Yinka Shonibare CBE
We are delighted to share Yinka Shonibare’s new print entitled Mayflower, All Flowers, 2020, which marks the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower ship to America and explores principles of democracy, equality and human rights.
Yinka Shonibare CBE's new print, a complex combination of woodblock and relief printing, depicts the iconic ship, the Mayflower, which transported a group of colonists from Plymouth, England, to the New World in 1620, some of whom were Puritans - religious separatists fleeing persecution in Europe - known today as the Pilgrims. The remaining passengers were merchants, craftsmen, indentured servants and children - the Pilgrims refer to them as “strangers”.
Prior to leaving the ship and establishing Plymouth Colony, the first permanent settlement of Europeans in America, the colonists, both Pilgrims and “strangers” signed the Mayflower Compact. This document established a rudimentary form of democracy with each member contributing to the welfare of the community. The Mayflower Compact was an early attempt at democracy and played a role in shaping the United States of America as we know it today.
The icon of the Mayflower ship is decorated with multicoloured batik fabric sails. The brightly coloured “African” batik fabric was inspired by Indonesian design, mass-produced by the Dutch colonists, and eventually sold to the colonies in West Africa. In the 1960s the material became a new emblem of African identity and independence even though it originated in Indonesia and was made in Europe. Fragments of this brightly coloured wax batik fabric, which has become a recognisable and potent recurring component of Shonibare’s work, have been collaged into areas individually hand-cut from the print. The history of the fabric serves as a potent metaphor for the shifting of both historical and contemporary cultural identities through the ages.
Mayflower, All Flowers seeks to champion and reassert the great American principle and tradition of the right to equality. The words 'All Flowers' in the title of the work have been added to 'Mayflower' to emphasise the necessity for an egalitarian society, encompassing immigration status, race, gender, religion or disability, in today's United States of America.
Cristea Roberts Gallery is the exclusive worldwide representative for Yinka Shonibare CBE's original prints.
Illustrated below are available prints from Shonibare's 2019 portfolio, entitled Unstructured Icons. This group of works, made using the same techniques employed in Mayflower, All Flowers, 2020, highlight the excesses, wealth, and power of the Western world, which were so reliant on colonialism and the slave trade.
About the artist
Yinka Shonibare CBE
Yinka Shonibare CBE was born in 1962 in London and moved to Lagos, Nigeria, at the age of three. He returned to London to study Fine Art first at Byam Shaw School of Art and then at Goldsmiths College where he received his MFA. Shonibare's work explores issues of race and class through the media of painting, sculpture, photography and film. In 2004 he was nominated for the Turner prize, and awarded a MBE. In 2018 he was awarded a CBE.
Photo © Yinka Shonibare Studio; Photographer James Mollison, 2014.