News: Dancing on the wall

Wednesday 20 June 2012

Globe Head Ballerina, a new artwork by Yinka Shonibare, MBE outside the Royal Opera House. Photo: Sim Canetty-Clarke, courtesy of the Royal Opera House

A life size ballerina in a giant glass bubble now adorns the external wall of the Royal Opera House, overlooking the old Covent Garden market. Globe Head Ballerina is the work of artist Yinka Shonibare and has been commissioned as part of the London 2012 Festival.

Shonibare is probably best known for his Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle installed until recently on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square, but dance has often featured in his work. In 2005 his film Odile and Odette was made in collaboration with ROH2 at the Royal Opera House and featured dancers from The Royal Ballet and Ballet Black.

A photo of Margot Fonteyn was Shonibare’s starting point for this work – and Royal Ballet soloist Melissa Hamilton was his model for the figure which is cast in fibre glass. The Royal Opera House Costume Department have made the ballerina’s tutu, with West African associated fabrics and as in some of his other works, the figures has a replica Victorian world globe as her head – emphasising the international nature of work at the Opera House and ballet as a universal art form.

Shonibare says: “This piece is about bringing the childhood sense of magic and wonder to the façade of the Royal Opera House in a very grown up piece of public sculpture that can be enjoyed by all. It’s like a life size fairytale ballerina jewellery box that will spin”.

The sculpture will be in place for five years – and will spin whenever there is a ballet or opera being performed inside the building.

Yinka Shonibare is curating Deloitte Ignite 2012, the annual open house event at the Royal Opera House from Friday 31 August – Sunday 2 September.

Photos: Sim Canetty-Clarke, courtesy of the Royal Opera House

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