Art Fund Supports £350k Drive To Save Ship In Bottle

4th Plinth Yinka Shonibare sculpture should go to National Maritime Museum

The giant ship in a bottle by Yinka Shonibare, MBE which has delighted the crowds in Trafalgar Square for over a year, is slated to be removed from public view in January 2012. The question is, Where will it go? The National Maritime Museum has expressed an interest in buying the work to keep it on permanent display for everyone to enjoy. The Art Fund has awarded a grant of £50,000 to kick-start the campaign; however £362,500 is still needed. There is only a short period to help secure the work before it goes on to the open market. This is an exciting opportunity for the National Maritime Museum to gain not only a prominent external feature, accessible to all outside the new Sammy Ofer Wing entrance, but also an important addition to the museum’s collection which includes rare paintings and artefacts relating to Nelson and Britain’s maritime history.

Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle is a painstakingly crafted 1/30th replica of Nelson’s HMS Victory, the battleship on which he died during the Battle of Trafalgar on 21 October 1805. The artist calls a ship in a bottle ‘an object of wonder’ and this work has certainly captivated crowds, fast becoming a favourite among Londoners and visitors alike. In common with the original, it has 80 cannon and 37 sails set as on the day of battle. Materials include oak, hardwood, brass, twine and canvas. Its richly patterned textiles – used for the sails – are of course a departure from the original. These were inspired by Indonesian batik, mass-produced by Dutch traders and sold in West Africa. Today these designs are associated with African dress and identity. In such ways, the piece celebrates the cultural richness and ethnic diversity of the United Kingdom, and also initiates conversations about this country’s past as a colonial power.

The work is the first commission on the Fourth Plinth to reflect specifically on the historical symbolism of Trafalgar Square, which commemorates the Battle of Trafalgar, and links directly with Nelson’s column.

Yinka Shonibare, MBE

Born in England in 1962 and raised in Nigeria, Yinka Shonibare, MBE currently lives and works in East London. He studied at the Byam Shaw School of Art and at Goldsmiths College in London, graduating as one of the Young British Artists generation. Over the past decade he has gained international attention by exploring issues of post-colonialism, race and class through a wide range of media including painting, sculpture, photography, film and performance. His work is represented in major public collections all over the world, and in 2004 he was nominated for the Turner Prize.

The artist was awarded the decoration of Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire and has added this title to his professional name. Yinka Shonibare, MBE has exhibited at the Venice Biennial and internationally at leading museums worldwide. The Wanderer by Yinka Shonibare, MBE was ArtFunded for Cartwright Hall Art Gallery in 2007.

National Maritime Museum

The National Maritime Museum’s Sammy Ofer Wing The National Maritime Museum – the largest of its kind in the world – sets out to illuminate the entire history of Britain’s encounter with the sea.The Museum illustrates the importance of the sea, ships, time and the stars and their relationship with people. The museum opened in 1937 in elegant early 19th-century buildings developed around the Queen’s House, which was built for Charles I’s queen Henrietta Maria. Also part of the ‘Maritime Greenwich’ complex administered by the museum is the Royal Observatory in Greenwich Park.

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