Turner Prize winner and cultural activist Lubaina Himid recently debuted her exhibition at the Tate Modern Museum.
She took inspiration mostly from her interest in theatre. Her exhibition unfolds in a series of scenes that take visitors centre-stage and even back stage.
Himid has her art roots in theatre design, providing a breath of fresh air to painting and social engagement. Her stories describe friendships and sorority among Black women.
She had trained in theatre design at the Wimbledon Art School but found out that she wasn’t a theatre person early on in her career, as she found it unpleasant to work with a large team.
There was also a gap between what theatre in Britain was at the time, and what she wanted it to do. That doesn’t mean that her art, as seen in her Tate Modern exhibition, can’t trace inspiration from her roots.
She’s a major contributor to the Black British arts movement from the 1980s and creates activist art presented in British galleries.
Her art has also been exhibited in major international galleries, such as the Berlin Biennale, the Istanbul Biennial, Gwangju Biennale, Sharjah Biennial, Folkestone Triennial, Glasgow International.
Lubaina Himid was appointed MBE in June 2010 for services to Black Women’s Art, and promoted to CBE in the 2018 Queen’s Birthday Honours “for services to Art.”
Himid also made history in 2017 for becoming the first Black woman and oldest artist yet to win the Turner Prize.
On top of that, she was also the oldest person to be nominated for the prize as rules changed to include nominations of artists over the age of 50.
Apollo magazine also named her as Artist of the Year in 2017, and she was elected as Royal Academician in 2018.
Himid was born in Zanzibar Sultanate, which was then a British protectorate and now part of Tanzania in 1954. She would then move to Britain with her mother, who worked as a textile designer, after her father passed away at just four months old.
Himid has made it her mission to tell the neglected histories of Black people through installations, prints, drawings and paintings. One of her most memorable works is the immersive and monumental installation Naming the Money (2004).
It features 100 life-size cut-out figures that represent slaves and servants, each with thoughtful backstories read out on a looping soundtrack.
Himid has aliso organized exhibitions of work by Black female artists, such as Black Woman Time now (1983) and Five Black Women, (1983) both in London.