of resources. Ou Vanndy’s work promotes sustainability not only in his home country of Cambodia but also all around the world.

His work also attracted many supporters, as well as their government who allows artists to publicly display their work in open spaces around the capital.

Ou Vanndy’s works have been showcased in exhibitions and locations in Cambodia specifically in Phnom Penh, the Capital of Cambodia.

 

Which sculpture is your favorite? Share your support for Ou Vanndy and his sustainable iron sculptures in the comments section below!

 

SEA Wave magazine’s SEAtizens initiative is a series of inspiring stories of people in Southeast Asia who champion the human spirit by demonstrating courage, ingenuity, generosity, and selflessness.

For more about Southeast Asia and pop culture trends visit seawavemag.com.

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