Yinka Shonibare MBE

Yinka Shonibare MBE

Wind Sculpture, 2014

'Among Shonibare’s most resolutely abstract pieces so far, the Wind Sculptures proudly announce that his enduring love affair with batik has just taken yet another new turn.'

Coline Milliard, ARTINFO


'Public art? This is the real thing.'



HS Projects, on behalf of clients Doughty Hanson and Terrace Hill, commissioned a striking sculpture by internationally renowned artist Yinka Shonibare, MBE. Wind Sculpture, Shonibare’s first permanent public art commission, takes the form of a colourful ship’s sail, measuring 6.1 metres by 3.4 metres.  It explores the notion of harnessing movement, through the idea of capturing and freezing a volume of wind in a moment in time. The work echoes the themes of his Fourth Plinth commission, ‘Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle’, in Trafalgar Square. 


The idea for Wind Sculpture was conceived after producing a series of works related to historical ships, in particular his recent Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square commission, ‘Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle’.


When developing those pieces, Shonibare had to focus on how to form the sails so that they appeared to be caught mid voyage, and in doing so the sails began to describe the very conditions of that voyage itself.  The sails came to represent the movement and passion within the piece, the emotions the artist wanted to translate to the viewer.


Moving away from the form of a ship itself, Wind Sculpture formally explores the notion of harnessing movement through the idea of capturing the volume of wind, and freezing it in a moment of time.  Using a series of materials normally applied to large structures that exude a sense of solidity and permanence, the tension of this abstract work is heightened by the contrast between the media used, and the movement recreated through the delicate realisation of the work.  Returning to Shonibare’s use of Dutch wax fabrics, the work manifests as giant three-dimensional blown up pieces of fabric that appear to be caught blowing in the wind.  The work measures 6.1 metres in height and 3.4 meters in width and is rendered in full colour, exactly duplicating a piece of the African fabric synonymous with his work, only in giant form.


Wind Sculpture is a site specific response to Howick Place, probably named after Viscount Howick, later 2nd Earl Grey, one of the main architects of the Reform Act 1832, Catholic Emancipation and the abolition of slavery in the British Empire.  Wind Sculpture focuses on themes of colonialism, trade, and race and employs the artist’s signature use of batik Dutch wax fabric designs.  The use of batik Dutch wax fabrics is an important element within Shonibare’s overall body of work, and has continued in his practice as a kind of visual language through which he translates his ideas. Commonly referred to as “African” fabrics, these textiles have a somewhat hybrid history that defies such defined cultural categorisation, one which is often hidden and which refuses stereotypes - a concept he explores in his practice.


Using metal armatures and pigmentation techniques, Wind Sculpture is highly durable resisting disintegration from inclimate weather and outdoor conditions. The work was realised using moulds sculpted to perfectly capture the sense of movement in the fabrics, and the surface was treated and pigmented to perfectly represent the batik patterns of traditional and beautifully colourful Dutch wax fabrics.