Yinka Shonibare studied at the Byam Shaw School of Art and Goldsmiths' College. Shonibare's West African heritage has been at the heart of his work since he started exhibiting in 1988, when he began using ‘Dutch-wax' dyed fabrics, commonly found in Western Africa, both for wall-mounted works (as pseudo paintings) and for sculpted figures. He was a Turner prize nominee in 2004 and awarded the decoration of Member of the "Most Excellent Order of the British Empire". He was notably commissioned by Okwui Enwezor At Documenta 10 in 2002 to create his most recognised work Gallantry and Criminal Conversation that launched him on an international stage. He has exhibited at the Venice Biennial and internationally at leading museums worldwide. In September 2008, his major mid-career survey commenced at the MCA Sydney and toured to the Brooklyn Museum, New York in June 2009 and the Museum of African Art at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC in October 2009. In 2010, Nelson's Ship in a Bottle became his first public art commission on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square.
The Royal Academicians are among the greatest names in contemporary British art. The RAs govern the Academy and are responsible for its direction. The Royal Academy of Arts is governed by 80 Royal Academicians who are all practising painters, sculptors, engravers, printmakers, draughtsmen and architects. On reaching the age of 75 they become Senior Academicians thus initiating vacancies for new Members. Elections are held at regular meetings of the General Assembly, when new Members are voted in by existing RAs.