The best part in all my projects is getting to know a community and their culture(s). The people here in Ongojou on the island of Maoré have been very supportive of the project! I’m always very thankful for the amount of stuff I’m taught and the trust that people give me from the start. I’m brought to believe people trust artists more than polititians, tourists or NGOs. Staying in a same place for several weeks gives me a real feeling of how people live, love, laugh, play, wash, eat, pray, party, and grieve. And it also gives my pupils time to sharpen their skills!

Advertisements

“Zema” is the Shimaoré word for “goodness”. It was chosen by the youth of Ongojou on the island of Maoré. They chose it because it is a core value in the local tales where being good to others always pays off! 69233475_1513328025474967_2711270535928479744_n

 

“Udjama” means unity. The local kids chose this word because their village was formed by people who were kicked out of an owner’s land. But the tight community stood together and found a new place to live where they could acces water and grow crops.

68729253_1511025552371881_6069541151554142208_n

“Uvenzana” is a Shimaoré word meaning “to love each other”. It was chosen by the local kids of the village of Ongojou on the island of Maoré. It’s a word that the kids found in local tales of Ongojou and which they would like to share with everyone

68817341_1508155352658901_3006131259253456896_n

I’m painting in Ongojou on the island of Maoré (Mayotte) off the East Coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean.
I’m painting with the help of local youth, words that have been chosen by the youth themselves. The kids have been learning traditional tales of their community and finding words to represent these tales. Here I wrote the word “maji” (water in Shimaoré) on one of the walls surrounding the well which provides water for the village. They call the well “chissimani” and the tale says that a princess fought the evil spirits around the well and turned into a beautifull tree which guards the well untill this day. This vital well is what enabled the village to develop since it was the only source of freshwater in the area.

It is such a lively and inspiring place to paint in with so many people turning up to wash clothes, dishes or their own bodies. The clothes and the plastic tubs make the place extremely colourful !

68805479_1506685332805903_1629764703842467840_n

I spent the last 4 weeks on this huge project inside my football stadium which was also my “art school” when I was a teenager. The Stade Michel D’Ornano is the home ground of Normandy’s top professional football club : Stade Malherbe Caen. I’ve been attending games here since I was a kid in 1998. When I was a teenager I started designing and painting huge flags and banners for the supporters group. The older lads pushed me to create even more and encouraged me as they sensed potential. I’ve never had a formal art education, so being part of this supporters group (the MNK96) this is the closest thing I have to an school.
This summer I was asked to paint 365m2 of my stand however I wanted. I included symbols of my city Caen, my region Normandy, and of course my football club SM Caen.

While painting these murals I made sure I passed on some of my experience to some younger lads, becoming a teacher in the “school” I used to attend as a pupil. Thank you to M, who helped me all the way! .

I painted this mural for @murmursfestival in Decazeville, France. On the first day of the festival, I met a group of refugees who’d arrived in Decazeville during the last 2 years. Ajoua, a climate refugee from Mali chose the word “Paix” (peace in French). Anjoua 20 years old, reached France a few months ago and doesn’t yet know if he’ll be able to stay. Climate change is drying up his homeland, forcing the Fula herders to bring their cattle further and further across the Sahel region in order to find vegetation. Clashes errupted when the Fula started brining their animals to Dogon territory. The Dogon are mostly farmers and had to defend their crops for their own survival. The clashes have killed hunderds of people and have forced many more to flee. Ajoua told me that this isn’t really an ethnic problem, it’s a climate change problem.

I’ve been hearing these stories across West and East Africa for years. Climate refugees aren’t just something that will happen in the future. It’s happening right now.

64688826_1477432035731233_8577716393590390784_n

65703058_1477432115731225_4437790162776227840_n

(Photos by @alex_gallosi)