Yinka Shonibare is a male artist born in United Kingdom, currently working in United Kingdom.

Yinka Shonibare was born in London to Nigerian parents. At the age of three they moved to Lagos, the most populous city in Nigeria, where he grew up. He spoke Yoruba at home, but only English at his exclusive private school. His father was a successful lawyer, and summers were spent at their Battersea home in London. When Shonibare was 16, he was sent to board in England for his final two years of school education.

Shonibare has called himself “truly bicultural”.1

At the age of 19 he decided to become an artist, against the wishes of his father. A month into his arts course he became seriously ill with a rare viral infection which attacked his spine and left him temporarily paralysed. He spent much of the next three years in physiotherapy. He is now paralyzed down one side and walks with difficulty using a stick. On his CV he identifies himself as ‘physically disabled’. For some years in the early 90s, he worked for Shape arts, a leading disability arts organisation.

He uses his physical limitations creatively – for example he works on many small scale pieces when making a larger scale artwork (see Maxa). “It’s certainly affected my method,” he comments. “I’ve become very good at delegating and have a number of people who facilitate my priorities.”2 He involves a professional theatre costumer to make up his dresses and professional photographers when necessary, arranging himself in poses which hide any stiffness of posture. He is the father of Kayode Shonibare-Lewis who hopes to become a computer games artist, keeping art in the family. Kayode is known as K.

Further art education:

  • 1984-1989 London’s Byam Shaw School of Art, London (now part of Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design)
  • MA in Fine Art -1991 Goldsmiths College, London

Goldsmith’s college in the 1990s was famed for being the cradle of the Young British Artists with whom Shonibare had some group exhibitions.
Shonibare was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 2004 for his Double Dutch exhibition at the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam and for his solo show at the Stephen Friedman Gallery, London. In 2009

Of the four nominees, he seemed to be the most popular with the general public that year. Out of visitors voting on a BBC website poll, 64% said that his work was their favourite.