2010. Fourth Plinth, Trafalgar Square.
Now on permanent display at the National Maritime Museum, London
Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle by Yinka Shonibare MBE is a 1:30 replica of Nelson’s flagship, HMS Victory, on which he died during the Battle of Trafalgar on 21 October 1805. 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.