Yinka Shonibare MBE (RA)


Adam and Eve
Adam and Eve
Fibreglass mannequins, Dutch wax printed cotton textile, fibreglass, wire, leather and steel baseplates 285 x 230 x 115 cm © 2013, Yinka Shonibare MBE

Recreating the Pastoral

Solo Exhibition at VISUAL Carlow Ireland

6th February - 19th June

Recreating The Pastoral draws the viewer through a series of installations which juxtapose elements of elaborate 18th and 19th C European dress and courtly behaviour with contemporary political sensitivities expressed through Shonibare's use for Dutch wax cotton cloth, itself a culturally ambigious material replete with a colonial history of appropriation.The installations question Euro-centric histories, and are a powerful expression of the complexities inherent in contemporary discourse on post-colonialism and identity. Shonibare's Jardin d'Amour mimics the frivolity and excess of 18th C Europe. The theatrical staging of works. framed within an elaborate artificial maze draw references to the colonial relationship to landscape, and the control and creation of spaces for pleasure by a powerful elite.



Nelsons Ship in  Bottle
Nelsons Ship in Bottle
© 2010 Yinka Shonibare MBE

Yinka Shonibare MBE Nelson's Ship in a Bottle

Nelson's HMS Victory

'Nelson's Ship in a Bottle' originally debuted on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square and is now permantley on display at The Nation Maritime Museum in Greenwich.The work is an incredibly detailed, scaled-down replica of HMS Victory, on which Nelson died during the Battle of Trafalgar on 21 October 1805. It has 80 cannon and 37 sails set as on the day of battle. The fabrics used were inspired by Indonesian batik, mass-produced by Dutch traders and sold in West Africa.


Wind Sculpture Howick Place
Wind Sculpture Howick Place
© 2014 Yinka Shonibare MBE

Yinka Shonibare MBE Wind Sculpture

Commission for Howick Place

Wind Sculpture, a site specific commision, is permanently displayed as part of Howick Place in Victoria, London. Measuring 6 metres by 3 metres, the work explores the notion of harnessing movement, through the idea of capturing and freezing a volume of wind in a moment in time.


Boy Balancing Knowledge
Boy Balancing Knowledge
Fibreglass mannequin, Dutch wax printed cotton textile, books, globe, leather and steel baseplate. 156 x 94 x 120 cm. © 2015, Yinka Shonibare MBE.

Childhood Memories

Solo exhibition at Pearl Lam Galleries Singapore

Opening Reception: 21st January 2016 4pm - 7pm

Exhibition Dates: 21st January - 13th March.

Pearl Lam Galleries is delighted to present an exhibition of work by British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare MBE, opening on 21 January, 2016. In contrast with the artist’s previous work, which addressed universal political concerns, this new series returns to the essence of the imagination, an exploration of the subjective and the subconscious that is inspired by surrealism. For the first time, the artist will utilise his childhood memories in Nigeria, dividing the exhibition into two parts: new surrealist sculptures along with several screen prints.page1image10776 page1image10936 page1image11360 page1image11520 page1image11680  page1image12264

Shonibare draws on surrealism as both an artistic and political movement aimed at the liberation of the human being from the constraints of capitalism, the state, and the cultural forces that limit the reign of the imagination. The first part of the exhibition comprises two new fantastical sculptures based on the artist’s childhood memories when he lived in Lagos, Nigeria. Shonibare was born in Britain, but his family moved to Lagos when he was three years old. These dreamlike sculptures evoke poetic surrealist juxtapositions, exploring the artist’s half-remembered childhood tales, as well as the constructed and fictitious memories of childhood, folklore, and tradition.

Included in the show is Boy Sitting Beside a Hibiscus Flower, a sculpture based on the artist’s memory of his childhood garden in Nigeria. In a dreamlike scenario a boy sits under a giant hibiscus flower shaded from the hot sun, while in Ibeji (Twins) Riding a Butterfly, the artist explores Nigerian folklore about the significance of twins. Known as ‘Ibeji’ within Yoruba culture, twins are a source of anxiety and celebration, regarded as divine beings capable of bringing either affluence or misery to their parents.

In the remaining new sculpture in the show, the artist remembers making magical imaginary journeys through books. In Girl Balancing Knowledge, a girl precariously balances books on her left hand, likely to collapse in a heap. She kicks her right foot over to her left as if in a silent, surreal dance of joy. Education was highly valued in Shonibare’s family, which is why he returned to Britain at 17 years old to sit his A-levels. This work acts as a metaphor that bridges his time in Lagos and London, a move that was driven by his hunger for knowledge.

The artist’s trademark material is the brightly coloured African batik fabric he purchases at Brixton market in London, which can be seen throughout the exhibition. The fabric was inspired by Indonesian design, mass-produced by the Dutch, and eventually sold to the colonies in West Africa where it became a new sign of African identity and independence in the 1960s. The fabric makes up the clothes on the figures of Shonibare’s new sculptures.

For the first time at Pearl Lam Galleries, this exhibition will spread across two spaces at Gillman Barracks. A new space near block 5 will be home to the artist’s new body of work, while Pearl Lam Galleries’ original space in block 9 will be transformed into a screening room which will show two separate documentaries about Yinka Shonibare MBE, allowing visitors to find out more about the artist’s life and practice.

“I’m delighted to be welcoming Yinka Shonibare to our Singapore gallery for his first exhibition here, following on from the success of his Hong Kong show in 2013. Stimulating an artistic discourse is important to Pearl Lam Galleries, and while Yinka’s new body of work draws on surrealism, his work continues to comment on cultural identity, colonialism, and post-colonialism, themes very much relevant to a Singaporean audience.”

—Pearl Lam, Founder, Pearl Lam Galleries 


Globe Head Ballerina
Globe Head Ballerina
2012 Yinka Shonibare MBE

Yinka Shonibare Globe Head Ballerina

Yinka Shonibare's Globe Head Ballerina modelled on The Royal Ballet's Melissa Hamilton.

Globe Head Ballerina is a piece of public sculpture which is currently on display on the side of the Royal Oprea House in Convent Garden. This piece is a life sized work based on a photograph of ballerina Margot Fonteyn.The costume is made of African Dutch wax fabric and the dancer has a Victorian-style globe as her head. Encased within a large snow globe style sphere the ballerina rotates on Pointe. 


To look at previous exhibitions see Press

©2016. All images are property of Yinka Shonibare MBE (RA). Original Website by Moira Stevenson. Website Updated and Maintained by Adam Thornton.