Himid, Lubaina (9 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 9: [53:41] Researching other black artists while at RCA; each contact brought new people. CJ, EC, KP, DR, held Black Art Conference in Wolverhampton, where LH met hundreds of artists etc; lectures by EC, Rasheed Araeen; very male, strident. CJ suggested the women discuss their issues in another space; CJ’s role in black women’s movement. Met Chila Burman; Araeen; understood it was important that the work was written about. Importance of that conference. The Midlands artists decided to move to London, to connect and organise. Work still needs to be done in rest of Britain. Hearing about history of black art in Britain; RA’s generation of artists who came to Britain post-war, eg. Ron Moody, Uzo Egonu. Opinion of their work and strategy; LH and peers decided to start at year zero - view of this in hindsight. ‘Into the Open’ exhibition included these artists, but lack of real dialogue between the generations. 1990s generation’s tactics. [12:01] Interested in feminist work. LH was trying to make work which was pleasurable to look at, but also subversive. Not interested in work which just shocked, or was reaction to men; eg. Judy Chicago, Susan Heller, Mary Kelly. Enjoyed lusciousness of Bridget Riley, Rothko, Tissou, Matisse. Also looking at other students, photographs, buildings, London; becoming own person. [16:44] Didn’t research work in commercial galleries; interested in showing rather than selling. VR more interested in aesthetics, selling; strength of the group - that there were different paths to follow. Didn’t then understand importance of selling/collecting in order for the work to survive and enter public collections. [21:04] Making own art, while organising shows of others’ work - and now whilst teaching. Aesthetics were only important in order to make you do something. Describes CJ’s work. LH’s work; didn’t look to others for inspiration. Strategy to work in different ways in the hope that one succeeds. Organising time; always thinking about or making work; textile/theatre design influence - project management. 1981-83, made limited amount of work, but major pieces; didn’t understand relationship between status and volume of work. Other artists/designers LH knew held day jobs, worked in spare time; not making for self, but to do a job/make a point. Father’s death; LH’s sense of mortality; impetus to get things done; join things up, do many things at once. Perceived slowness of change in 1980s; different view in hindsight. Important to make the shows of others’ work, as well as make own work. [33:24] Discovering work of EC, DR, KP. EC’s screenprints; manipulating printed image - golliwogs, black images in advertising, iconic images of slavery, ‘Boys Own’ illustrations; naming things - BLCK Art Group. KP’s paintings; Bible imagery; prophetic warnings; related to daily news, eg. ‘Another Nigger Died Today’; upbringing in Midlands among National Front, racist white communities. DR’s work; humour; sickle cell anaemia. LH met DR at his Nottingham art school degree show; ‘Pig’s Head’. All made references to Black American politics, lynchings. Warning notices put on their shows. Admirable, brave work. Left room for black women artists to do separate thing. Would argue EC, KP, DR were speaking to white audience; LH interested in reflecting black audience. More critical writing on the men’s work than the women’s, eg. Paul Gilroy, except SB, IP. Strength that all happening at same time. Has since influenced LH’s work - eg. makes political pieces because those artists are less visible now. To still say those things, in art. Negative black images in Guardian still. [53:41]

  • Related transcripts

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

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