Photographer's Note

Yinka Shonibare's sculpture Nelson's Ship in a Bottle.

Nelson's Ship in a Bottle has been unveiled at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich following the success of the fundraising campaign.

• There's all the technical detail about the protective coatings applied to the sails to prevent the sun from fading them and the many tiny fans that are built into the object to keep the temperature within a 10-degree range and stop the build-up of condensation.

• Of course, there's the "making-of" story: how the perspex bottle was made in Italy, then craned into a London studio for the insertion of the scale replica of Nelson's HMS Victory. Once that process had been undertaken - in secret - Shonibare's team clambered into the bottle to add the finishing touches, which you can see in this excellent photo gallery at the Guardian.

• There is the fact that Shonibare is the first black artist to be commissioned to make a work for the fourth plinth and the whole meaning of the piece as outlined by the artist. It's a celebration of Britain's multi-cultural society, which Shonibare attributes in part to Nelson's victory at the Battle of Trafalgar: the seas were freed for the British to build their Empire; subsequently, individuals and families from countries within that Empire arrived in Britain.

• Let's not forget the material used for the sails. These are not the bright white sheets of Nelson's original; they're made of a richly patterned fabric more commonly associated with African dress, a regular motif in Shonibare's work. But the fabric isn't from Africa; it's from Brixton market. The reason it is associated with African dress is not indigenous craftsmanship but the mass production of the material by the Dutch, who sold it to their West African colonies. The design, in fact, is not even African: it's based on Indonesian batik.

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Additional Photos by Danos kounenis (danos) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 13190 W: 298 N: 26309] (105576)
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