One of Namibia’s leading and multi-talented Indigenous artists, Fillipus Sheehama, masters several visual art genres such as illustration, printmaking, textiles and installation art. Fillipus produces critical art that addresses the social and political issues of Namibia’s most marginalised communities. Some of his themes include poverty, consumption, victimisation and everyday survival. His art seeks to criticise the income inequality in Namibia that is linked to poverty on the one hand and over-consumption on the other.
The transformation of discarded materials in his art represents poor people in Namibian communities who often have no option than to establish lives around and from remnants of economically empowered households left at dumping sites. His use of discarded materials, such as Barbed wires, plastic, bottle caps, paper and carton symbolize the elements of poverty, destitution and restriction of the economy in Namibia’s disadvantaged communities. Fillipus says:
I see many students coming to art school shaping their art forms, but after they leave they lose their forms that were shaped by education. At school we shape them as young artists, but soon they lose what they have learnt because of the strong influences and beliefs prevalent in their societies. Their journeys change and they are pushed into other ways of making a living. In my art I use the shape of houses, made from barbed wire and plastic, to comment on this lack of foundation and support from our communities towards young artists.
In his installation titled ‘Journeys to ownership’, Fillipus uses the forms of houses to comment on how young marginalised Namibian art students fail to achieve their goals as artists due to economic pressures and disadvantage. As a result, they lose their foundation as artists as they are pressured to pursue different ways of sustaining their livelihoods. Also in this work Fillipus uses discarded materials such as barbed wire and plastic to create an installation of various house shapes and forms which are basic necessity for all human being.