Lubaina Himid has won this year’s Turner Prize, becoming the oldest recipient of the accolade at the age of 63. She is also the first black woman to receive the award.
African-born, Lancashire-based Himid was praise by judges for her “uncompromising tackling of issues including colonial history and how racism persists today.”
The announcement was made an an event in Hull, currently the UK’s City of Culture. On winning the £25,000 cheque, she said she would use the money to help support emerging artists, adding: “… and I might buy the odd pair of shoes.”
Alex Farquharson, director of Tate Britain and chair of the jury, said he believed Himid’s selection vindicated the decision to lift the restriction on artists over 50 being nominated.
“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,” Farquharson said.
“I think there is no longer an overwhelming focus on youth as equating to what’s innovative in contemporary art.”
“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.”
Himid’s work, which includes paintings, prints, drawings and installations, focuses on black creativity, slavery, the African diaspora and racial politics.
She was born in Zanzibar in 1954 and is Professor of Contemporary Art at the University of Central Lancashire, in Preston.
“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,” Himid said.
“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.”