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The Aids Memorial

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Q&A Jonathan Coe, Novelist, 57

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An artist who grew up next to one of Nairobi’s largest dumps puts rubbish to visionary use

“I wanted to give trash a second chance,” says Cyrus Kabiru , 34, who makes art – including highly decorative eyewear – out of wires, pins, bottle tops and other detritus he finds on the streets of Nairobi and around the world. Kabiru, who grew up in a Nairobi slum, started making glasses as a child. “I tried to get my dad to buy me a pair. He was like, ‘I can’t, maybe you design your own.’” There was no shortage of materials, with one of the largest dumping grounds in Nairobi next door . Kabiru began turning junk into spectacles. This caught people’s imagination; now he travels the world showing his art (he also makes bicycles and masks out of waste material) and giving talks on creativity. None of his “glasses” has lenses. “They’re not for seeing better ; they’re for seeing different,” he says.

The Simone Lia cartoon

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