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Lubaina Himid wins Turner Prize 2017

Lubaina Himid wins the prestigious Turner Prize Award 2017, one of the world’s best-known contemporary art prizes, which exists to “promote public debate around new developments in contemporary British art”.

Professor Lubaina Himid wins prestigious award

Professor Lubaina Himid MBE from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has been crowned the winner of the 2017 Turner Prize.

The contemporary art professor was chosen over Hurvin Anderson, Andrea Buttner and Rosalind Nashashibi for the sought after award, which is considered to be one of the most prestigious international visual arts awards.

Lubaina’s work has been on display at the the Ferens Art Gallery, in Hull, since September as part of the UK City of Culture celebrations and her achievement was announced live on the BBC on Tuesday, 5 December.

The Preston-based artist said: “It’s great to win, especially as so many people in Preston were rooting for me.  It will make a huge difference to my profile and give a platform to the issues I want to champion.”

The award cements an exciting year for Lubaina, who is also a PhD supervisor at UCLan.  In November, she was named Artist of the Year by Apollo Magazine and her two successful solo exhibitions at Modern Art Oxford and Spike Island in Bristol led to her Turner Prize nomination. Known as one of the pioneers of the British black arts movement back in the 1980s, Lubaina has spent her 35-year career shining a light on the trade in enslaved people and the contribution made by the people of the Black Diaspora.

The Head of the School of Art, Design and Fashion Maria Murray congratulated Lubaina.  She said: “We are incredibly proud of Lubaina’s achievement on what is arguably one of the art world’s biggest stages.  Simply being nominated for this globally recognised award is a tremendous feat but to win it is amazing.  Lubaina has worked hard throughout her career to share stories relating to African diaspora and the slave industry that otherwise may never be told.  She is a great inspiration to our students who have followed her Turner Prize journey with excitement and benefit immensely from her creativity and experience.”

UCLan Vice-Chancellor Professor Mike Thomas echoed Maria’s sentiments: “Lubaina has really put the University on the art world map.  We’ve always known that Preston and UCLan has a strong artistic community but this recognition has brought it to a national stage.  It is a magnificent achievement.”

Judges praised Lubaina’s Turner Prize nominated work “for addressing pertinent questions of personal and political identity”.

Lubaina, who was born in Zanzibar and grew up in London, was made an MBE in 2010.  She made the headlines when the Turner Prize shortlist was announced earlier this year because at the age of 62 she is the oldest person ever to be nominated after the award abolished its ban this year on people over 50 being eligible.

One of the best known prizes for the visual arts in the world, the Turner Prize aims to promote public debate around new developments in contemporary British art. Established in 1984, it is awarded to a British artist for an outstanding exhibition or other presentation of their work in the twelve months preceding 24 April 2017.  The prize has previously been won by Damien Hirst, Antony Gormley and Grayson Perry.

About Lubain Himid

Lubaina Himid was born in 1954 in Zanzibar, Tanzania. She studied Theatre Design at Wimbledon College of Art and an M.A in Cultural History at the Royal College of Art. She is Professor of Contemporary Art at the University of Central Lancashire. Recent solo exhibitions include Navigation Charts, Spike Island, Bristol, UK and Invisible Strategies, Modern Art Oxford, Oxford, UK (both 2017). Recent group exhibitions include The Place is Here, Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham, UK (2017); The 1980s Today’s Beginnings?, Van Abbe Museum, Eindhoven, Netherlands (2016); Keywords, Tate Liverpool, UK (2014); and Burning Down the House, Gwangju Biennale, South Korea (2014). From 1986–1990 Himid was director of the Elbow Room and has curated exhibitions including Carte de Visite, Hollybush Gardens, London, UK (2015); The Thin Black Line, ICA, London, UK (1986); and Critical, Donald Rodney, Rochdale Art Gallery, Rochdale, UK (1989).

Himid makes paintings, prints, drawings and installations which celebrate Black creativity and the people of the African diaspora while challenging institutional invisibility. She references the slave industry and its legacies, and addresses the hidden and neglected cultural contribution made by real but forgotten people. In Naming the Money 2014, 100 cut-out life size figures depict Black servants and labourers who Himid individualises, giving each of them a name and story to work against the sense of the powerless mass. She often takes her paintings off the gallery wall so that her images become objects that surround the viewer. Whether working on Guardian newspapers or directly onto porcelain tableware, Himid continually subjects painting to the material of everyday life in order to explore Black identity.

Himid repeatedly questions the historical role of portraiture, as in works such as A Fashionable Marriage 1987, recently exhibited in The Place is Here at Nottingham Contemporary (2017). Inspired by William Hogarth’s Marriage a la Mode 4 (The Countess’s Morning Levee) 1743, this installation features a brightly coloured stage set with a cast of characters taken from Hogarth’s morality tale. Incorporating painting, drawing and collage on cut-outs, the installation relates its historical inspiration to our current climate by including contemporary newspaper headlines and images of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. Himid’s satirical approach takes aim at the politics of the time as well as its legacy today. In works such as these, the artist appropriates and interrogates European painters and combines aspects of her African heritage to question the role of visual power.

Alongside her artistic practice Himid has curated exhibitions to showcase underrepresented Black artists. As an artist, advocate and curator she has facilitated and celebrated the role of Black artists and their contributions to contemporary society.

Lubaina Himid is both the first woman of colour to win and, at 63, the oldest winner in the prize’s 33-year history, after it dropped its upper age limit of 50.

The artist lives and works in Preston.