Language of art

In the hills of Papua New Guinea, Tote Gallardo teaches children some art. Picture: SUPPLIED

In the hills of Papua New Guinea, Tote Gallardo teaches children some art. Picture: SUPPLIED

HE calls himself an “internationally homeless guy”.

Tote Gallardo has been to so many countries around the world that he says he has no one to return to back at home. He says he comes from one of the countries that border the famous Amazon forest.

While he is not forthcoming about his home country, it may be Brazil or Peru judging by his accent.

“You can write whatever you like,” he says with a laugh.

“But I am an internationally homeless guy. I have travelled to 76 countries and practically worked and lived on the streets including right up to the most remote jungles and forests.”

The 53-year-old is an artist. He has been travelling since he was in his early 20s, making a living from his art exhibitions and travelling whenever the bug hits him.

From Korea, Cambodia, Russia, to the jungles of Zimbabwe and other African countries, Tote has enjoyed every moment sharing his art with children in orphanages and vulnerable communities.

“I first started doing this work when I was in Africa.

“I saw how the children suffered from social ills including diseases such as cancer and AIDs. It touched my heart and I wanted to make them smile. After many art sessions with them, it gave me the idea to visit many children around the world, from the disabled to the sick. I always find happiness when I get a smile from them.”

Tote was just in New Caledonia and Papua New Guinea prior to touching down in Fiji. This is the first time he is in the Pacific.

“Papua New Guinea is beautiful, I felt right at home there,” he said smiling. “I enjoyed trekking through the mountains to reach some of the most isolated villages as well as travelling by boat to reach some of the remote coastal islands.

“It was fantastic. That country is my favourite place so far.”

The language of art can certainly help make a connection with any person. Tote described how he was able to overcome the language barrier in some of the developing countries by using his artwork.

“I once met this disabled young man in Cambodia, who was quite suspicious at first and did not take to what I was trying to tell him,” said Tote.

“But when I brought out my artwork and my tools for drawing, he started warming up and we spent most of our conversation making signs to each other as we drew art.

“It’s the same in other societies. People often keep to themselves and don’t open up easily, but once I strike up a conversation and show them what I do, they are very receptive. There is no language for art, it is universal and you can connect with anyone through it.”

Tote will be in Fiji for a month to visit orphanages and children’s hospitals to hold art sessions. He has also asked for any organisations willing to allow him to share his work to contact him on newartglassrevolution@gmail.com

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