An artistic tribute to animals that our children may not know anymore

Their sculptures look delightful, but according to artists Peter Postwyn and Jill Mike Navange, they have one goal: to tackle the problem of endangered animal species.

“What do you think, should I put them on the lawn?” With the utmost care, but also with pride, Peter Postojn and Jill Mike Navange set their ceramic pieces in the garden of the Ghent Studio in Postojn. They look like sculptures from another civilization and at the same time the elephant, whale and turtle feel very familiar. Both gentlemen flirt as friends do. And that’s when they didn’t know each other a year ago. Until those great flicks at Brussels’ contemporary design market for 2021. Postoin displayed ceramic masks there, and Navange, who lives and works in Brussels, displays sculptures in papier-mâché. “I was immediately fascinated by Mike’s visual language and techniques,” Postwin says. We started talking and there was instant communication.”

Question time

The two exchanged songs, but the collaboration only really took off when Hanne Debaere of Flanders DC, who supports the creators, heard about their meeting. With the new research project Binôme, she wants to explore how artists from different cultural backgrounds can access a new formal language that can redefine design and potentially lead to a new movement. She decided that the two were the perfect partners for her first “Binôme”.

But how do you start such a cooperation if you hardly know each other? They say “by asking a lot of questions to each other”. Favorite color? Favorite music? are you religious ? What form of language do you use? The latter proved difficult when Navangi answered “organic,” while Postwin preferred “engineering.” Meanwhile, they have to laugh hard at it.

Endangered animal species

Since they were only able to start this project in February and the time for it was relatively limited, they decided to make ceramic pieces. “There’s an oven in my studio,” Postwin says. I already had experience in making porcelain, Mike works with papier-mâché. So it seemed logical for us to make something with our hands together. Moreover, they find terrestrial, i.e. ultimately ceramics, convenient because it is used by almost all cultures and is therefore universal. And they love its simplicity. “It’s something so humble that you can even find it on the soles of your shoes,” Postwin says.

Soon they agreed on the technique, and the main question was what they were going to make. “We wanted to make something that respected our identity and at the same time was a symbiosis between them,” Navangi says.

Both seem to be related to nature and animals in particular. “We decided to create ten endangered species,” says Postwyn. “Not to point fingers, but to make the case playful.”

Part of the proceeds from the animal sculptures will go to the Virunga National Park in the Congo, led by the Belgian Emmanuel de Merode.
© Hugo Putri

Between art and design

In fact, their tiger, elephant, whale, and crane – to name a few – seem very happy. “So we’re positive guests,” Navangi says. “It should have been a tribute to the animals my kids might not know about anymore.” Nice: A portion of the proceeds goes to Virunga National Park in the Congo, led by Belgian Emmanuel de Merode.

At first, by the way, they did not think about carvings, but, in fact, about flower pots. But we thought that was very specific: We opened it up a little bit. Even sculptures that you can also put something in. But you don’t have to. They balance the boundaries of art and design.

At the beginning of next year, five of the 10 figurines will be available to the wider public: Serax’s in-house company will release them at an accessible price. They both find this important, although this cooperation is not their advantage, but the merit of Flanders DC, they assert.

The carvings look very cheerful, even though they represent an endangered species (here: the tiger). They balance the boundaries of art and design.
© Hugo Putri


Finally, what did they learn from each other? Boston: ‘Mike taught me to be more patient. In the beginning everything had to go really fast for me. On the other hand, Navangi learned to maintain more focus: “We really made each other better. This was more than just an art project, it was a life experience for Peter, Hani, and me. We’ve spent so much time together that Peter is now my brother.

There are now many plans for the future. They want to do a mural together and are thinking of making huge sculptures for their creations. So that continues.

The objects painted by Bostoen and Navangi can be seen on September 24 and 25 at the contemporary design market in Brussels and cost €3,000. Things that Serax will launch in early 2023 will cost around 500 euros.

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