OVER 400 people gathered at Hereford Cathedral for the launch of Yinka Shonibare’s new work Creatures of the Mappa Mundi.
The artist came to Hereford to open the exhibition, meet the project’s participants and to introduce the new works, exclusively interviewed by broadcaster and writer Francine Stock during a public talk in the Cathedral’s nave.
Creatures of the Mappa Mundi is inspired by one of the Cathedral’s treasures, the Mappa Mundi (the largest medieval map of the world to survive to the present day). The Mappa Mundi’s depictions of strange creatures and people from across the known world of the medieval period was the starting point for the creation of a series of colourful quilt artworks that are on show in Hereford until June 1 2019.
Figures from the ancient map are represented in exuberantly designed compositions, rendered in Shonibare’s trademark ‘Dutch Wax’ fabrics; these are shown in the Mappa Mundi & Chained Library Exhibition, along with a film about the making process.
Shonibare and Meadow Arts invited diverse groups of Herefordshire people to contribute directly to the project by making some of the final artworks. The intention was that coming together for sewing sessions would enable group members to engage in discussions with one another and the artist, who joined the conversation by video link. Directly inspired by contemporary readings of the Mappa Mundi, the topics discussed included the environment and immigration.
The stitchers, including Hereford College of Arts Young Enterprise students, disabled people from charity Echo working with Rose Tinted Rags and The Courtyard’s Creative Ageing group, worked on the project in the winter of 2018.
The sessions were led by Meadow Arts’ Creative practitioner Jill Impney and by the artist’s studio. On the launch day, the final framed works were revealed and the groups had a special preview with the artist, when they had the chance to ask him questions over tea and cake.
“When you put something in a frame, it immediately becomes more than it used to be and I think that seeing it and realising that other people will see it and think of it as art makes it a thing of pride. I feel proud that it’s up there,” said one of the students from Hereford College of Arts.
Creatures of the Mappa Mundi is on display in the Mappa Mundi & Chained Library Exhibition until Saturday 1 June 2019, normal admission charges apply.