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Yinka Shonibare MBE at Greenwich

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by Bastion Harrison (subscribe)
Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from
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Sculptures for the Royal Museums
The British born Nigerian artist, Yinka Shonibare MBE, was commissioned by Royal Museums of Greenwich to create an installation for each of their historical venues. Each site-specific work is a unique sculpture never before seen in the UK, and is Shonibare's response to his surroundings in the public grounds. They will be on display until the 23rd February, and are included in the price of admission.

As the RMG wanted to focus on themes of Britishness, trade, and imperialism, Yinka Shonibare, whose work explores cultural identity, colonialism, and post-colonialism was the perfect artist of choice.

The Queen's House

From outside The Queen's House, you will be able to see Shonibare's Wind Sculpture. The six-metre installation looks like a colorful billowing sail of a ship, and is designed using a Javan batik pattern. The traditional cloth is coloured with wax-resistent dyes, and represents the conceptualisation of the universe.

fanny's dress, yinka shonibare, queen's house
'Fanny's Dress' by Yinka Shonibare.

Inside the museum you will see Nelson's Jacket and Fanny's Dress staring at each other across the expansive Great Hall. These period costumes are made from Shonibare's signature Dutch wax fabric.

We all know Nelson was shot at the Battle of Trafalgar, but just imagine for a moment that he wasn't. What other way might he have died? Shonibare explores this question multiple times in his The Fake Death Pictures series, which depicts five different ways that Nelson could have died. They all represent a re-imagined death scene created by another artist. These include
Leonardo Alenza y Nieto, Édouard Manet, Henry Wallis, Bartolomé Carducho, and François-Guillaume Ménageot. In the paintings you can also search for hidden objects that are part of the museum's collection.

Royal Observatory

Cheeky Little Astronomer is the universe in a box. Shonibore's spherical sculpture is part of the Royal Observatory's Planets in My Head series, and reflects the dual nature of the space. Humans live inside the universe, but Shonibare has captured the universe in a box.

National Maritime Museum

The final installation is a permanent one. Nelson's Ship in a Bottle is a scaled down replica of HMS Victory that stands outside the National Maritime Museum.
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Why? Fun for art lovers
When: Until 23rd Feb
Phone: 44 (0)20 8858 442
Where: National Maritime Museum, Queen’s House and Royal Observatory Greenwich
Cost: £8-£22
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