This artist just became the first black woman to win the Turner Prize

Posted by
Moya Crockett
backgroundLayer 1
Add this article to your list of favourites

When asked how she would spend the £25,000 prize money, Lubaina Himid said she would help other artists – and “buy some shoes”.

Lubaina Himid has become the first black woman artist to win the prestigious Turner Prize.

The Zanzibar-born artist, 63, is also the oldest winner of the £25,000 prize, which has previously been awarded to prominent British artists such as Grayson Perry, Gillian Wearing and Chris Ofili.

Himid lives and works in Preston, Lancashire, and is professor of contemporary art at the University of Central Lancashire. 

She was praised by the Turner Prize panel for her “uncompromising tackling of issues including colonial history and how racism persists today”, and “her expansive and exuberant approach to painting which combines satire and a sense of theatre”.

Himid’s work on display at the Turner Prize exhibition in Hull includes porcelain tableware painted with portraits of black slaves and white aristocrats, intended to spark conversations about the lasting impact of the slave trade.

Other artwork includes pages from newspapers with sections painted over to show how they “used black people in a very subtle way which could be said to undermine their identity”, and an installation from 1987 featuring characters including Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan.

The Turner judges said they “acknowledged [Himid’s] role as an influential curator and educator who continues to speak urgently to the moment”.

In her acceptance speech at a ceremony in Hull, the UK City of Culture 2017, Himid thanked “the people who’ve stopped me in the streets of Preston and Hull to wish me luck”, as well as the “dozens of strong, clever artists and curators, mostly women” who she has worked with: “I love them dearly.”

She also thanked her mother “for letting me do what I wanted as a teenager, as long as I came home by 10pm.

“I quickly learned that I could manage to squeeze as much as possible in by 9.55pm,” Himid said, to laughter and applause. 

This is not the first time that Himid’s contribution to the art world has been recognised. She first gained recognition in the Eighties for her involvement in the Black Art movement, and was made an MBE in 2010 for services to black women’s art.

The Telegraph has previously described her as “the under-appreciated hero of black British art”, but her Turner Prize win will likely propel her towards household name status.

Speaking to BBC News after the ceremony, Himid said that she thought her win “will get people talking, which is the point of my work.”

When asked how she would spend the £25,000 prize money, she said: “I spend quite a lot of my money working with other artists, sometimes asking them to make things or helping them to make things when maybe they didn’t get a grant or whatever.

“So I’ll do a bit of that. And I’ll buy some shoes.”

Main image:


Share this article


Moya Crockett

Moya is Contributing Women’s Editor at and Deputy Editor of Stylist Loves, Stylist's daily email newsletter.