'Criminal Ornamentation' Yinka Shonibare CBE curates the Arts Council Collection
‘Criminal Ornamentation' opens at its first destination, Attenborough Arts Centre, this September. Provocatively referring to early twentieth-century architect Adolf Loos' influential anti-decoration essay ‘Ornament and Crime', Shonibare takes the Arts Council Collection as a starting point to curate an exhibition that revels in pattern and ornament.
In his essay, Loos examines notions of good and bad taste. He condemns the use of decoration and craft as an indication of the lowest level of cultural development, stating ‘the modern man who tattoos himself is a criminal.' This exhibition challenges the idea that ornamentation is a crime and instead embraces colour, ornament and pattern as means of social and political expression. An embroidered evening dress and a metallic clutch bag by fashion designer Alexander McQueen are placed alongside works by the likes of Lisa Milroy, Caragh Thuring, and Bedwyr Williams to blur the boundaries between masculine and feminine, high and low art, cheap and luxurious, craft and art.