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A sneak peek at RAMM's new exhibition 'Criminal Ornamentation: Yinka Shonibare MBE curates the Arts Council Collection'

A sneak peek at RAMM's new exhibition 'Criminal Ornamentation: Yinka Shonibare MBE curates the Arts Council Collection'

Criminal Ornamentation

19 January to 17 March 2019

Blow away the winter blues with a riot of colour and pattern. This intriguing exhibition includes eye-popping art ranging from film to fashion and ceramics to sculpture.

‘It is the celebration of the impolite, unapologetic display of pattern, repetition and colour.’ Yinka Shonibare MBE

Celebrated British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare MBE has chosen works that surprise and dazzle. From a sequined dress by Alexander McQueen to nineteenth-century wallpaper by William Morris, his selection tells a story of objects that refuse to be confined.

Showing nearly 100 works by more than 50 artists including Andy Goldsworthy, Sarah Lucas, Sonia Boyce, Susan Derges, Mona Hatoum, David Nash, Bridget Riley and Yinka Shonibare MBE.

Reflective of Yinka’s own practice, this exhibition explores the cultural and social dimensions of the use of pattern in modern and contemporary art. Provocatively referring to early twentieth-century architect Adolf Loos’ influential and anti-decoration essay ‘Ornament and Crime’, Shonibare has chosen a vast range of work from the Arts Council Collection that revels in the use of pattern and ornament. In his essay, Loos examines notions of good and bad taste, condemning the use of decoration and craft as an indication of the lowest level of cultural development, stating ‘the modern man who tattoos himself is a criminal.’

This exhibition challenges the idea that ornamentation is a crime and instead embraces colour, ornament and pattern as means of social and political expression. Yinka Shonibare MBE has selected a wide range of works unified by pattern. Taking the Arts Council Collection’s rich and varied holdings as his starting point, he has supplemented his selection with key loans from the V&A, Crafts Council, William Morris Society and from individual artists based across the UK.

Other artists featured in the show include: Timorous Beasties, Boyle Family, Philip Elgin, Cathy De Monchaux, Lisa Milroy, Caragh Thuring, and Bedwyr Williams.

Throughout this unique exhibition, Yinka Shonibare MBE breaks down the boundaries of gender association through the use of pattern and fabric. An embroidered evening dress and a metallic clutch bag by fashion designer Alexander McQueen are placed in Criminal Ornamentation alongside other works, blurring the boundaries between high and low art, cheap and luxurious, craft and art.

IMAGE: Yinka Shonibare MBE, Food Faerie, 2011
© Yinka Shonibare MBE. Courtesy the artist and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London

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