Celebrating Contemporary: Yinka Shonibare MBE's Wanderer

  • 14 September 2011

The post-colonial art of Yinka Shonibare MBE is the focus of today's Celebrating Contemporary feature...

Yinka Shonibare MBE, Wanderer, 2007 © Yinka Shonibare, MBE

Yinka Shonibare MBE, Wanderer, 2007

A model ship by post-colonial artist Yinka Shonibare MBE is the focus of today's Celebrating Contemporary feature...

The work

The Wanderer was the last slave ship to bring slaves from Africa to the United State of America, despite the outlawing of importation many years earlier. Shonibare's model of the ship is subversively altered, its plain sails replaced with 'African' batik fabric.

The sail designs on Wanderer are scattered with slippers of various sizes, perhaps recalling the brutal separation of families who had been enslaved. Shinibare created the model in response to the Bicentenary of the Parliamentary Abolition of the Slave Trade in 2007.

The artist

Yinka Shonibare is a British-Nigerian contemporary artist who was nominated for the 2004 Turner Prize. His art explores the construction of identity, particularly national identities – like Wanderer, much of his work blurs the boundaries between accepted notions of Western and 'African' art.

In 2004 Shonibare was made a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE). He was commissioned to create a work for the fourth plinth on Trafalgar Square, and his Nelson's Ship in a Bottle was unveiled in 2010. 

Did you know?

While Shonibare didn't win the Turner Prize in 2004, his work was overwhelmingly the most popular with the public – in a BBC pole asking which of the four nominees' work people preferred, 64% chose Shonibare's.

VOTE for Wanderer by Yinka Shonibare MBE