Nelson's Ship in a Bottle

Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle by Yinka Shonibare CBE is a 1:30 replica of Nelson’s flagship, HMS 'Victory', on which he died during the Battle of Trafalgar on 21 October 1805. It has 80 guns and 37 sails set as on the day of battle.

The richly patterned sails 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. The characteristic bright colours and abstract symmetries of Dutch Wax fabric have accrued many complex, often ambivalent associations – with colonialism, industrialisation, emigration, cultural appropriation, and the invention (and reinvention) of tradition – all of which are foregrounded in Shonibare’s work. Used for the rigging of Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle, the legacy of Dutch Wax assumes a further, distinctly maritime significance.

Shonibare is one of Britain’s best-known artists. He was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2004, the same year in which he was awarded an MBE (an appellation that he uses when exhibiting and signing works). He has exhibited at the Venice Biennial and internationally at leading museums. In autumn 2008, a major retrospective of the artist’s career to date opened at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, touring to Brooklyn Museum, New York and the Smithsonian Institution, Washington.

Object Details

ID: ZBA9268
Collection: Ship models; Fine art Sculpture
Type: Nelson's Ship in a Bottle
Display location: Display - Main Museum Grounds
Creator: Shonibare, Yinka
Date made: 2010
Credit: Commissioned for the Mayor of London’s Fourth Plinth Programme. Acquired with the support of Art Fund; Greater London Authority; Yinka Shonibare CBE; Stephen Friedman Gallery, London; James Cohan Gallery, New York; and contributions from individuals, trusts and foundations following a public appeal with Art Fund. National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London.
Measurements: 2800 mm x 2500 mm x 5000 mm

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