Not long ago, I posted a story about British -Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare’s book art project at the Cleveland Library called The American Library Project. Now his companion project called The British Library has found its way into Tate Modern’s permanent collection.
Composed of thousands of books bound in Dutch wax print, the installation is supported by a digital platform which allows readers to submit their own stories of the impact that migration has had on British culture, society, and history.
2,700 of the books have had their spines transformed, with the names of notable first and second generation immigrants to the UK printed in gold leaf, creating an onomastic overview of British history which takes in everyone from Kazuo Ishiguro to Dame Helen Mirren.
A statement on the installation’s website notes: “Whilst the project is a celebration of the ongoing contributions made to British society by people who have arrived here from other parts of the world or whose ancestors came to Britain as immigrants, it does not exclude the points of view of those who object to it.”