Art Fund launches appeal to buy the fourth Plinth's 'Ship in a Bottle' for the National Maritime Museum

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Art Fund launches appeal to buy the fourth Plinth's 'Ship in a Bottle' for the National Maritime Museum
Yinka Shonibare, MBE, ‘Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle’ 2010. Fibreglass, steel, brass, resin, UV ink on printed cotton textile, linen rigging, acrylic and wood, 290 x 525 x 235cm (114 1/8 x 206 3/4 x 92 1/2in). Images © the artist and courtesy of the artist, Stephen Friedman Gallery (London) and James Cohan Gallery (New York). Photo: Courtesy of Stephen White.

LONDON.- The Art Fund and the National Maritime Museum launched a public appeal to give Yinka Shonibare, MBE’s critically‐acclaimed and much‐loved commission for the Fourth Plinth Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle a permanent home at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. The work was commissioned by the Mayor of London for the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square where it has been on temporary display since May 2010 and is due to come down from view in January next year. In its new home at the National Maritime Museum Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle will not only be a prominent public feature, freely accessible to all, outside the new Sammy Ofer Wing entrance but will complement the museum’s collection, which includes important paintings and artefacts relating to Nelson and Britain’s maritime history.

The Art Fund has contributed a £50,000 grant to the campaign. The Art Fund and the National Maritime Museum are asking the public to help them raise a further £362,500, so that the work may become part of the Museum’s collection, and remain on public view. The public can text SHIP to 70555 to donate £5 to the campaign, call 0844 415 4100 or go online at and watch a virtual Ship in a Bottle move from Trafalgar Square to its new destination in Greenwich as the campaign progresses. The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson said:

'I am thrilled that the National Maritime Museum has nailed its colours to the mast by offering to host Nelson's Ship in a Bottle. Since being moored in Trafalgar Square the public response to Yinka Shonibare, MBE's splendid work of art has been fantastic and I would be thrilled to see it anchored permanently in Greenwich, at the epicentre of our great seafaring history. I encourage everyone to contribute what they can so that many more people can see it for years to come.'

Stephen Deuchar, Director of the Art Fund, commented: ‘The Art Fund helps UK museums and galleries to acquire and display great works of art. This exceptional work by Yinka Shonibare, MBE has intrigued and delighted millions of people in the last year and a half and in a new permanent site outside the National Maritime Museum will continue to do so for many years to come.’

Kevin Fewster, Director of the National Maritime Museum, said: ’Nelson's Ship in a Bottle’ by Yinka Shonibare, MBE is a superb artwork which has delighted Londoners and international visitors alike from the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square. We feel that Greenwich would be the perfect home for this outstanding piece of work, which chimes so brilliantly with the stories we tell through our museum's unique collections.’

Yinka Shonibare, MBE said: 'I would very much like to see the work have a permanent home at the National Maritime Museum. I worked closely with the NMM earlier this year on a series of events and for me the location and the collection are the perfect future home for this work.'

The work is a scaled down direct replica of HMS Victory, the ship captained by Nelson. The work measures 4.7 metres in length and 2.8 metres in diameter. The ships 37 large sails are made of richly patterned textiles commonly associated with African dress and symbolic of African identity and independence. Tying together historical and global threads, the work considers the legacy of British colonialism and its expansion in trade and Empire, made possible through the freedom of the seas and new trade routes that Nelson’s victory provided.

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