Recycled steel is turned into African art

Recycled steel is turned into African art

The world has too much waste – this is a message that has been relayed so often that many people have started to become numb to its implications. However, artists around the world have started to think seriously about the issue and are seeing waste as a valuable resource for their works. African artists, in particular, have taken to using scrap metal as a medium for sculptures.

Steel sheets, bearings, engine components, oil barrels, nuts and bolts; these are the sought-after materials that are used in African recycled art. They are tough, durable and pliable – making them an ideal material to work with. The sculptures created from recycled steel have character and flair, which is why they are so popular.

Molo Wethu has various animal sculptures on sale that are made from recycled metals. We have a quirky dung beetle, a charismatic African hornbill, a cute African meerkat and even a fully-functional recycled radio, to highlight a few. These sorts of works of art are becoming increasingly popular due to their durability and unique characteristics. Each handcrafted sculpture has a soul and no two are alike. 

What is recycled art?

Every day, usable metals and quality materials are thrown away. These scrap metals have value and often cost a great deal to replace. Artists first started using discarded metals in the early 1900s, giving rise to the genre of recycled art. The idea is to take something unwanted and give it new life – turning it into something valuable and desirable.

These materials are often found dumped or sourced from scrap yards. The artists have a keen eye for scrap metals and are able to imagine endless possibilities for recycled materials. Recycled art is a creative process that turns discarded materials into something with purpose. It is the idea of taking waste and giving it value once again.

There are no limits to what materials can be used; plastic, glass, metal, rubber and wood have all been mediums for recycled art. However, metals are the strongest and last the longest, which is why many African artists opt to use steel for their creations. Recycled art can also take the form of three-dimensional sculptures or two-dimensional ‘canvases’ that hang on the wall.

Advantages of recycling metals into sculptures

Recycled art holds many advantages and benefits, not just for the environment but for the artists too. Metal, glass, plastic and rubber are all examples of manmade materials that take hundreds of years to break down. When dumped in the environment, these materials pose a threat to animals and ecosystems for many years to come. 

Artists harness the durability of waste and use it to make long-lasting sculptures. This removes pollution from the environment and extends the life of usable scrap materials. Recycled art prevents these non-perishable materials from escaping from landfills, which can happen often. It minimises the volume of recyclable materials that are discarded and reduces the potential of these materials to end up in the environment.

Recycled art also benefits the artist. It is often used as a form of self-employment where artists can earn a stable income from selling their works. The scrap materials are often sourced for free, but the time and skill that goes into creating the sculptures is what gives them value. It is also a creative outlet that is often therapeutic for the artist. The act of creating something from recycled waste has many mental benefits for the sculptor.

By purchasing recycled art, the buyer is contributing to the welfare of the artist and the environment. They are supporting families and Mother Nature through their involvement. These sculptures available in our online store are handcrafted by African artists that play their part in supporting the environment and giving waste materials a second life.


To learn more about Molo Wethu and our bespoke African artworks, please do not hesitate to contact us. Molo Wethu sources, collects and distributes a variety of unique African paintings and sculptures. Visit our online store to purchase these artworks for your home or office – they are ideal for art collectors, travellers and gift-givers.

Molo Wethu supports the needs of differently-abled humans. A portion of the sales from selected products will be donated to organisations that help children with Autism and Asperger’s syndrome in South Africa. This also helps to raise awareness of mental health issues in Africa. 

We are able to deliver artworks around the world. To stay up-to-date with the latest news and Molo Wethu product launches, follow us on Facebook and Instagram. Take a look at our blog for more informative articles on African art, empowering artists and mental health.


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