Celebrated artist Yinka Shonibare MBE (RA) is creating a new textile project to be exhibited in Hereford: Creatures of the Mappa Mundi has been commissioned by Meadow Arts with Hereford Cathedral
and is being made with the input of diverse groups of people from Herefordshire.
The work is inspired by one of the Cathedrals treasures, the Hereford Mappa Mundi, which is the largest medieval world map to survive to the present day. Drawn in ink on a large hide and then coloured with pigments, the map depicts the world as it was known around the year 1300. It is illustrated with strange people and animals that were inspired by myths or the exaggerated descriptions of travellers, returned from far off lands. Shonibare has reimagined these alien creatures for his new commission, which will feature the vibrant Dutch wax fabrics that have become iconic of his work, A series of textile hangings depicting various creatures and strangers from the map, including satyrs, giants and monocules (one legged humanoid creatures), will be exhibited in the Cathedrals Mappa Mundi & Chained Library from late January to June 2019.
In order to address what Shonibare refers to as, two of the most pressing concerns of our time, environmental protection and immigration, groups of people from Herefordshire have been invited to contribute to the making of the artwork by sewing Shonibares designs into vibrant fabric panels, while taking part in facilitated discussions investigating these themes. Groups from Hereford Courtyards Creative Ageing project; students from Hereford College of Arts; Rose Tinted Rags working with, charity for disabled people, Echo; and Hereford River Carnival will sew some of the works in the series.
Shonibare explains, Creatures of the Mappa Mundi is inspired by the ability of the Mappa to still reflect our contemporary concerns of fear of the stranger, the other, which often leads to xenophobia. The depictions of extinct creatures of legend are a reminder that many more species may yet become extinct if we do not take care of our environment.
Director of Meadow Arts, Anne de Charmant, says, Meadow Arts is thrilled to be working with Yinka Shonibare, whose work is so rightly famous across the world and were delighted that he has responded to our invitation for this new project in Hereford, away from the more usual art scene.
Hereford Cathedral Librarian, Rosemary Firman says, The Hereford Mappa Mundi has been a source of inspiration and wonder for over 700 years. It is always exciting for us to engage with new interpretations of the Map and we feel very privileged to be able to host Shonibares new artwork.
Creatures of the Mappa Mundi will be on display within Hereford Cathedrals Mappa Mundi & Chained Library and normal admission charges apply.