Wolverhampton Art Gallery has opened a new exhibition of work from its contemporary collection - including a new acquisition by renowned British sculptor Yinka Shonibare MBE.

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The piece entitled 'Earth' is part of a series created by the artist in 2010 and is one of a handful of works by the artist in a regional UK collection.

Shonibare is a British-Nigerian artist whose work explores issues of colonialism and identity, combining images and motifs from African and Western European culture and history.

The Contemporary Collection is on display at the Lichfield Street gallery until the autumn.

In 'Earth' the human figure, represented by a mannequin, wears clothes reminiscent of those worn by the British aristocracy, but made from African batik textiles.

The globe that replaces the mannequin's head dates from 1881 and represents the world as it was then, dominated by Europe.

The complex legacies of Imperialism are the subject of other pieces in the show, which also includes work by Gavin Jantjes, Keith Piper and Claudette Johnson. 

The works on display reflect Wolverhampton Art Gallery's long-standing commitment to collecting work that comments on social and political issues both past and present.

All of the works on display feature the figure, used to make a point about the human condition and addressing a range of subjects like the Troubles in Northern Ireland, Black history, and the position on women in society.

'Earth' has been acquired thanks to the generous support of the 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 following an extensive fundraising campaign, lasting many months.

Councillor John Reynolds, City of Wolverhampton Cabinet Member for City Economy, said, 'We are delighted to have acquired this new piece within our collection with the support of our partners and the Friends of Wolverhampton Arts and Heritage.

'We have an extensive contemporary collection that explores a number of topics, whilst showcasing works by talented artists."

Stephen Deuchar, Director of Art Fund, said: "We are proud to support Wolverhampton Art Gallery in the acquisition of Yinka Shonibare's 'Earth'. This powerful work enhances the gallery's collection beautifully and extends its commitment to addressing important political and social issues."

Caroline Douglas, Director of the Contemporary Art Society, said: "We are delighted to have been able to help Wolverhampton Art Gallery acquire this wonderful sculpture by one of our foremost artists, that will help to tell the story of the city's important role in the history of black British art."

The gallery is open Monday to Saturday (10.30am to 4.30pm) and Sunday (11am to 4pm). Admission Free.

  • released: Tuesday 26 June, 2018