Journey West Africa Through El Anatsui’s Eyes


El Anatsui is a critically-acclaimed Ghanaian sculptor internationally known for his unique bottle-top installations which are made from thousands of pieces of aluminium sourced from bottle recycling stations and sewn together with copper wire to create metallic cloth-like wall sculptures. In 2008 he won the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the Venice Biennale, and in 2017 became the first Ghanaian to be awarded the Praemium Imperiale international art prize. Here are some of the places that influenced El Anatsui into becoming one of the most important active artists to emerge from the African continent.


Today he may live in Nigeria, but El Anatsui was born in 1944 in Anyako, a town in the Volta region of Ghana. Anyako is a town inhabited mostly by the Ewe tribe and lies close to the border with Togo.


Alternatively known as “The Garden City” because of its many beautiful species of flowers and plants, Kumasi is a city in the Ashanti region of Ghana, and one of its largest metropolitan areas.

Considered one of the most acclaimed colleges in Ghana, El Anatsui gained his BA at the College of Art at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi from 1965 to 1968. In 1969 he completed his Postgraduate Diploma in Art Education at the same institution.


Winneba is a fishing port town in the central region of south Ghana.

After graduating from college, El Anatsui started work as a lecturer from 1969–1975 in the Art Education Department at Specialist Training College (now University of Education) Winneba, Ghana.

Nsukka, Nigeria

Nsukka is a town and Local Government Area in Enugu state, which is situated in the southeast region of Nigeria. It is also the birthplace of the first indigenous Nigerian university, founded by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, the first President of Nigeria.

In 1975, El Anatsui moved to Nigeria and began living in Nsukka and working as the Professor of Sculpture in the Fine and Applied Arts Department at University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN). Since then, he has held several positions at the institution:

1982–1996 Senior Lecturer, Fine and Applied Arts Department

1998–2000 Head of Department, Fine and Applied Arts Department

1996–2011 Professor of Sculpture, Fine and Applied Arts Department

To date, El Anatsui continues to live and work in Nsukka Nigeria.


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