Bottle Tops: The Art of El Anatsui

By Alison Goldberg, illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon

Lee & Low Books

ISBN: 9781620149669

Release Date: 5/31/22

The inspiring biography of Ghanaian artist El Anatsui whose handmade sculptures, created from discarded bottle tops, have received international acclaim and been showcased around the world.

​”If you touch something, you leave a charge on it and anybody else touching it connects with you, in a way.” — El Anatsui

El Anatsui has always written his own story. As an art student at the University of Ghana, El noticed that the artists and styles he was studying were grounded in European traditions. Curious about his own culture’s art history, El observed his people and found stories in the fabrics they wore and the way they used recycled goods. He decided to tell these stories through his artwork.

El experimented with different mediums—firing broken clay into new pots and cutting wood into sculptures using a chainsaw. Each time El tried something new, he brought with him the experience of all the experiments he did before. After coming across a discarded bag of shimmering bottle tops, El wondered What was their story? He experimented with the new material—disassembling, flattening, and reshaping—then stitched the tops together with wire. The result were large, flowing tapestries that tell stories about history, culture, and link people together. Today, El’s bottle top sculptures are showcased all over the world inspiring audiences everywhere.

Here is the captivating story of a Ghanaian sculptor whose passion, creativity, and awe-inspiring artwork reminds us that creating powerful art is about being true to yourself.