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Yinka Shonibare MBE The British Library

A HOUSE 2014 and Brighton Festival co-commission

The Old Reference Library
Brighton Museum & Art Gallery

Yinka Shonibare MBE’s new site-specific installation explores the impact of immigration on all aspects of British culture and considers notions of territory and place, cultural identity, displacement and refuge.

Brighton Museum’s Old Reference Library becomes a repository for those, both celebrated and unfamiliar, who as immigrants to this country, made unique contributions to what we regard as ‘British’ culture. Filled with books colourfully bound in Shonibare’s trademark wax cloth (itself a cross-cultural hybrid of Indonesian design and Dutch manufacture), the gold embossed spines identify individuals such as T.S. Eliot, Henry James, Hans Holbein, Kazuo Ishiguro, Zaha Hadid, Mick Jagger, Darcey Bussell, George Frideric Handel, Hammasa Kohistani, Liam Gallagher and Noel Gallagher, Amartya Sena, Anish Kapoor and many more.

Yinka Shonibare MBE’s work makes visible the cultural influences of colonisation and explores the rich complexity of post-colonial cultures. The British Library asks us to evaluate our attitudes to immigration and immigrants.

The Old Reference Library
Brighton Museum & Art Gallery Royal Pavilion Gardens
Brighton BN1 1EE

Yinka Shonibare MBE

Yinka Shonibare MBE is a British-Nigerian artist living in London. He studied Fine Art, first at the Byam Shaw School of Art (1984–1989) and then at Goldsmiths, University of London (1989–1991) where he received his MFA. In 2002 Okwui Enwezor commissioned Shonibare for documenta XI, where he created his most recognised work: Gallantry and Criminal Conversation, which launched him on the international stage.

Shonibare’s work, which ranges from painting and photography to sculpture and installation, has always sought to make visible the cultural influences of colonisation, not just upon those who have been colonised, but also upon the colonisers. Dutch wax textiles have been a signature of his work for many years, and represent the cultural hybridity central to his practice and the rich complexity of post-colonial cultures.

Recent major works include Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle, the first commission on the Fourth Plinth (2010-2012) to reflect specifically on the historical symbolism of Trafalgar Square. The work is now permanently installed at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. Yinka Shonibare’s recent exhibition – FABRIC-ATION – presented at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, featured over 30 works made between 2002 and 2013. It marked the premier of a new series of large sculptures for the public realm, including two Wind Sculptures sited in the Park’s 18th century-designed landscape – each measuring over six metres in height and richly painted with Shonibare’s emblematic batik fabric patterns. His practice explores and prompts questions around our understandings of cultural identity, colonialism and post-colonialism within the context of globalization.

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