Thursday 17 November 2016
BRITISH COUNCIL UNVEILS FIRST OUTDOOR SCULPTURE BY YINKA SHONIBARE MBE(RA) IN LAGOS, NIGERIA
The British Council – the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities – today unveiled the first ever outdoor sculpture in Nigeria, a work by Yinka Shonibare MBE(RA). Wind Sculpture VI, a fibreglass work six metres high by three metres wide, will go on display in Ndubuisi Kanu Park in Ikeja, Lagos as part of the British Council’s UK/Nigeria 2015–16 season, which aims to build new audiences, create new collaborations and strengthen relationships between the two countries.
This is the first solo presentation in Nigeria by Shonibare, who was born in London and moved to Lagos as a child. The artist will travel to Nigeria for the unveiling of the sculpture, giving a talk to students and attending a screening of a selection of his film works at the site of the installation in Ndubuisi Kanu Park. This is the first time that his work has gone on public display in Nigeria.
The installation of Wind Sculpture VI will work towards establishing a new paradigm for the role of public art in Lagos. The sculpture forms part of a series of important large-scale works that marked a new departure for Shonibare by working in fibre-glass and steel. Using these materials, Shonibare investigates the shifting movement of wind passing through fabric and encapsulates the sheer, three-dimensional volume of wind. The installation of the sculpture will work towards establishing a new paradigm for the role of ‘public’ art in Lagos. With his Wind Sculptures series, the artist has captured a moment in time where wind passes through his signature Dutch wax batik fabrics on a dramatically grand scale. These six metre high sculptures appear to be an ephemeral billowing form but are actually rendered in steel and fibreglass. The organic concaved and convexed shapes formed by nature are mirrored in the patterns which replicate traditional 'African' fabrics. There is a different pattern and palette for each sculpture in the series that are hand painted onto the surface with bright colours. All of the these elements together lend the work a magical and poetic quality that deliberately plays on initial perceptions and frames of reference, a thread running throughout Shonibare’s practice.
The British Council’s UK/NG 2015–2016 season promotes community engagement with arts and culture, boosting awareness around arts and culture in public spaces. Wind SculptureVI will remain in Lagos for three months and over that period the park will be the venue for talks, workshops and other wraparound public activities. The installation has been supported by GT Bank and is a collaboration between Yinka Shonibare MBE(RA), Stephen Friedman Gallery and the British Council.
Yinka Shonibare MBE(RA), said: “It is particularly exciting to be showing my Art in Lagos, Nigeria the country of my childhood. It gives me great pleasure to be launching my first exhibition in Nigeria in the context of a British/Nigerian cultural exchange. The importance of such an exchange can never be underestimated as it forms the basis for our mutual peace and prosperity through Art. Through my Art I am not afraid to explore new ideas and new ways of doing things, I challenge, provoke and entertain in equal measure. I am very much looking forward to my visit to Lagos, Nigeria.
Emma Dexter, Director Visual Arts, British Council, said: “Yinka Shonibare MBE(RA) is one of the UK’s leading artists and his work epitomises the inventiveness and originality characteristic of contemporary British art. I’m delighted that residents and visitors to Lagos will be able to enjoy his Wind Sculpture VI in Ndubuisi Kanu Park, and hope that this venture will herald the beginning of an exciting new chapter for public art in Nigeria.”
Connie Price, Country Director Nigeria, British Council, said: “This sculpture by Yinka Shonibare MBE(RA) is a fitting climax to UK/Nigeria 2015–16. Since September 2015 there have been more than 30 projects and over 340 events in visual arts, fashion, design, theatre, dance, music, literature and film throughout Nigeria and events showcasing Nigerian creativity in the UK. I hope it has bought us closer together, forged new links and that we can build on what we have learnt in the future. Wind Sculpture VI is a wonderful sight and I hope it brightens the day of everyone who passes it.”
