Yinka Shonibare, The British Library, 2014 © Yinka Shonibare CBE

Room 12 in Artist and Society

Yinka Shonibare CBE

The British Library

Yinka Shonibare CBE, The British Library  2014

The British Library 2014 is an installation of 6,328 hardback books individually covered in colourful ‘Dutch wax print’ fabric and arranged on rows of shelving. Names are printed in gold leaf on the spines of 2,700 of the books, the majority of which are of first- or second-generation immigrants to Britain, both celebrated and lesser-known, who have made significant contributions to British culture and history. Among names such as Hans Holbein, Zadie Smith, Dame Helen Mirren and Danny Welbeck, the names of those who have opposed immigration also appear, including Nigel Farage and Oswald Mosley. Adjacent to the bookshelves is a study space with tablets, where viewers are able to access the artwork’s website (http://thebritishlibraryinstallation.com), learn more about the people named on the books, and review materials selected by the artist that represent different perspectives on immigration. Visitors are also invited to submit their own stories using the tablets, and a selection of these responses is made available on the website. The books can be installed in purpose-built bookshelves to any configuration, or in existing bookshelves.

© Yinka Shonibare. Co-commissioned by HOUSE 2014 and Brighton Festival. Courtesy the artist and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London.

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The British Library
Yinka Shonibare CBE The British Library 2014

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