IWD2020: Creative Women Profile - Lubaina Himid CBE

05 March 2020 by Michelle

As part of our series celebrating pioneering and trailblazing local women for International Women's Day 2020, we asked Lubaina Himid CBE, the first black Turner Prize winner, for her thoughts on being a creative woman in Lancashire.

IWD2020: Creative Women Profile - Lubaina Himid CBE

Lubaina Himid CBE is an award-winning artist and Professor of Contemporary Art at the University of Central Lancashire. She is also the first black woman to win the prestigious Turner Prize (in 2017, at the age of 62). In 2018, she was elected a member of the Royal Academy of the Arts. Born in Zanzibar, Lubaina was raised in London before moving to Preston thirty years ago.

She was an influential pioneer in the Black Art movement of the 1980s, and her paintings and installations are a celebration of black creativity. Lubaina’s work explores ideas around black British representation and identity, and also the role of museums within the cultural histories and representation of the African diaspora. Her recent 'Hard Times' exhibition was hosted at The Harris Museum and Art Gallery in Preston in 2018.  

"A Fashionable Marriage" - on display at The Harris Museum & Art Gallery in 2018

We asked Lubaina a few questions about what it’s like being a creative here. She highlighted the very real challenges that artists, particularly female artists, face in the current political and economic landscape, but also the rewards which employing steadfast, hard-working  “Northern grit” can bring.  

What are the highs and lows of being a creative in Lancashire?

Being a creative in Lancashire is difficult for many reasons; limited funding, poor accommodation, disinterested curators, minimal showing space and few real opportunities.

However, what I love is that all the artists I know who work around and beyond these barriers, those who look outwards and exhibit internationally, are able to make their careers work here through sheer hard graft and a belief in each other.  

What advice would you give to creative women starting out?  

My advice for women starting out is to make sure that you are the sort of person who loves to work, to experiment and test ideas until they almost break. Don’t be afraid to fail, learn to fill in funding forms and don’t bother complaining - no one is really listening.     

What does Lancashire have to offer as a county for creatives that other regions might not?  What are the challenges to being here?

Lancashire is a county with many amazing assets such as access to the coast, the lakes and the hills, marvellous if you drive (sadly I don’t). It’s towns and cities have beautiful Victorian Art Galleries, which if they were led by staff who were truly passionate about contemporary art could be world leading.

I’d love to say that it feels safe and welcoming, but after the vote to leave the EU, I’ve realised that this county has changed during the 30 years I’ve lived here, and not for the better.

More about Lubaina's work

In this video, Lubaina discusses three of her art works and installations, exhibited at Modern Art Oxford and Spike Island in Bristol. She explains how her creative process extends beyond the art work, to take into account how audiences may perceive and engage with her work.


You can read more about her achievements here: https://www.uclan.ac.uk/news/prestigious-award-turner-prize-artist.php  and her website is here: https://lubainahimid.uk/

Find out more about the other creative women featured in our IWD2020 series via our news page.

Look out for more profiles featuring creative women from or connected to the county in further articles throughout the week in the lead up to International Women's Day on 8 March 2020.

International Women's Day provides an important opportunity to celebrate women's achievements while calling for greater equality.


Image credits: Bio pic by Denise Swanson for UCLan and The Harris Museum exhibition photo courtesy of  Hollybush Gardens Art Gallery

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