Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle is a scale replica of HMS Victory, with 37 sails made from African-style cloth.
The first Fourth Plinth commission by a black artist, the ship explores British colonialism and the expansion of the British Empire, which was made possible by Nelson’s victory.
“London is such a diverse community, and art is a fantastic way to engage everyone regardless of race, class or gender,” said Shonibare.
“It is particularly great that this piece is an expression of Nelson’s legacy, a legacy which has contributed to the diversity of this city.”
Grinning, he refused to say how he got the ship into the bottle, leaving the crowd on Trafalgar Square to ponder the possibilities.
Mayor Boris Johnson welcomed the new statue, joking, “What did Nelson have apart from the Nelson touch? He had a lot of bottle, and it has taken someone of Yinka’s imagination to show how much bottle Nelson had.”
Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle is on display in Trafalgar Square for 18 months from today.