Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Interview: Curator Sarah Coulson on Yinka Shonibare

Black-winged fairies, fox-headed highwaymen sporting hand-guns and Blackberry phones, and cute aliens in colourful flying machines are among some of the weird and wonderful exhibits currently on show at Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

They are not sculptures in the traditional sense as Nigerian-born British artist Yinka Shonibare works with materials ranging from brightly coloured fabrics to taxidermied fox heads.

The Turner Prize nominee’s work explores the themes of conflict, empire and identity through using African fabrics in unlikely places, from space suits to 19th Century naval uniforms.

Fabric-ation brings together some of Yinka’s most well known works from the past decade, with the addition of new works commissioned especially for the exhibition.

Sarah Coulson, deputy curator at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, said: “Yinka hasn’t had a UK exhibition anything like this size, which has brought together work from such a wide period of time. It’s an opportunity for people to see how his work has developed.”

Yinka Shonibare, Revolution Kid Fox Boy (2012) (courtesy of the artist)

Yinka, who was awarded an MBE in 2004, questions the snobbishness that can surround art and the prejudices we hold about different types of art. This is why he uses fabrics and colours in his sculptures. Sarah added, “Fabric is traditionally thought of as craft, which is often seen as something separate to sculpture. Yinka deliberately uses fabric to question ‘what is sculpture?’ and why we have these ideas of high art and low art.

“Yinka says that what he wants to do is create things that are beautiful, that people can engage with on many different levels. So you can come and just enjoy the amazing colours, patterns and textures, and the sheer joyousness of the objects that he makes. So you can come and enjoy these objects for what they are.”

The exhibition isn’t just aimed at the art lover, and would be perfect for families or those who are unsure where to start with contemporary art. As well as the black-winged fairies there are richly coloured Victorian costumes, space ships, and two musketeers shooting at each other through a wall of eggs.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park website.
Yinka Shonibare's website.
Yinka's Wiki.
Guardian review.

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