African art from plastic bottles

May 2005 -

It’s called the Bottleboy and is just a small, brightly-coloured cap that fits on practically every bottle but it’s what makes empty plastic water bottles easier to recycle. This invention is the brainchild of the Walking Chair developers’ collective in Austria.

It was Amadou Sow, an artist from Senegal who currently resides in Vienna, Austria, who initiated the Bottleboy Dakar project , which took its name from this small bottle cap. The Bottleboy inspired him to encourage a selected group of artists to recycle plastic. The idea was that they would recycle the Bottleboy plastic water bottles to create works of art and in this way make the public more environmentally aware.

The ten young Senegalese artists who together form the Action Bottleboy Dakar collective have used a total of over six hundred plastic bottles to create their works of art. In early March, the results were put on display in the Place l’Independance in Dakar, Senegal. Representatives from the ministry of education were present at the opening ceremony, along with a large local crowd.


Work of art made from plastic bottles

‘The artists have all, in their own way, transformed the humble plastic water bottle into a useful or decorative object’, says one of the co-founders of the collective that calls itself KRN. The bottles have been turned into such items as a vase, a bookshelf, a chair and a clothes hanger. An animated film about the lifecycle of a plastic bottle was shown too.

‘After this project, the artists will look at other ways in which they can use art to encourage people to take better care of the environment’, explains KRN. The campaign, which initially many people were fairly sceptical about, has turned out to be a success. ‘Some people have gone home and set to work themselves, turning empty plastic bottles into other objects.’