An Interview with Lubaina Himid
Lubaina Himid's piece Naming the money won her the Turner Prize in 2017. The work consists of 100 cut out figures that represent the "invisible" Black people in Britain. Each cut out has been given a name and a story, which helps to humanise those that Britian dehumanised for too long. Part of the work is currently on display at Liverpool's Walker art Gallery, where the figures a purposely placed next to certain artworks to create narrative and for the audience to create a relationship between the two. We were lucky to ask Lubaina a few questions about herself and her artwork. Her answers are as followed:
Who is your biggest inspiration for your art form?
My biggest inspiration is probably Betye Saar an African American artist now in her 90s . She confirmed for me that it’s possible to make work that has a political energy a spiritual energy and looks strong and visually powerful.
Is your art form politically, emotionally, spiritually, historically, or socially charged?
My work definitely centres on what it means to belong and tries to fill in the gaps of written and visual history. My concerns have always been around black womens contribution to the cultural and political landscape . The work though it looks simple however is complex in both form and function because it also relates to how the wider political debates impact and have always impacted upon our personal lives.
When did you start becoming engaged with your art practice?
I have always made artwork but became serious about it aged about 15. I made work all the time at home from around then, while being taught at school . I even have A level Art !
What issues do you generally want to combat now, and in the future, regarding the society you are in/others are in around the world?
I am an artist and cannot speak with expertise as a politician or a sociologist but unless all women in every country in the world are experiencing real equality through the law and in the home, in public and in our private worlds, we are not able to live full and complete lives. As far as I can see this state of equality is not present anywhere.
I think that my role as an artist is to paint the future I want to see, to help to give women the courage and the tools to be, through negotiation and exchange, who they want to be. Until Black women are equal no women are equal.
How do you think ethnic minorities within the North West can be supported, recognised, and represented more within the creative communities?
At UCLan we are certainly leading the way in the North west in our support of artists from ethnic minority backgrounds. We House The Making Histories Visible archive and research project. My colleague Christine Eyene is also the director of the Casablanca Biennial. Zoe Whitley curator of Soul of a Nation was one of my PhD students. Artists such as Dr Ingrid Pollard, Helen Cammock ( nominated for the Max Mara Art Prize ) Claudette Johnson Evan Ifekoya and Marlene Smith all visit to make work and develop research here in the ArtLab Contemporary Print Studio alongside the Making Histories Visible archive. We encourage debate , support projects and welcome collaborations with creative women and forward thinking art spaces and museums. The Institute for Black Atlantic Research is also doing good work here at UCLan , around the history and literature of the trade in spaces.
Other NW institutions need to recognise that working with their black creatives should not be a box- ticking and empty short lived gimmick. Relationships take time and care to develop.