Himid, Lubaina (11 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 11: [Session Five: 6 November 2006] [1:46:03] [Note: Mono recording, with interference on LH’s mic, until 1:17:11] LH reflects on experience of being in big Black Art shows, eg. GLC exhibitions, ‘Creation for Liberation’ 1985, ‘New Horizons’ at Festival Hall; a celebration, but not taken seriously by press; didn’t aid development of the work. Selection of work, hanging; ‘Race Today’, Darcus Howe; EC, KP. Black artists as pawn in political game - LH’s shows in response, focussing on fewer artists. Speculates on impact of GLC shows; work LH displayed in them - restrictions on what was shown. Difficult experience talking to Darcus Howe at private view, feeling she had to explain her family background/credentials. EC and KP’s involvement in local authority shows. LH then hadn’t decided to be either artist or curator/facilitator; influence of theatre design training. Interested in what the artist was getting from the show; but not in terms of selling work - contrast to ‘YBA’ generation. Work displayed in the local authority shows; lack of time to make new work; budgets. LH showed cut-outs, fighting dogs, toys; ‘We Will Be’ appeared often in black art shows. Questions who the shows were for. Not integrated with commercial art world, critics, collectors etc; none of the artists were thinking of nurturing collectors. Mentions Zarina Bhimji, then at Goldsmiths. LH didn’t see YBA generation coming - artist-initiated shows, inviting dealers and collectors. Lack of connection with successful white artists; LH’s friends were theatre designers; Marlo Russell. Lack of interest from dealers; SB showed at Basel Art Fair; Iwona Blaswick came to Elbow Room; but not collectors or critics; press. LH and VR showed at Blond Fine Art, Regent St. Blond unable to talk about/sell the work. In retrospect, LH still wouldn’t make work in order to sell - would have to temper the work. Black artists’ work was speaking to other black people; lack of black collectors. Opening of the Elbow Room in Vine Yard; the whole black art world came, Black Audio Film Collective etc. Speculates if she’d stayed in London, LH would have focussed on making shows, developing other artists, rather than own art. Lots of black artists in London then - but needed curators, critics, dealers etc - not Arts Council - to develop work; objective of ‘TTBL’, ‘Unrecorded Truths’ - KP’s work; LH’s role in making shows. Opinion of Institute for International Visual Arts [INIVA]; established (in late ‘80s) by Arts Council, Sandy Nairne. Black art hijacked into ‘international art’; mentions Robin Claznick. INIVA diluted black art; didn’t have teeth to take on European art world. Useful as archive. INIVA’s aims; but not taken seriously by general art world, eg. KP hasn’t had show at Tate, VR hasn’t shown at Serpentine, in the twenty years since. INIVA; role of Gavin Jantjes, Sandy Nairne, art historian Gilane Tawadros. Details LH’s feud with INIVA - strategic mistake. Regained contact with INIVA 2001 via SB. INIVA shows included KP, Alain de Souza, SB; but not radical enough. Role of David A. Bailey, ‘Back to Black’, ‘Harlem Renaissance’ shows; but not trying to alter how art is shown. TTBL, Unrecorded Truths - trying to change what art looked like, eg. DR’s stencils on bedsheets, KP’s book on plinth. (Late ‘80s) an opportunity lost. Reflects on MS convincing LH to focus on being artist. Better at making shows with other artists. Not ‘brave’ enough as an artist; refers to Damien Hirst, Rothko. [1:03:45] LH’s show ‘A Fashionable Marriage’ at Pentonville Gallery. Hogarth painting. LH on London Arts Board, and Arts Council advisor (since before TTBL) - when left London, proposed David A. Bailey to take over. Pentonville Gallery, Tottenham Ct Rd; cut-out installation. Traumatic split with MR. Moved to studios off Kingsland Rd; focussed on work rather than personal life. Crowded opening; press eg. Andrew Nairne; Blond couldn’t sell the work. Work made from found materials; offensive imagery; describes main scene, a critique of feminist artists eg. Mary Kelly, and black woman artist as footnote to history; Sarah Kent review. Invited to show at Rochdale Art Gallery; curator Jill Morgan [JM]. Realising that people had been watching LH’s work for several years. Reflects on MS’ idea to leave London; perils of being outside London. Sarah Kent review of LH’s shows at Tutton’s; coverage of shows subsequently. LH’s reaction to criticism (‘ungrateful’) of ‘Fashionable Marriage’; Rasheed Araeen referred to it in ‘The Other Story’ catalogue. White critics took credit for success of black artists. Biggest impact came from protestors in Brixton - led to black artists being taken seriously. Thought it was last show she’d ever make - so put everything in to it. Describes the cut-outs; found materials from skips; working process, theatre design influence, working collaboratively; its qualities - brave, vulgar, crude. Now more interested in how a thing looks, rather than what it does. Describes the ‘Eager Listener’; critique of Susan Hiller, Judy Chicago, Mary Kelly - speaking to critics/collectors, rather than galvanising women; contrast to black artists trying to speak to a black public. Satirical work; responses to ‘Fashionable Marriage’. [1:35:18] Reflects on skills as artist; always focussed on what the work did, rather than technique. Wouldn’t compare her work with others’; work of VR, SB; all pieces of a jigsaw. LH’s work in ‘From Two Worlds’ at Whitechapel Gallery, made from everyday found materials. Interest in murals, street painting. Describes work of Mozambique artist Malangatana. LH’s people look posed rather then moving. Describes LH’s Roundhouse mural; included repainting of Picasso’s Three Musicians. Mentions Tam Joseph [TJ]. [1:46:03]

  • Related transcripts

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

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