Yinka Shonibare MBE was born in 1962 in London and moved to Lagos, Nigeria at the age of three. He returned to London to study art first at Central Saint Martins College and then at Goldsmiths, where he received his master’s in fine arts. Shonibare’s work explores issues of race and class through the media of painting, sculpture, photography, and film. Shonibare was a Turner Prize nominee in 2004 and was also awarded the decoration of Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, or MBE.
He was commissioned by Okwui Enwezor at Documenta in 2002 to create Gallantry and Criminal Conversation, the work that launched him on the international stage. His Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle was displayed in London’s Trafalgar Square. It was the first such commission by a black British artist and was part of a national fundraising campaign organized by the Art Fund and the National Maritime Museum; it is now permanently displayed outside the museum’s new entrance in London. In 2012, the Royal Opera House commissioned his Globe Head Ballerina. The life-sized ballerina encased within a giant snow globe spins slowly as if caught mid-dance. Shonibare’s works are also included in prominent museums, including the Tate in London, the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna in Rome, and the VandenBroek Foundation in the Netherlands.