Lubaina Himid (b. 1954, Zanzibar, lives and works in Preston) works in painting, drawing, installation and printmaking. A member of the Black Arts Movement of the 1980s, her work is politically critical, tackling questions of race, gender and class.
Her signature ‘cut-outs’ paintings are made on freestanding, shaped board allowing viewers to walk amongst them. A 100 cut-outs represent African slaves in the royal courts of eighteenth century Europe, put to work as ceramicists, herbalists, toy makers, dog trainers, viola da gamba players, drummers, dancers, shoemakers, map makers and painters. A soundtrack gives voice to the figures, speaking of their fluid identities, shifting between their original African names and trades and the new names and professions imposed upon them in Europe. Moving among them suggests the possibility of a conversation across time.
Himid has said, ‘The point I am often exploring vis-à-vis the black experience is that of being so very visible and different in the White Western everyday yet so invisible and disregarded in the cultural, historical, political or economic record or history.’
Lubiana is currently exhibiting at Spike Island, Bristol, UK: spikeisland.org.uk