Brighton Festival 2020Public booking opens: Wed 19 Feb, 9am

Yinka Shonibare MBE’s 10,000 book installation ‘The British Library’ extended due to popular demand

Brighton Festival and HOUSE, Brighton’s festival of visual art and domestic space, are delighted to announce that YinkaShonibare MBE’s The British Library - a dramatic sculptural installation which responds to the immigration debate has been extended due to popular demand. The installation, which was co-commissioned by HOUSE and Brighton Festival 2014, will now remain open to the public until Sunday 22 June.

Yinka Shonibare The British Library
Photo: Victor Frankowski

Presented in the former Reference Library in Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, once the stable block for the Royal Pavilion, The British Library is comprised of over 10, 000 books bound in Shonibare's trademark African Dutch wax batik fabric. Printed in gold foil on the spines of 3,500 of the books are the names of notable British cultural figures; either immigrants themselves or descendants from an immigrant family, including examples of those who have actively opposed immigration. The names –including Henry James, T S Eliot, Hans Holbein, Helen Mirren, Tony Blair, Kazuo Ishiguro and Nigel Farage - appear individually on the books, which are arranged on the original wood bookcases of the dramatic Edwardian library - a space used for almost 100 years by writers, historians, academics and local residents.

Yinka Shonibare MBE says, “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. The British Library is inspired by the current debates about immigration and the public response to the new presence of Romanians in Britain. In creating the piece I thought about the space – a Library - and I surrendered to the space and let the space be my muse.”

Yinka Shonibare at Brighton Festival

The British Library was created partly in the artist’s studio and largely in the Library itself with the assistance of over 60 volunteers drawn from the local community.

Yinka Shonibare The British LibraryPhoto: Victor Frankowski