Who is Yinka Shonibare? Here are some fast facts:

  • Born 1962

  • Moved to Lagos, Nigeria at the age of three

  • Graduated from Goldsmiths College in 1989

  • Turner prize nominee in 2004 

  • Awarded the decoration of Member of the “Most Excellent Order of the British Empire”

  • In 2010, 'Nelson's Ship in a Bottle' became his first public art commission on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square

  • In October 2013, he was elected a Royal Academician. 

  • He currently lives and works in the East End of London.


Over the past decade, Shonibare has become well known for his exploration of colonialism and post-colonialism within the contemporary context of globalisation. Shonibare’s work explores these issues, alongside those of race and class, through the media of painting, sculpture, photography and, more recently, film and performance. Using this wide range of media, Shonibare examines in particular the construction of identity and tangled interrelationship between Africa and Europe and their respective economic and political histories.  

Making Eden explores the theme of revolution, drawing a stark contrast between the utopian ideals inherent in anarchic action and the darker realities of its consequences. Particularly pertinent in today’s global climate of social and political disillusionment, Shonibare explores both historical and contemporary cycles of revolution, seeking to demonstrate the destructive patterns of human behaviour that repeat themselves across time.

Making Eden ultimately serves to capture the double-edged, ambiguous nature of revolution, which is reflected by the exhibition’s polarised representations of its effects. For while perpetual cycles of uprising and demise can produce damaging results, they also function as necessary demonstrations of hope, and of the human propensity toward change for the better. Indeed, Shonibare acknowledges how, ‘In the short term, on an individual level, you have to work to get yourself to a better position; even if it’s some kind of utopia, you make an effort, you don’t sit back and allow yourself to be oppressed, you fight. I think that’s important. People have to judge history later on’.

Yinka Shonibare's work is instantly recognisable in his use of the African Wax print to create works that question, interpret, juxtapose.