Page last updated at 10:44 GMT, Monday, 24 May 2010 11:44 UK

Nelson's ship art unveiled on Trafalgar Square plinth


Ship in a bottle in Trafalgar

Nelson's Ship in a Bottle has been unveiled as the new occupant of the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square.

Yinka Shonibare said his version of HMS Victory with its textile sails with African and batik prints reflects the multicultural and diverse capital.

The scale replica will commemorate the Battle of Trafalgar and 50th anniversary of Nigerian independence, where the artist grew up.

The ship replaces Sir Keith Park's statue and Antony Gormley's artwork.

Gormley's One and Other saw 2,400 members of the public each spend an hour on the plinth.

It's a celebration of Britain's multi-cultural society, which Shonibare attributes in part to Nelson's victory at the Battle of Trafalgar
Will Gompertz, BBC arts editor

The 2.35m high ship inside a specially-made glass bottle, which is a 1:29 scale replica of the original HMS Victory, will be in place for 18 months.

The ship's 37 large sails are made of patterns which are commonly associated with African dress and culture.

The patterns also look back at the path of colonialism as the patterns were inspired by Indonesian batik design, which were mass produced by the Dutch and sold to the colonies in West Africa.

Turner Prize-nominated Shonibare said: "For me its a celebration of London's immense ethnic wealth.

"A ship in a bottle is an object of wonder. How can such towering masts and billowing sails fit inside such a commonplace object?

"With Nelson's Ship in a Bottle I want to take this childhood sense of wonder and amplify it to match the monumental scale of Trafalgar Square."

London Mayor Boris Johnson described it as a "stunning work" while Ekow Eshun, chairman of the Fourth Plinth Commissioning Group, said the creation was "topical and compelling artwork".

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