It’s probably been a year since I visited a gallery, so this past Sunday, I decided to head down to the Brighton Museum. Yinka Shonibare’s installation- The British Library’ was on show as part of the Brighton festival, and was one not to miss. I first came across the artist after seeing his work ‘Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle’ (the 3rd picture) commissioned on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square, London. I love how he integrates the Dutch wax print what is known in West Africa as the Ankara material to his art work, exploring the construction of identity and the interrelationship between African and European histories.
This 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 Britain, 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 (b.1962) was born in London and moved to Lagos, Nigeria at the age of three. Over the past decade, Shonibare has become well known for his exploration of colonialism and post colonialism within the contemporary context of globalisation’
source- housefestival.org. , pictures by me.
The British Library by Yinka Shonibare