Lubaina Himid (b. Zanzibar, Tanzania, 1954), who was awarded the Turner Prize in 2017, has generously produced a series of unique acrylic paintings on found ceramics especially for Tate.
The series, titled Spare Parts, 2019 is about hidden potential and the luxury of being able to dream. Himid selected second-hand ceramic objects, such as bowls and jugs, from charity shops around Britain, including London, York, Manchester and Preston, where she lives and works. Taking objects with their own histories, she has overpainted a portait or a pattern to create a new story or aspiration.
Overpainting has become central to Himid's practise, with works painted on maps, postcards, drawers and doors. For Himid, it could be that the past 'needs to be partially obliterated or perhaps it's just that there is something very exciting about watching something familiar disappear forever'.
This small series for Tate is closely aligned to Swallow Hard: The Lancaster Dinner Service, commissioned by Lancaster Museum. Himid, whose paintings often respond to omissions in Western art history, took found ceramics and partially painted over them with imagery connected with the establishment, development and subsequent abolition of the slave trade. On each ceramic object, the faces of the unknown and unnamed black slave servants intermingle with the original design as the new painting fails to hide the identity of the old.
For Spare Parts, 2019 the portraits are accompanied by hand-painted titles such as The Gardener, or The Mechanic, informing us of an aspect of their identities. Himid explains the works are 'designed to prompt thoughts about the possibility of moving away from trauma into a place of creative strength'.
The limited edition works are all hand-painted by the artist and signed on the underside of the ceramic object. Each is accompanied by a signed certificate and is not for re-sale.
Lubaina Himid was born in 1954 in Zanzibar, Tanzania. She studied Theatre Design at Wimbledon College of Art and an M.A in Cultural History at the Royal College of Art. She is Professor of Contemporary Art at the University of Central Lancashire.
Himid makes paintings, prints, drawings and installations which celebrate Black creativity and the people of the African diaspora while challenging institutional invisibility. She references the slave industry and its legacies, and addresses the hidden and neglected cultural contribution made by real but forgotten people.
In Naming the Money, 2014, 100 cut-out life size figures depict Black servants and labourers who Himid individualises, giving each of them a name and story to work against the sense of the powerless mass. She often takes her paintings off the gallery wall so that her images become objects that surround the viewer. Whether working on Guardian newspapers or directly onto porcelain tableware, Himid continually subjects painting to the material of everyday life in order to explore Black identity.
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