Lubaina Himid becomes the oldest winner and first black woman to win Turner Prize

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Artist Lubaina Himid, 63, was awarded the Turner Prize, becoming the oldest winner and first black woman to win the coveted art award.

The Preston-based artist, who was born in Zanzibar, was awarded the £25,000 prize at a ceremony in Hull, the current UK City of Culture, the BBC reported. Himid was praised for her “uncompromising tackling of issues including colonial history and how racism persists today”.

Himid, who was described by The Daily Telegraph as “the under-appreciated hero of black British art,” rose as a leader of the British black arts movement in the 1980s. According to the BBC, her Turner Prize exhibition includes her works from the 1980s to today.

The exhibition’s centrepiece is 1987’s A Fashionable Marriage, which is based on William Hogarth’s Marriage a la Mode. It features a number of cut-out characters, including a flirting Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan.

Other artworks include porcelain dinner sets and painted newspaper pages in a comment on how they “used black people in a very subtle way which could be said to undermine their identity”.

Himid thanked those who gave her sustenance during her “wilderness years,” The Guardian reported. She noted that curators and fellow artists did not overlook her work, but she was never in the press.

“I guess the issues I was dealing with were complex, many-layered, and you’ve got to sell newspapers,” she noted.

The prize’s panel said they admired Himid’s “expansive and exuberant approach to painting which combines satire and a sense of theatre”. The panel added that they “acknowledged her role as an influential curator and educator who continues to speak urgently to the moment”.

She said that winning the prize meant a lot to her. “I won it for all the times where we put our heads above the parapet, we tried to do things, we failed, people died in the meantime… for all the black women who never did win it even though they had been shortlisted…it feels good for that reason,” she said.

Himid is a professor of contemporary art at the University of Central Lancashire. She was made an MBE for services to black women’s art in 2010.

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