Who Are They?

Who is Lubaina Himid?

Get ready to look and think! This artist wants to tell us beautiful stories about friendship and strength

an image of Lubaina Himid standing in front of a house

Lubaina Himid is a British artist. She was born in Zanzibar in 1954 but moved to the UK with her mother when she was only four months old. Her mother was a textile designer. Growing up with a mother who was an artist taught her a lot.

I was living with a woman who was constantly looking at the colour of things, at other people’s clothes. And we were constantly in shops, and we weren’t at shops buying things. We were in shops looking.

Lubaina Himid

She learnt a lot about shapes, colours and making things through looking! What kind of things do you look at everyday? Do you remember them when you’re about to fall asleep at night? Do you look at the colour of things when you go shopping?

Lubaina Himid, ‘Carpet’ 1992
Lubaina Himid
Carpet 1992
Tate
© Lubaina Himid

Himid was part of the Black Arts Movement in the 1980s. This movement included different Black British artists trying to create opportunities and encourage other black artists to show their work. Lots of Lubaina Himid’s artworks are about the strength of Black people throughout history and things they have done for Western culture.

This painting is called Carpet. Like most of Himid’s artwork, it has a lot of bright colours. These patterns and colours look like clothes hanging in the wind or drying in the sun. They also remind us of African patterns and fabrics. The orange rectangle looks like a carpet! The artist says this painting is about how a piece of material can be a clue to things that happened before. A bit like a magic carpet!

Lubaina Himid, ‘Ankledeep’ 1991
Lubaina Himid
Ankledeep 1991
Tate
© Lubaina Himid

Himid is very interested in stories about Black women. Ankledeep shows two Black women standing behind a black shape. The black shape covers most of the women’s bodies. Almost like a sheet. There are pieces of shredded paper dropping from one of the women’s hands. What do you think the story in this painting is about? Some people say these two women are tearing up a map of the past. They want to create a new world where everything is fair. What would you change about the world? What would your new world look like?

Lubaina Himid, ‘The Carrot Piece’ 1985
Lubaina Himid
The Carrot Piece 1985
Tate
© Lubaina Himid

The artwork called The Carrot Piece tells another interesting story about Black history. It shows a white man trying to tempt a Black woman with a carrot. The Black woman is not falling for his trick and is walking away. Her hands are full with everything she needs. Himid says this painting is about how society was not taking Black artists seriously and pretending to respect them. However, they could not be tricked. Instead they educated and loved themselves. What does this painting teach you? Are there things you want to teach your friends about?

Lubaina Himid, ‘Between the Two my Heart is Balanced’ 1991
Lubaina Himid
Between the Two my Heart is Balanced 1991
Tate
© Lubaina Himid

Lubaina Himid paints stories about beautiful friendships, love and kindness. In Between the Two my Heart is Balanced we can see two Black women. They are wearing colourful dresses and sailing on a boat. The artist explained that patterns and clothing are important in her paintings. The dresses are a way for the women to show their personalities to one another and the viewer.

So how do you feel about Lubaina Himid’s art? What do these stories make you think about? What stories do you like to tell?

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