Glass bottle containing scale model of the ship will sit on Fourth Plinth for 18 months

A giant glass bottle containing a scale model of Nelson’s flagship, HMS Victory, today became the latest artwork to sit atop the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square.

The model, by artist Yinka Shonibare, was made to commemorate the Battle of Trafalgar and the 50th anniversary of Nigerian independence.

The model is 2.35 metres high – 1:29 the scale of the original Victory – and will remain on the plinth for 18 months.

The ship’s 37 sails are patterned with African-inspired shapes and colours.

Turner-prize winning Shonibare told the BBC: “For me it’s a celebration of London’s immense ethnic wealth.

“A ship in a bottle is an object of wonder. How can such towering masts and billowing sails fit inside such a commonplace object?

“With Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle I want to take this childhood sense of wonder and amplify it to match the monumental scale of Trafalgar Square.”