Yinka Shonibare’s 10,000 batik-covered books

A new installation on the theme of immigration by Yinka Shonibare features 10,000 books, each bound in wax batik fabric. Called The British Library, it has just opened as part of the Brighton Festival and HOUSE 2014

Yinka Shonibare MBE, The British Library. A co-commission by HOUSE 2014 and Brighton Festival. Photography: Jonathan Bassett

A new installation on the theme of immigration by Yinka Shonibare features 10,000 books, each bound in wax batik fabric. Called The British Library, it has just opened as part of the Brighton Festival and HOUSE 2014…

The artist’s latest sculptural work explores the contributions made to British culture and society by people who have come to the country from other parts of the world, or whose ancestors arrived here as immigrants.

Some 10,000 volumes make up The British Library, all of which are covered in Shonibare’s trademark African Dutch batik fabric. Rendered in gold foil on the spines of each book is the name of a famous British cultural figure; either an immigrant themselves or someone descended from an immigrant family.

Housed in the Old Reference Library in Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, the work is installed on the library’s original bookcases.

“Whilst the installation is a celebration of the ongoing contributions made to British society by people who have arrived here from other parts of the world or whose ancestors came to Britain as immigrants, it does not exclude the points of view of those who object to it,” says Shonibare. “The British Library is inspired by the current debates about immigration and the public response to the new presence of Romanians in Britain”.

The British Library will be on show at the Old Reference Library in Brighton Museum and Art Gallery until May 25. See housefestival.org and brightonfestival.org for further details. Guest Curator for HOUSE 2014 is Celia Davies, director, Photoworks. HOUSE 2014 is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

All images: Yinka Shonibare MBE, The British Library. A co-commission by HOUSE 2014 and Brighton Festival, 2014. Photography: Jonathan Bassett

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