Yinka Shonibare CBE - Tate Modern

I recently visited the permanent displays at the Tate Modern, including the installation by Yinka Shonibare CBE. This work entitled The British Library displays 2,700 books covered in African wax fabric. Each has a name on the spine of a first or second generation immigrant who has contributed to society in some way. This visual impact of this room is stunning. The use of the wax fabric, a signature of Shonibare, is a comment on the intersection of colonialism and cultural identity.

After seeing this installation, I bought a book about wax fabrics which I had known little about. They were developed in the Netherlands in the 19th century following the colonial imports from Dutch controlled Indonesia. When the Dutch started trading in Africa the fabrics became popular and are still produced today, mainly in West and Central African countries.

Want to learn more about contemporary pattern design in the wax print style? Have a look at the Uniwax website which is a company designing and manufacturing these fabrics. The range is quite incredible.

Until next time creative crew,


Yinka Shonibare