Yinka Shonibare CBE (RA)
Creatures of the Mappa Mundi, Mandragora 2018
Creatures of the Mappa Mundi, Mandragora 2018

Yinka Shonibare at Hereford Cathedral: Creatures of the Mappa Mundi

Thursday 24 January – Saturday 1 June 2019

Yinka Shonibare: Creatures of the Mappa Mundi at Hereford Cathedral

Displayed next to the Cathedral’s Chained Library, the Hereford Mappa Mundi is the largest medieval world map to survive. One of its most remarkable features is that it is illustrated with strange people and animals, drawn by artists from the exaggerated descriptions of travellers to far off lands. Shonibare has been inspired by the map and its alien creatures to create a new work for Herefordshire, which will be on show from late January to June 2019.

Illustrated on the map are various creatures, natural and supernatural, including camels, elephants and unicorns. The more human-like creatures are sometimes outrageous in form, for example the Blemmye; a warrior race of people with no heads and facial features in their chests, or the Sciapods, a race with one giant leg and foot each.

Creatures of the Mappa Mundi explores what Shonibare refers to as, “Two of the most pressing concerns of our time, environmental protection and immigration. Inspired by the ability of the Mappa Mundi to still be reflecting our contemporary concerns of fear of the stranger or “other” which often leads to xenophobia. The depictions of extinct creatures of legend are a reminder that we may yet become extinct if we do not take care of our environment.”

The exhibition contains a series of textile works, depicting various creatures and strangers from the map. These new works will feature the vibrant Dutch-wax fabrics that have become iconic of Shonibare’s work. Each piece has been made with the help of different groups of people across the county of Herefordshire, including those linked to disabled people, the homeless and refugees. 

Creatures of the Mappa Mundi will be on display in the Mappa Mundi & Chained Library Exhibition from Thursday 24 January – Saturday 1 June, normal admission charges apply.


©2020. All images are property of Yinka Shonibare CBE (RA).