Yinka Shonibare MBE (RA)
Nelson's Ship in a Bottle
Nelson's Ship in a Bottle
2010 Yinka Shonibare, MBE

HMS Victory Returns to Trafalgar

Yinka Shonibare, MBE's Fourth Plinth Ship To Set Sail in May

The next commission for the Fourth Plinth, Nelson's Ship in a Bottle, by leading Anglo-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare will be unveiled in Trafalgar Square on the morning of Monday 24 May 2010.

Commissioned by the Mayor of London and supported by Arts Council England with sponsorship from Guaranty Trust Bank of Nigeria, Nelson's Ship in a Bottle is a scale replica of HMS Victory in a giant bottle.

The artwork will be the first commission on the Fourth Plinth to reflect specifically on the historical symbolism of Trafalgar Square, which commemorates the Battle of Trafalgar, and will link directly with Nelson's column. It is also the first commission by a black British artist.

The ship's 37 large sails will be made of richly patterned textiles commonly associated with African dress and symbolic of African identity and independence. The history of the fabric reveals that they were inspired by Indonesian batik design, mass produced by the Dutch and sold to the colonies in West Africa. Tying together historical and global threads, the work considers the legacy of British colonialism and its expansion in trade and Empire, made possible through the freedom of the seas that Nelson's Victory provided.

Yinka Shonibare says his piece will reflect the story of multiculturalism in London:

"For me its a celebration of London's immense ethnic wealth, giving expression to and honouring the many cultures and ethnicities that are still breathing precious wind into the sails of the United Kingdom. A ship in a bottle is an object of wonder. Adults and children are intrigued by its mystery. How can such towering masts and billowing sails fit inside such a commonplace object? With Nelson's Ship in a Bottle I want to take this childhood sense of wonder and amplify it to match the monumental scale of Trafalgar Square."

Yinka Shonibare's Nelson's Ship in a Bottle is sponsored by Guaranty Trust Bank who are also supporting Chris Ofili's mid-career survey exhibition at Tate Britain, on view until 16 May 2010. 2010 marks the 50th anniversary of Nigerian Independence. In London this will be marked by these two important exhibitions by leading international artists of Nigerian descent.

 

Yinka Shonibare: Threads of Art
A short documentary about the use of batik fabric in the sculptural works of Yinka Shonibare.
 
©2018. All images are property of Yinka Shonibare MBE (RA).