Commission
2010

Yinka Shonibare CBE, 'Nelson's Ship' The Fourth Plinth Programme

Trafalgar Square, London, UK

The Fourth Plinth Programme invites international artists to make new works for the capital. ‘Nelson's Ship in a Bottle’ was a scale (1:30) replica of HMS Victory in a bottle. It was the first commission by a black British artist, and the first to reflect on its setting. Trafalgar Square commemorates the Battle of Trafalgar, and links directly with Nelson’s column. The ship's 37 large sails were made of patterned textiles typical of African dress. They are used to show African identity and independence. The work considers the legacy of British colonialism and its expansion in trade and Empire. This was made possible through the freedom of the seas and the new trade routes that Nelson’s victory provided.

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