fri 25/07/2014

Victory on the Fourth Plinth | Visual arts reviews, news & interviews

Victory on the Fourth Plinth

Will Yinka Shonibare reign victorious with his new Fourth Plinth commission?

A model of Yinka Shonibare's 'Nelson's Ship in a Bottle'Photo: James O'Jenkins

From his tall column in Trafalgar Square, Admiral Lord Nelson won’t be able to glimpse the new work on the Fourth Plinth, since he faces the other way. But of all the works that have occupied this space – from Marc Quinn’s Alison Lapper Pregnant, to Antony Gormley’s One & Other – the latest must surely be the one that would please him most: a model of his own ship, HMS Victory, displayed in a huge bottle.

From his tall column in Trafalgar Square, Admiral Lord Nelson won’t be able to glimpse the new work on the Fourth Plinth, since he faces the other way. But of all the works that have occupied this space – from Marc Quinn’s Alison Lapper Pregnant, to Antony Gormley’s One & Other – the latest must surely be the one that would please him most: a model of his own ship, HMS Victory, displayed in a huge bottle.

Yinka Shonibare, an Anglo-Nigerian artist, was keen to reflect on the historical symbolism of Trafalgar Square, which was built to celebrate Britain’s victory in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Indeed, he’s the first artist to respond to its historical legacy, for Nelson’s victory ensured that Britain ruled the waves, and that out of an empire a global market and eventually a multicultural city would arise.

Shonibare has said he is keen to celebrate the complex cultural relationships that are the outcome of Nelson's legacy. The ship’s 37 sails are made of Shonibare’s signature material: highly decorative Dutch wax textile. The fabric may be associated with Africa but the patterns are in fact Indonesian-influenced and were produced by the Dutch for sale to the African market. Today, Shonibare buys it in bulk from Brixton market in south London.

 

Share this article

Add comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Use to create page breaks.

More information about formatting options

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 7,000 pieces, we're asking for £2.95 per month or £25 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters