One of the “Little Rich Girls”

An interview with Artinfo UK discusses Yinka Shonibare’s recent commission for the exhibition Aware: Art Fashion Identity at the Royal Academy in London for GSK Contemporary. A third season for the contemporary group featuring 30 works of international artists and designers appropriating the contours of fashion and art.

Yinka Shonibare, one of two artists commissioned to create a new piece for the Royal Academy, designed a sculptural mural of 18 dresses outfitted in Shonibare’s recognizable patterns and styles.  Other artist displaying works Marina Abramović, Andreas Gursky, Claudia Losi, Susie MacMurray, La Maison Martin Margiela, Alexander McQueen, Yoko Ono, Grayson Perry, Dai Rees, Cindy Sherman, Helen Storey, Rosemarie Trockel, Sharif Waked, Gillian Wearing RA, Yohji Yamamoto and Andrea Zittel.

A small snippet of Coline Milliard from ARTINFO UK interviews Yinka Shonibare’s and the back story about “Little Rich Girls”.

CM: Could you tell me about this new commission?

YS: The piece is called “Little Rich Girls.” It’s composed of Victorian dresses, about 15 of them on a wall. The dresses have some sort of corset inside to give them volume and they are suspended from floor to ceiling. They are all made from African textiles, and the piece plays around with the idea of flash and wealth. There’s a paradox: expensive clothing made of cheap material bought in the marketplace. There’s also the intrinsic contradiction of the fabrics’ manufacture. They are not really African, but Indonesian-influenced textiles produced by the Dutch for the African market. I really enjoy this.

CM: It’s not the first time that you’ve worked with period costume. What first attracted you to it?

YM: As you know my background is Nigerian. I’m very interested in the whole colonial issue and the fact that my own identity is based on the British encounter with Nigeria. I’m speaking in English to you now purely for that reason. My work explores the history of colonialism and how that relates to my own hybrid identity.

For the full interview The exhibition is on view through January 30, 2011 at the Royal Academy of Arts 6 Burlington Gardens, London W1S 3ET or visit

Eli Consilvio