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12.12.19 - Black History Workshop - National Maritime Museum

What an eye-opening experience we have had today!


We've looked at  various artwork (sculptures, figure heads, busts, portraits, artefacts). 

Firstly, we looked at Eve Shepherd's sculptures (Mermaids, Girl Guides and AFRIL).


Do you remember what AFRIL stands for?

How many symbols did the artist use on these sculptures?

What was the meaning of each of these symbols?

Why were these sculptures different from the rest?


As a result, we were inspired to think about how would we represent ourselves. We thought what objects and markings would be interesting to add to our own bust to show what is important to us. Watch this space for our own bust sketches!


Next, we were asked to look very carefully at the Yinka Shonibare's replica 'Nelson's HMS Ship in a Bottle'. Did you know that this is one of the most photographed artworks in London? We couldn't miss this unique opportunity, so we also took a picture smiley


The work is an incredibly detailed, scaled-down replica of Nelson's flagship HMS Victory, on which the British hero died during the Battle of Trafalgar on 21 October 1805.

It has 80 cannon 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. 

Yinka Shonibare MBE  is one of Britain’s best-known artists. He was born in London and raised in Nigeria before returning to the UK to study fine art. 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. Shonibare is known for his exploration of colonialism and post-colonialism through the media of painting, sculpture, photography, film and performance.

Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle was commissioned by the Greater London Authority for the Fourth Plinth project and was unveiled in Trafalgar Square in May 2010. It now has a permanent home at National Maritime Museum thanks to a fundraising campaign by the Art Fund. You can see it outside the Sammy Ofer Wing for free.


What is the name of Nelson's Ship?

What do you know about the fabric used for the sails?

What is the name of the artist?

Where was the artist born? Where was he raised?

Where was the Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle first unveiled?