Yinka Shonibare in Conversation, 04 December 2013
Some of the Youth Advisors were invited to see Yinka Shonibare in Conversation at National Maritime Museum. Art curator, Melanie Vandenbrouck chatted with Yinka, learning about his work and practice. She asked about the significance of his work coming to Greenwich, and Yinka talked about how we are a mixed population due to Britain’s maritime power. He wants to link between personal identities and history and how our personal destinies have been shaped by what other people did in the past.
Yinka talked about his commission for Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth, Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle, and how he felt it was obvious to relate the artwork to the setting, yet no other artists had done this. He enjoys the artwork being completed and left to people to add their own ideas of the meaning. He talked about artists not merely reporting, but playing with ideas and thinking.
It was interesting that Yinka talked about artwork being a work of fiction and history is the same, we can only present our subjective point of view.
My art is my elsewhere. Here now is quite mundane. I’m always searching for that elsewhere and hope I’m giving that to the audience, Yinka Shonibare.
Yinka talked about his studio and how he works, with 3 full time staff supporting (a production manager, a studio manager and a personal assistant), 2 part time painters, 7 sculptors, 2 costumiers and 1 photographer. Other artists will come in depending on the work and this will be decided at design meetings at the studio.
Youth Advisor, Matthew Jordan, had the chance to ask Yinka some questions about the ideas process. He asked how Yinka knows if it is a good idea. Yinka said your instincts will tell you as well as experience of what is practical and can work. Matthew Jordan also asked if ideas get lost in translation and if he’s ever had any ideas too impossible to realise. Yinka said this is often due to logistical or financial constraints. When he first had the idea for Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle he was told it couldn’t be done. Having a tight brief and a director to be the project captain helps make things happen.
Yinka’s final thoughts were on information, and how all forms of culture are appropriation. The future is not just gaining information, but knowing what to do with it. Creativity is the editing process.
The Youth Advisors were most surprised that he was happy to put artwork out to the public with little concern about how it would be interpreted.