Mr Segun Agbaje, Managing Director, GT Bank said: "With its bright colours of traditional African fabrics, Yinka’s wind sculpture VI reflects the creativity of an artist who is incredibly proud of his African heritage. As a proudly African and truly International Bank and an ardent supporter of Art, we are delighted to co-sponsor the exhibition of this magnificent work of Art and we hope it will intrigue and inspire everyone who views it"
Notes to Editor
For more information visit www.britishcouncil.org.ng
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Opening and closing dates of the sculpture in the park
21 November 2016 – 31 January 2017
About UK/Nigeria 2015–16
UK/Nigeria 2015–16 is a major season of arts in Nigeria aimed at building new audiences, creating new collaborations and strengthening relationships between the UK and Nigeria. Programmed in association with a host of partners, it commenced in September 2015 and features more than 30 projects and more than 340 events in visual art, fashion, design, theatre, dance, music, literature and film throughout Nigeria and includes showcases of Nigerian arts and creative industries in the UK.
In the course of the season, we have partnered with over 70 Nigerian and British artists, institutions and organisations to develop skills and capacity across the creative industries. Find out more about our partners. The programme continues to create new connections in arts, education, innovation, trade and investment.
About Yinka Shonibare MBE(RA)
Yinka Shonibare MBE(RA) was born in 1962 in London and moved to Lagos, Nigeria at the age of three. He returned to London to study Fine Art, first at Byam School of Art (now Central Saint Martins College) and then at Goldsmiths College, where he received his MFA. Shonibare’s work explores issues of race and class through the media of painting, sculpture, photography and film. Shonibare questions the meaning of cultural and national definitions. His trademark material is the brightly coloured ‘African’ batik fabric he buys in London. This type of fabric was inspired by Indonesian design, mass-produced by the Dutch and eventually sold to the colonies in West Africa. In the 1960s the material became a new sign of African identity and independence.
Shonibare was a Turner prize nominee in 2004, and was also awarded the decoration of Member of the ‘Most Excellent Order of the British Empire’ or MBE, a title he has added to his professional name. Shonibare was notably commissioned by Okwui Enwezor at Documenta 11, Kassel, in 2002 to create his most recognised work ‘Gallantry and Criminal Conversation’ that launched him on to an international stage. He has exhibited at the Venice Biennale and internationally at leading museums. In September 2008, his major mid-career survey commenced at the MCA Sydney and then toured to the Brooklyn Museum, New York and the Museum of African Art at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC. He was elected as a Royal Academician by the Royal Academy, London in 2013.
Shonibare’s work, ‘Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle’ was the 2010 Fourth Plinth Commission, and was displayed in Trafalgar Square, London, until January 2012. It was the first commission by a black British artist and was part of a national fundraising campaign organized by the Art Fund and the National Maritime Museum, who have now successfully acquired the sculpture for permanent display outside the museum's new entrance in Greenwich Park, London. In 2012, the Royal Opera House, London, commissioned ‘Globe Head Ballerina’ (2012) to be displayed on the exterior of the Royal Opera House, overlooking Russell Street in Covent Garden. The life-sized ballerina encased within a giant ‘snow globe’ spins slowly as if caught mid-dance, the piece appears to encapsulate a moment of performance as if stolen from the stage of the Royal Opera House.
In 2014, Doughty Hanson & Co Real Estate and Terrace Hill, commissioned ‘Wind Sculpture’ and it is installed in Wilcox Place, London. Measuring 6 metres by 3 metres, it explores the notion of harnessing movement through the idea of capturing and freezing a volume of wind in a moment in time. Shonibare’s works are included in prominent collections internationally, including the Tate Collection, London; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D.C; Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; National Gallery of Modern Art in Rome and VandenBroek Foundation, The Netherlands.
About the British Council
The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We create friendly knowledge and understanding between the people of the UK and other countries. Using the UK’s cultural resources we make a positive contribution to the countries we work with – changing lives by creating opportunities, building connections and engendering trust.
We work with over 100 countries across the world in the fields of arts and culture, English language, education and civil society. Each year we reach over 20 million people face-to-face and more than 500 million people online, via broadcasts and publications.
Founded in 1934, we are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter and a UK public body. The majority of our income is raised delivering a range of projects and contracts in English teaching and examinations, education and development contracts and from partnerships with public and private organisations. Eighteen per cent of our funding is received from the UK government.