Setting sail

Yinka Shonibare's delicately crafted ship in a bottle is on public display in London and is bound to have children and adults fascinated.

Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare MBE has set a double record. He has become the first African artist to display an artwork in any public space in Great Britain and he is credited for building the world’s largest recorded ship in a bottle.

“Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle”, measuring 2.8m x 4.7m is a scale model of Nelson’s HMS Victory. Yinka’s artwork sits on top of the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square in London. Nelson has been spared no details, right from the 31 hand stitched canvas sails to the 80 tiny cannons and miniature lifeboats. The only variation of the original Nelson’s HMS is Shonibare’s use of vibrant African textiles for the sails, instead of plain canvas. He says the use of African textile patterns refers to “the legacy of British colonialism and its expansion in trade and Empire, made possible through the freedom on the seas and new trade routes that Nelson’s victory provided”.

The large Perspex bottle was sealed with red wax on which Shonibare imprinted his initials. “Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle” will be in Trafalgar Square until November 2011.