Turner Prize win was "bittersweet" for Preston's Lubaina Himid

Turner Prize winner Lubaina Himid from Preston was told that ‘black people don’t make art‘ when she started hosting exhibitions in the 80s.

By Megan Titley
Wednesday, 5th June 2019, 9:11 am
Updated Wednesday, 5th June 2019, 10:11 am
Winner of Turner Prize 2017 Lubaina Himid with one of her works of art titled A Fashionable Marriage, 1986. Danny Lawson/PA Wire
Winner of Turner Prize 2017 Lubaina Himid with one of her works of art titled A Fashionable Marriage, 1986. Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Speaking to presenter Lauren Laverne on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs she said that at that time “the notion of black people being artists was completely alien to people in the British art world”.

Lubaina, a professor of Contemporary Art at the University of Central Lancashire, won the Turner Prize in 2017.

She is the first black woman to win the coveted award and also the oldest.

Asked what her reaction was to those two firsts Lubaina, 65, said: “Being the oldest woman was a killer.

“Although I can count and I know how old I was it was shocking to me to actually understand how old I was.

“I’d lived 63 years and I didn’t have 63 years left but it helped because I have got 15 or 20 years of making left.”

On being the first black woman to be presented with the award Lubaina says it was “bittersweet”.

She added: “There were many black women who have been up for it.

“I was happy to win it but it was bittersweet.”

Lubaina chose tracks from female singers for the radio programme including Downtown from Petula Clark, A Case of You by Joni Mitchell, Nine Pin by Kaia Kater and If I Were A Boy by Beyonce.

On Beyonce’s track Lubaina commented: “The world would be a better place if people, especially me, listened to women.”

Lubaina also revealled how she prefers to work when she is painting.

“From the moment I wake up to the moment I go to sleep I’m listening to some music or another," she said.

“It’s very difficult for me to paint without music on. I kind of use music, strangely not to sink into so much, but sometimes to paint against.”

She also talked about how she is drawn to colours.

“Anyone who knows me knows that quite often I’m trying to paint the perfect grey painting and failing.

“I’m obsessed with colour add how much colour you can get into something that doesn’t have a colour.”