Fida Finds – El Anatsui’s Amazing Art

Fida Finds are random goodies on different subjects which we find online and turn  into child-friendly Friday posts.

Since this is the last Friday of 2012, we’re seeing the year out with something memorable for older children.

Ever wondered what you might do with a collection of old bottle caps, used evaporated milk tins, aluminum wrappers, bits of wire and Milo chocolate drink containers?

Artist El Anatsui

El Anatsui via CBC

El Anatsui is an artist who was born in Anyako in the Volta Region of Ghana, and lives in Nigeria.  Many years ago, he began to collect what most of us would think of as throw-away items, and to change them into beautiful new forms, quite unrecognizable from their humble beginnings unless you look very closely.

Art by El Anatsui

via textileartcenter

Some of El Anatsui’s pieces are huge, and must be made of thousands of  bits of discarded metal, all carefully linked with copper wire. You could be forgiven, at first sight, for mistaking one of his installations for an enormous kente cloth because that’s exactly what some of them look like!

Art by El Anatsui 3

via textileartcenter

Here’s another wonderful piece called New World Map (you can see why).  Measuring 350 x 500 cm or 11ft x 16 ft, it was recently sold for a lot of money – proving that, with a “little” added imagination and work, garbage can be very valuable!

El Anatsui installation titled New World Map

via artdaily.org

Apparently, El Anatsui doesn’t mind having his installations rearranged in an exhibition – he believes we’re all artists at heart, and he encourages curators to use their own instincts in draping and folding.

Sometimes, though, he does give directions. Here’s an installation below entitled Open(ing) Market, which consists of lots of metal boxes with commercial labels visible on the insides.  You’ll also notice the red crescent moon shapes on a black background on the outside of the boxes, a pattern painted on the metal trunks used some years ago by West African students to carry their clothes and provisions for the term.

Perhaps El Anatsui was thinking back to his own schooldays! The boxes are arranged facing one direction, so that from behind, all you see are the black and red patterns.  When you walk round to the front however, you are met with a burst of color and some recognizable brands!

Boxes in installation by El Anatsui

via Juli Leonard / newsobserver.com

What sort of art exactly is this?  Well we’ve seen descriptions ranging from “metal textile” and “metal art” to “sculpture”.  El Anatsui is a university professor of art in Nigeria, when he isn’t traveling to present his work around the world.

Teachers and parents can find a good, adaptable lesson plan online for introducing children to El Anatsui.

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