Himid, Lubaina (5 of 23).  National Life Stories: Artists' Lives

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  • Recording date

    2006-09-11, 2006-09-12, 2006-10-02, 2006-10-03, 2006-11-06, 2006-11-07, 2007-01-15, 2007-01-16

  • Recording locations

    Interviewee's home, Preston

  • Interviewees

    Himid, Lubaina, 1954- (speaker, female)

  • Interviewers

    Dyke, Anna, (speaker, female)

  • Abstract

    Part 5: [1:22:05] Reflects on quality of education at Maida Vale & Paddington Girls School; poetry; art - discipline of prolonged hard work, and talking. Head girl - being popular. Played romantic leads Robert Browning and Count Orsino in school plays. Enjoyed rehearsals, discovering character, but not performing. Likes plays, spectacle, but doesn’t want to do it. Interest in construction of language and narrative; searching for what’s underneath the narrative. Never wanted to write novel or play; prefers short texts and poems. Becoming interested in poetry; English teacher Miss Wallace; appreciating Shakespeare; using everyday words, expressing big subject in concise form - LH’s writing now. Took part in poetry readings at the Roundhouse. Liked Betjeman’s poetry - funny and could be recited. Also Gerard Manley Hopkins, Browning; English poetry. Maupassant, Flaubert short stories; Chekhov plays - exotic, tragic, romantic. Not then reading African or African American writers - still afraid of reading about tragedy of C20th Africa. Winning Observer Poetry Prize; poems came easier to LH than art; regrets not reading English at university. LH’s consistent use of text in her art, eg. ‘Naming the Money’. [20:52] Decision to go to art school, after failing to get onto stage management course. ‘A’ level work - stage sets. Encouraged to apply for Foundation and theatre design course at Wimbledon Art School. Foundation course in office building in South Wimbledon; students, atmosphere, course structure, tutors. Working very hard; daily routine. Making costumes and props from found materials, rather than painting. Fine Art at Wimbledon then meant portraiture, life model and still-life painting. Theatre design was more open - process of discovery, an exciting way of working. Degree course building at Merton Hall Rd. First year; friends Lucy Annan, architect, Richard Hudson [RH], theatre designer. Course structure; enjoyed research process. Disappointed by having to design for opera and ballet, rather than spoken word theatre, Brecht. Never very good at technical drawing - example, or costume-making. Enjoyed dying fabrics. Making props from latex, wood etc. Second year huts; LH with designers rather than makers. Arguments with tutors - couldn’t conform; stronger relationships with other students and friends outside of art school. RH as student. LH didn’t have passion for theatre by time of leaving, or since. Loves ‘Norma’, ‘Dido & Aeneus’, ‘Magic Flute’, ‘Celestina’; LH’s models for Hoffman’s [‘Olympia’] - not practical for West End theatre. Worked with Greek fringe theatre group [name?]; made props rather than sets; but no money - so waitressed in PT’s restaurant in Covent Garden; liked theatre of restaurant. Became interested in making art for real places; still thought painting was pretentious. Made cut outs, painted directly on wall, menus. Started putting work on walls by artist friends, held private views - a sort-of curator, bringing people together; envisioned working as restaurant designer, running gallery spaces. Showed work by RH, Peter Farley, Terence Bartlett, Minna Thornton, Thelan & Susie Black. Has never ‘selected’ work. Mina Thornton; Gary Stevens as dinner party guest. Mentions Marlowe Russell [MR], LH’s girlfriend (after PT).[1:02:59] Began working as gallery girl in Artists’ Market run by Vera Russell, where LH first showed work, in Black Art show. Vera Russell’s approach to selling art. Impact of David Hockney’s ‘Paper Pools’; everyone came to see the show; first realising the power of fine art - making connection between artists and art. Meeting artists, eg. Yolanda Sonnabend, Maggi Hambling. Hockney’s visit to the gallery. [1:12:40] LH wasn’t directly influenced by artists; was trying to make work which was different to what was on gallery walls; made cut-outs. Cut-outs were used outside restaurants, or in stately homes to signal occupancy - cross between furniture and paintings. Trying to make the ordinary more special. LH’s method of making cut-outs. Recent show (‘Naming the Money’) - only time LH has used assistants. Painted them with house paint, whatever was available. (Late ‘70s/early ‘80s) became interested in colour and paint. Practical, project management aspect of LH’s work in early days. Same spirit as Cruikshank, Gillray. LH wasn’t interested in making paintings; wanted to make things which were in the room - like theatre in the street. A cut-out in a domestic space changed that space, whereas work on wall didn’t. [1:22:05] [End of recording]

  • Related transcripts

    Lubaina Himid interviewed by Anna Dyke: full transcript of the interview

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