Yinka Shonibare's Nelson's Ship in a Bottle on Fourth Plinth, Trafalgar Square

By Rachel Hayward | 09 March 2010
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Showing a black man with dreadlocks and wearing a suit standing next to his ship in a bottle model

Yinka Shonibare and his work, Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle. Photos courtesy James O Jenkins

Discussion idea: Anglo-Nigerian artist and former Turner Prize winner Yinka Shonibare's Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle, a miniature replica of HMS Victory in a bottle, will begin a two year residency on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square on the morning of May 24 2010. Why not use the latest Fourth Plinth work in your Citizenship or History lesson?

Showing a large old fashioned sailing ship in a bottle with batik fabric sails

Nelson's Ship in a Bottle will be the first commission on the Fourth Plinth to reflect specifically on the historical symbolism of Trafalgar Square, which commemorates the Battle of Trafalgar, and will link directly with Nelson's column. It is also the first commission by a black British artist.

The ship's 37 large sails will be made of richly patterned textiles that you usually see on African dress and are symbolic of African identity and independence. The fabrics were inspired by Indonesian batik design, mass produced by the Dutch and sold to the colonies in West Africa.

The work brings together historical and global themes and reflects the legacy of British colonialism and its expansion in trade and Empire, made possible through the freedom of the seas brought about by Nelson's victory at the Battle of Trafalgar.

Find out more in our Culture24 article: Yinka Shonibare's HMS Victory in a Bottle to be installed on Fourth Plinth.

Curriculum links

New primary curriculum: Historical, geographical and social understanding.
This story links to the statement about "Connecting Britain’s past with the present and future" and helping pupils to "make sense of our place in the world as informed citizens" and understand people's interconnectedness.

Secondary curriculum
Including this story in class work ties in with 1.3 Identities and Diversity in the key concepts section of the KS3 Citizenship programme of study, especially in relation to what it means to be a citizen in the UK and regarding the interconnections between the UK and ... and the wider world.

The KS3 History programme of study flags up: exploring way the past has helped shape identities and cultures, British history's links to changes in the world, the history of parallel events, trade, the British Empire and the impact, nature and effects of the slave trade.

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