Photo Credits: Teatro Metaphora

“Every single can is such a beautiful object.”

Oh yes, we agree with the opinion of José António Barros, leader of an association from Portugal named TEATRO METAPHORA. We talked to him for an interview because his association turned cans into artworks for an inspiring project! Dozens of volunteers have contributed to the beautiful art pieces they created, but it was José who had the idea. He contacted us via Facebook to tell us about his work, which we think is great. So, here is what you need to know:

What inspired you to found the association? What is your mission?

Our association developed from a theatrical activity group loving dramatic art. Motivated by the successes we had when holding cultural events in close collaboration with local entities, we decided to set up TEATRO METAPHORA.

Our purpose is to realise sociocultural projects and to generate ideas through diverse programming genres, forms and contemporary artistic expressions, inspired by the desires and cultural challenges of various public segments.

In recent years, we have dedicated most of our activities to sustainable lifestyle topics.

What inspired you to turn cans into artwork?

Every single can is such a beautiful object. Its flexibility and its wide range of colours inspired me. Once I saw a can being thrown away in the street, I felt sorry for it. How could people use this object for just a couple of minutes, and then throw it away? Somehow, that moment made me reflect about how to upcycle used soda cans. We noticed some people still don’t put empty cans in the right bin in order to recycle them, so we wanted people to reflect about their behaviour as consumers. We wanted to raise environmental awareness. Cans can be small treasures for everyone.

What role do cans play for your project? What is special about the material “cans”?

Cans are the main material used in our project. This type of material is very hard, affordable and practical. Also, it’s resistant as it can face heat and water, for example. On the other side, it is very flexible almost as paper. And it’s so light! To create our art pieces, we need a big amount of cans. In the first year, we collected approximately 25 thousand used cans which we turned into artworks later on. People directly felt familiar with it, as everyone recognises the material. It’s the stuff that they normally use. Thereby, our creations allow the public to establish a closer connection to the canvas.

How did people react to this project?

Everybody in the city knew that we were collecting cans, but they didn’t know what we planned to do with them. We wanted to surprise people. Over several months we were working secretly, our door was always closed, so people couldn’t see or even imagine what was going on. After finishing all the artworks, we decided to show them to the world. One night we came together very late to set up the installations in the streets. It was an instant success. Local people and tourists loved it, and they couldn’t hide their emotions when looking at the artworks. Everyday, thousands of photos are taken and people come closer to touch which allows them to recognise the material: “Wow, it’s cans!”

It’s no secret we love cans, in all shapes and sizes. So, thanks to José António Barros and TEATRO METAPHORA for such an incredible und sustainable project with cans! If you want to see more of their project, have a look at these videos:



About José António Barros

Born in Câmara de Lobos, Madeira Island, José grew up to become a creative person. During his adolescence he started to gather cans, as he was fascinated by their variety and colours. At that time, he couldn’t imagine yet that one day he would create beautiful artworks made of cans. He studied performing arts, but as it’s very hard to make a living out of it, he also became a policeman, although that’s not his passion. But what he’s passionate about is life, helping people, giving them the chance to grow and to make a difference in the world.

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