Artist Lubaina Himid becomes oldest winner of Britain’s controversial Turner Prize
Lubaina Himid, 63, on Tuesday became the oldest winner of the Turner Prize, Britain’s most prestigious yet controversial visual art award, for her works celebrating black creativity.
Judges praised the Zanzibar-born artist for the “seriousness of themes she addressed”, paying tribute to the “current vitality of Lubaina’s work as well as the current relevance” of it in three decades past.
The winning artist said she felt “like I won it for a lot of people, so that’s why it means a lot.
“For all the black women who never did win it even though they’ve been shortlisted. It feels good for that reason.”
Musician Goldie presented the £25,000 (US$32,000) award at the ceremony in Hull, northern England, to mark its year as UK City of Culture.
The jury made its decision on the back of Himid’s trio of exhibitions in Oxford, Bristol and Nottingham, which showcased her paintings, prints and installations.
Her exhibits on show include wooden figures, a cast of cut-out characters including Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan and a porcelain dinner set painted with images of black slaves.
Himid was one of two artists aged over 50 on the four-person shortlist after age limits were lifted.
The other finalists included Hurvin Anderson, Andrea Buettner and Rosalind Nashashibi.
British painter Anderson’s works use still-life, landscape and portraiture to explore themes of community and identity, drawing upon his Jamaican heritage.
Palestinian-English artist Nashashibi works primarily in 16-millimetre film to present domestic life in the Gaza Strip.
German artist Buettner works in woodcuts, prints, sculpture and video. She has transcribed the finger smudges on her smartphone screen into colourful etchings, worked with nuns and used the fabric of labourers’ jackets to explore ideas of shame and vulnerability.
The jury were “impressed by the seriousness of themes” addressed by Himid, said Alex Farquharson, director of Tate Britain, who chaired the jury.
“They feel they have a lot of resonance in the present – the legacy of colonialism, the different forms racism continues to take,” he added. “But, also, the weird and visual exuberance with which she conveys them.”
The prize is awarded to a Britain-based artist for an outstanding exhibition or presentation of work in the preceding 12 months. The other nominees receive £5,000.
Named after J.M.W. Turner, the British Romanticist landscape painter, the prize has often sparked controversy.
Winners have included Damien Hirst in 1995 with pieces including a rotting cow’s head, and Chris Ofili, who incorporated elephant dung into his paintings in 1998.
Tracey Emin’s My Bed, a stained bed surrounded with detritus, drew huge attention when shortlisted in 1999.