Lancashire's Lubaina Himid makes history as Turner Prize winner

Lubaina Himid accepting the Turner Prize on Tuesday night
Lubaina Himid accepting the Turner Prize on Tuesday night

Lubaina Himid won art’s prestigious Turner Prize

In doing so, the Lancashire artist became the oldest winner and the first black woman to win.

Born in Zanzibar to a Blackpool-born mother, 63-year-old Lubaina now lives and works in Preston as Professor of Contemporary Art at the University of Central Lancashire.

She said she would use her £25,000 winning cheque to help support emerging artists and then added: “And I might buy the odd pair of shoes”.

Lubaina was one of the first artists involved in the Black Art movement in the 1980s and continues to create activist art which is shown in galleries in Britain, as well as worldwide.

The jury said they awarded the prize to Himid for a trio of “outstanding” shows in Oxford, Bristol and Nottingham.

They praised the artist for “her expansive and exuberant approach to painting which combines satire and a sense of theatre”.

Lubaina said: “It’s great to win, especially as so many people were rooting for me.

“It will make a huge difference to my profile and give a platform to the issues I want to champion.

“Maybe my students will listen to me a little more now!”

She added: “I know it sounds like some cliche, but I feel like I won it for a lot of people, so that’s why it means a lot.

“I won it for all the times we put our head above the parapet and we tried to do things and we failed. People have died in the meantime.

“For all the black women who never did win it even though they’ve been shortlisted. It feels good for that reason.”

Asked about her age, she said: “I’ve 63 years behind me. I certainly haven’t got 63 years in front of me. Maybe 15 years worth of painting if I work it at it? So I’ve got a lot to do.”

Alex Farquharson, Director of Tate Britain, who chair the jury, warned this award should not be seen as the Turner Prize becoming a “lifetime achievement award”.

Mr Farquharson said: “The jury was really impressed both the current vitality of Lubaina’s work - as shown by these three exhibitions in Oxford Bristol and Nottingham - as well as the current relevance of three decades of her practice and her importance as a curator and an educator in that time, making - especially back in the 80s - work by black and Asian women visible through exhibitions she made.

“And they were impressed by the seriousness of themes she addressed. They feel they have a lot of resonance in the present - the legacy of colonialism, the different forms racism continues to take. But, also, the weird and visual exuberance with which she conveys them.”

Mr Farquharson said he believed Himid’s selection vindicated the decision to lift the restriction on older artists.

He said: “It reflects well on the motivation for lifting it which is an increasing sense that the work of older artists has been making considerable impact on what we’re looking at and how we’re thinking about art today.

“I think there is no longer an overwhelming focus on youth as equating to what’s innovative in contemporary art.”

But Mr Farquharson added: “I still think that Lubaina winning is still very clearly not about the Turner Prize becoming a lifetime achievement award. I think it’s about the resonance of someone’s work now and someone’s work made back then, in the present moment.”

The prize was presented in Hull by DJ, musician and actor Goldie.

The shortlist included two artists who are over 50. As well as Himid it featured British painter Hurvin Anderson, who is 52.

They were competing against German artist Andrea Buttner and Palestinian-English artist Rosalind Nashashibi, who is Senior Lecturer in Fine Art at Goldsmiths, University of London.

The Turner Prize was first awarded in 1984 and the 50-year-old age limit for nominees was introduced in 1991.

More than 90,000 people have visited the Turner Prize exhibition in Hull.