New Touring Exhibition curated by Yinka Shonibare MBE: Criminal Ornamentation

27 July 2018

The Arts Council Collection’s new national touring exhibition, Criminal Ornamentation: Yinka Shonibare MBE curates the Arts Council Collection, opens at Attenborough Arts Centre, Leicester on 21 September, before touring to venues in Exeter, Wakefield and Southampton. 

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 MBE 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 MBE 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 DergesJoe Fletcher OrrLaura FordEdward Lipski, Alexander McQueen, Milena DragicevicLis RhodesBridget RileyYinka ShonibareCaragh Thuring and Bedwyr Williams.

Click here for more information and full list of tour dates and venues. 



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

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