Criminal Ornamentation: Yinka Shonibare MBE curates the Arts Council Collection

21 September 2018 - 28 September 2019

Yinka Shonibare (now CBE) curates the Arts Council Collection in a new touring exhibition that opens at Attenborough Arts Centre, Leicester, 21 September-16 December 2018, then tours throughout the UK.

Criminal Ornamentation explores the cultural and social dimensions of the use of pattern in art. The exhibition title refers to Adolf Loos' 'Ornament and Crime' (1908) a strongly worded essay in which Loos ridiculed the use of ornament as an indication of poor taste and the lowest level of cultural development. As a counterblast to Loos’ bombastic text, Yinka Shonibare CBE presents an explosion of pattern and colour bringing together works from across the visual arts including an acidic wallpaper by Glasgow-based designers, Timorous Beasties, the sculptural torso of Tattoo, a subversive work by Edward Lipski and the flowing vegetation of Honeysuckle, a design by May Morris.

Unified by pattern, the exhibition is a personal selection by Yinka Shonibare CBE from the Arts Council Collection’s rich and varied holdings supplemented by key loans from the V&A, Crafts Council, William Morris Society and individual artists based across the UK.  Threading through the patterned surfaces are many challenging themes - from politics and colonialism to gender stereotypes and inequality. Criminal Ornamentation is an exploration of pattern as a genuine expression that breaks away from traditional conceptions of art and seeks to celebrate the radical deviancy of pattern.

Artists featured in the show include Timorous Beasties, Boyle Family, Susan Derges, Joe Fletcher Orr, Laura Ford, Edward Lipski, Alexander McQueen, Milena Dragicevic, Lis Rhodes, Bridget Riley, Yinka Shonibare CBE, Caragh Thuring and Bedwyr Williams.



Please note: not all works will be shown at all venues.

Attenborough Arts Centre, Leicester - 21 September-16 December 2018

Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter - 19 January-17 March 2019

Longside Gallery, Arts Council Collection, Wakefield - 5 April-16 June 2019

Southampton Art Gallery - 28 June-28 September 2019


Related Events

The Untold Story of Tattooing

This engaging evening will feature an introduction to the history of tattooing by Dr Matt Lodder, University of Essex, with close reference to the Criminal Ornamentation: Yinka Shonibare CBE curates the Arts Council Collection exhibition.
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Explore the creative potential of pattern in these fun and playful drop-in workshops. Artists will offer a range of activities for you to try with your friends and family, including pattern printmaking, thread drawing and playful activities in the gallery
Criminal Ornamentation: Study Day for Teachers

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Yinka Shonibare CBE: In Conversation

Curated by the Nigerian-British artist, Yinka Shonibare CBE, Criminal Ornamentation explores the cultural and social implications of pattern in art.

Featured Works

Quick Slow (2010)

Claire Barclay
Line Painting (2003)

Yinka Shonibare
Tattoo (1998)

Edward Lipski

Explore this Exhibition

Artist Interview: Yinka Shonibare

Artist Yinka Shonibare, discusses the impact of Arts Council Collection acquisition at an early stage in his career and the relevance of 'The Crowning' to contemporary politics.
Criminal Ornamentation Education Pack

A specially devised resource for teachers to use in the gallery or classroom, aimed at stimulating discussion around key themes of the exhibition and the works on display.
Artist Profile: Lis Rhodes

Beth Hughes, Curator, Arts Council Collection explores the work of Lis Rhodes, who features in the exhibition.

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On Paper

Rather than the often overlooked support for drawings, paper is the subject at the heart of this new Arts Council Collection Touring Exhibition, which features work by James Richards, Prunella Clough and John Stezaker.
Kaleidoscope: Colour and Sequence in 1960s British Art

Kaleidoscope examines 1960s visual art through a fresh and surprising lens, bringing into view the relationship between colour and form, rationality and irrationality, order and waywardness.

The Arts Council Collection is the UK's most widely seen collection of modern and contemporary art.

With nearly 8,000 works by over 2,000 artists, it can be seen in exhibitions and public displays across the country and beyondThis website offers unprecedented access to the Collection, and information about each work can be found on this site.