Preston artist makes history with prestigious Turner Prize win

Lubaina Himid
Lubaina Himid
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Lubaina Himid has won art's prestigious Turner Prize.

Born in Zanzibar, 62-year-old Lubaina now lives in Preston and was the oldest ever Turner nominee, she was also the favourite for the prize, awarded at 9.50pm.

DJ Goldie (left) and Maria Jane Balshaw Director of the Tate congratulate Lubaina Himid as the winner of Turner Prize 2017

DJ Goldie (left) and Maria Jane Balshaw Director of the Tate congratulate Lubaina Himid as the winner of Turner Prize 2017

She is a Professor of Contemporary Art at the University of Central Lancashire and her art focuses on themes of cultural identity.

She was one of the first artists involved in the Black Art movement in the 1980s and continues to create activist art which is shown in galleries in Britain, as well as worldwide.

The jury said they awarded the prize to Himid for a trio of "outstanding" shows in Oxford, Bristol and Nottingham.

They praised the artist for "her expansive and exuberant approach to painting which combines satire and a sense of theatre".

Lubaina 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.”

Alex Farquharson, Director of Tate Britain, who chair the jury, warned this award should not be seen as the Turner Prize becoming a "lifetime achievement award".

Mr Farquharson said: "The jury was really impressed both the current vitality of Lubaina's work - as shown by these three exhibitions in Oxford Bristol and Nottingham - as well as the current relevance of three decades of her practice and her importance as a curator and an educator in that time, making - especially back in the 80s - work by black and Asian women visible through exhibitions she made.

"And they were impressed by the seriousness of themes she addressed. They feel they have a lot of resonance in the present - the legacy of colonialism, the different forms racism continues to take. But, also, the weird and visual exuberance with which she conveys them."

Mr Farquharson said he believed Himid's selection vindicated the decision to lift the restriction on older artists.

He said: "It reflects well on the motivation for lifting it which is an increasing sense that the work of older artists has been making considerable impact on what we're looking at and how we're thinking about art today.

"I think there is no longer an overwhelming focus on youth as equating to what's innovative in contemporary art."

But Mr Farquharson added: "I still think that Lubaina winning is still very clearly not about the Turner Prize becoming a lifetime achievement award. I think it's about the resonance of someone's work now and someone's work made back then, in the present moment."

The prize was presented in Hull as one of the highlights of the Hull 2017 celebrations, which have been hailed a huge success.

The shortlist included two artists who are over 50. As well as Himid it featured British painter Hurvin Anderson, who is 52.

They were competing against German artist Andrea Buttner and Palestinian-English artist Rosalind Nashashibi, who is Senior Lecturer in Fine Art at Goldsmiths, University of London.
The Turner Prize was first awarded in 1984 and the 50-year-old age limit for nominees was introduced in 1991 to encourage emerging artists.

Since then it has been won by figures who are now the best known names in British art, including Damien Hirst in 1995; Anthony Gormley in 1994; Anish Kapoor in 1991; Grayson Perry in 2003 and Steve McQueen in 1999.

Before the 1991 age limit, the first two winners - Malcolm Morley in 1984 and Howard Hodgkin in 1985 - were both in their 50s.

The Turner Prize award is £40,000 with £25,000 going to the winner and £5,000 each for the other shortlisted artists.

More than 90,000 people have visited the Turner Prize exhibition in Hull's refurbished Ferens Art Gallery.

Turner Prize 2017 will continue to be open to the public at the Ferens until January 7.