Himid, Lubaina (18 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 18: [2:07:06] ‘Picturing Blackness’ show at Tate. Virginia Button came to LH’s home 1992, to look through all her work; initially for a show about masculinity. ‘Picturing Blackness’; Tate needed paintings of black people by black artists. Learning how paintings are bought for a specific agenda; manipulation of an audience. Not about buying more black work for the collection; instead ticking a box. But great feeling to see the work (‘Between the Two My Heart is Balanced’) on Tate walls. [07:40] Show included SB, Alain de Souza, Ron Moody. The hanging - the works didn’t speak to each other. Importance of SB’s work ‘Mr Next Door Friend of the Family’, made for TTBL. SB’s character; determination; balancing work with family life; talking about the ‘80s - keeping the record straight; good communicator with other artists. SB comment re-LH’s influence on SB’s career. Friendship now; rely on each other to be holders of the history; SB in communication with different artists eg. Isaac Julien. [18:35] LH and SB’s relationships with dealers, Blond and Gimpel Fils. No dealers instrumental in helping black artists as a whole; Stephen Friedman with YS, Victoria Miro with Chris Ofili. Lack of black collectors in Britain; David Lambie MP; white collectors in U.S. eg. Peter Norton. Thinks black artists will be the collectors of black art and influence how black art is in next 20 years; LH buys works via University of Central Lancashire, eg. SB, Chris Ofili; David A. Bailey, SB, Sutapa Biswas have to buy the work. [26:55] LH and partner Susan Walsh’s video project re-the representation of black artists and works in the Tate collection; curating policy; they’re not convinced of the importance of the work. LH has realised that to get Tate to buy more you must speak the language of objects/aesthetics rather than politics. Conversations with education curators eg. Lindsey Fryer at Tate Liverpool. Black artists don’t talk about their work as objects, eg. ‘Naming the Money’, but what it does politically. How to talk to curators. LH’s long communication with Tate. [35:39] Suggesting to Nic Serota that Tate Modern put on a Romare Bearden [RB] show. RB’s collages; makes it appear possible to make art. Showing individual Black American masters - impact it would have on public. [41:50] ‘Venetian Maps’ series; ‘Ceramicists’ was made into greetings card by Tate; describes the image. Importance of having images on cards of black people. Show at Harris Art Gallery in Preston; 9 weeks to make 9 paintings. Describes ‘Shoemakers’. Ideas behind ‘Venetian Maps’ series; finding traces of black people and the things they made. Wrote a short story for each painting; suggested links between them, and between the image and the viewer. [53:05] Paraphrases one of the stories; a relationship lost because of a twist of fate. Describes the show; also showed paperworks from ‘Beach House’ and monument works from ‘Revenge’. Time pressure to make the work. LH read the texts at the opening. Wouldn’t show them with the work. Would like to publish a book one day of all the poetic texts from the shows. Relationship between the paintings and the text; not illustrations for the paintings, but run parallel. Leaving room for viewer to bring their experiences to the work. [Pause] [1:05:15] 1995 ‘Portraits & Heroes’ show of paperworks at Peg Alston Gallery. Portraits of Toussaint L’Ouverture; Romare Bearden; Yaa Asantewaa, Ghanaian Ashanti chief; poet Audrey Lorde; Augustus Savage; Bessie Smith. But on reflection, not a show made from the heart. Interest in important historical figures, but those who aren’t talked about; bringing them into conversations. Same media - Liquitex acrylics; but different style for each portrait. Makes work in style appropriate for the idea; or to challenge herself. When it hasn’t worked - didn’t have enough time to edit. Commercial disadvantage to use different styles; but not interested in working commercially; needs artistic freedom; motivation for making the work. [1:17:36] ‘Hogarth on Hogarth’ show at V&A. Rosemary Miles [RM] had for long period collected print work by black artists. Had seen LH’s ‘Fashionable Marriage’ at Pentonville Gallery, and ‘Toussaint L’Ouverture’ series owned by Arts Council. LH showed RM ‘Word Not Found’ but conservation concern; so bought 6 paperworks from ‘Fashionable Marriage’, Thatcher, Reagan, boy slave servant. [1:23:02] Describes the ‘Hogarth’ show; [pause] LH, Hockney, Tony Phillips, Gilray, Cruikshank. Importance of Hogarth’s work. LH is currently examining Gilray’s work; his abolition cartoons. Work in progress, ‘Lancaster Dinner Service’. [1:31:15] Current interest in Hogarth, eg. YS; David Dabydeen’s book ‘Hogarth’s Blacks’; discussions in 1980s re-history of back people in Britain. Opinion of Paula Rego’s work. Hogarth by accident doing great favour to black people, showing their presence; showing how nothing changes in society. [1:37:12] Experience of making ‘Plan B’. Had known Mike Tooby [MT] since ‘Into the Open’ at Mappin Gallery. MT had seen ‘Beach Houses’; wanted LH to do something similar for Tate St Ives. LH then making 10ft paperworks - interiors of rooms, patterns, ornate furniture. Showing sketchbooks and texts to MT; talked about St Ives, shipwrecks, weather, Laura Knight paintings. How LH’s work developed to bring in the sea; the insides of beach houses. [1:43:35] MT invited LH for sort-of residency at Tate St Ives; in October 1998 and March 1999. Details of first visit; working in community hall, then took over lifeguard’s office as workspace - description. Development of the work. Looking at Tate building. [1:53:22] Escape narrative in the work/texts. Talking with residents of old people’s home; watching the tides. Interest in conjurer’s tricks; tricks to distract the eye. Happy working period - having a lot of time to work. Making photographs, texts, diaries, visiting Barbara Hepworth’s garden; seeing Tate between exhibitions. Life-changing experience. Interest in empty swimming pools. Paintings of interiors full of water; with window out to water/sea; setting up question of which is more dangerous; danger in ‘safe’ situations. [2:02:18] Shown in November 1999 in Gallery 5; describes the space. Having the work crated - respect shown to the work. Describes MT’s hanging of the show. Savouring the moment; still proud of the work. [2:07:06]

  • Related transcripts

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

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