• Search Icon
  • Toggle Menu
  • Close Menu

The Art

Search for information about all the works of art and craft we have donated to museums

Earth (2010)

Yinka Shonibare

mixed media installation

Wolverhampton Art Gallery

Yinka Shonibare MBE. Courtesy of Yinka Shonibare MBE and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London



Sculpture, Installation


Dutch wax cotton


183 x 140 x 165 cm


Purchased with assistance from Art Fund, the Arts Council England/Victoria and Albert Museum Purchase Grant Fund, the Contemporary Art Society and the Friends of Wolverhampton Arts and Heritage, 2018/19

Ownership history:

Purchased from the Stephen Friedmann Gallery, London by the Contemporary Art Society, with the aid the Art Fund, Friends of Wolverhampton Arts and Heritage, City of Wolverhampton Council and the V&A Purchase Grant Fund, 2018; presented to Wolverhampton Art Gallery, 2018


Earth, Man, Colonialism, Globe
Yinka Shonibare’s work deals with themes of race, class and colonialism. His emblematic ‘African’ fabrics have played a continuous role within his practice. As a student Shonibare found them in the market in Brixton, London and discovered later that they are manufactured by the Dutch and British, who were trying to copy Indonesian batik designs. These fabrics were sold to the African market where they were very popular and are therefore associated with African culture, an irony that the artist plays with in his work.

Earth is one of a group of four sculptures commissioned by the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, in 2010. It incorporates many of the elements that characterise the artist’s work: the signature African fabric, the use of the mannequin, irony and playfulness and aspects of the surreal. It was one of the first works which he made incorporating the globe, which he was later to adopt more widely. The figure stands with his legs apart and arms raised, set in an alert and defensive pose. The Victorian costume, with its distinctive chain pattern, references the age of industrial revolution. The work can be interpreted as a metaphor for the impact of industrialisation on the planet. Earth is represented by the symbolic globe and the fiery reds and orange of the fabric conjure up images of a scorched and damaged planet. This is particularly relevant to Wolverhampton and the Black Country, where the English industrial revolution was born.

Yinka Shonibare’s work sits particularly well in Wolverhampton’s collection given the context of the city as the birthplace of the British Black Art Movement of the 1980s, whose members Shonibare was thoroughly influenced by.

All rights reserved. Any further use will need to be cleared with the rights holder. Permission granted to reproduce for personal and educational use only. Commercial copying, hiring, lending is prohibited.

Read our copyright policy for more information.

Artworks by Yinka Shonibare

Browse more relevant artworks.

You Might Also Like

Untitled (1986)

Untitled (1986)

Donated by Eric and Jean Cass through the Contemporary Art Society, 2012