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Fibreglass for his art

Shayal Devi
Sunday, November 26, 2017

MOST people who are artistically talented have a unique way of seeing things in a different light.

As such, many of their projects and works may create a lasting impression on those around them.

And if you have travelled to Ba, you may have noticed the statues commemorating sugarcane farming, situated just beside the entrance of the town.

The artist behind the project is Richard Devendra, a man who has gone through immense struggle to get to where he is today.

Originally from Lautoka, Richard Devendra moved to Ba almost 23 years ago.

Having planned his first wedding in the 1990s, Devendra says being a wedding planner is something he has not tired of yet.

However, his profession hasn't dulled his determination in other artistic fields. He has dabbled in signwriting, sculpting, painting and decorating but his most prominent skill is creating artwork from fibreglass.

This vision and skill led Devendra to win big at the 2013 Fiji Development Bank Small Business Awards, a first for him.

He won the Professional and Business Services category for sole traders, the Special Award (for having a unique business) and the inaugural Small Business of the Year category, creating history by becoming the first entrant to win three awards.

The road to success hasn't been an easy one for the father-of-three.

He started his career in 1982 as an assistant welder for his brother-in-law, before investing in his own signwriting business in the Sugar City — Richard's Signs and Graphics.

Devendra found his calling in 1999 when he decorated his niece's wedding. It was after this impromptu gig that people started to pay attention and before he knew it, he had acquired a small clientele, enough to start a business.

His reputation as a wedding planner strengthened after attending a wedding planner course directed by the Australian Wedding Incorporation in 2006.

His company Dreamz Wedding Planner became operational in November, 2012, after securing shop space in Ba Town.

"I really enjoy what I do," the 54-year-old says.

"There have been some very big projects I have been involved in and many major weddings at a lot of the resorts and hotels across Fiji.

"I prepare the material to decorate wedding places and we use local products and if there is a need, we will also get materials from overseas."

Apart from wedding planning, he is also heavily involved in the creation of fibreglass art. Some of his notable artwork includes the Ba millennium project, a soldier standing at the ex-servicemen's park and the soaring eagle located in Ba Town.

"I have been involved in a lot of work and that includes making floats. I remember thinking about art once and I thought, 'why not use fibreglass to make sculptures?'

"We then experimented and found the structures were everlasting and fibreglass is a good material for this."

One of his recent works was preparing the float for Miss Ba during the Miss Fiji pageant.

"With my artwork, honestly, it can take me either two days or two months to finish. It all depends on my mood.

"I love this and what I do and I plan on continuing what I do in years to come," Devendra said.

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