Lubaina Himid is a Turner Prize-winning artist, curator and Professor of Contemporary Art at the University of Central Lancashire. Lubaina was born in Zanzibar in 1954. Her mother was from Britain and her father was originally from the Comoros Islands. He died from malaria when Lubaina was just a few months old, and so she and her mother returned to England. She studied Theatre Design at the Wimbledon College of Art and began organising exhibitions of works by fellow black women artists in the early 1980s as part of the Black Art Movement. Her own work focuses on black identity, often shining a light on the slave trade and the contribution made by the people of the black diaspora. She was the first black woman to win the Turner Prize, and was also its oldest winner, at the age of 63. She was appointed an MBE in 2010 and a CBE in 2018. She lives and works in Preston. BOOK CHOICE: Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy LUXURY ITEM: An endless supply of self-ironing Japanese shirts CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Suzanne by Nina Simone Presenter: Lauren Laverne Producer: Cathy Drysdale
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Previously sounds music radio broadcasts, oh event, and this is the desert island discs podcast. Every week I ask my guest to choose the eight tracks book and luxury they want to take with them if they were cast away to a desert island for rights reasons. The music is shorter than the original broadcast out. You enjoy listening my castaway this week? Is the otter, sleep beta him eat. She made headlines when she won the turn a prize in twenty seventeen, but her career began forty years ago, She decided to issue set design for a different kind of theatre. Many out catalogues talk about
mercy of installations, but hers really walk the walk. One piece posts, one hundred life size figures that the audience must weave amongst, on other features huge flag, hung on giant police, which we are invited to move and rearrange black identity, creativity, politics and the law lives of the people of the african diaspora of recurrent theme in her work. She describes himself as a fellow enough gaps working to make visible now it is that might otherwise go unrecorded. She says I need to be able to see myself. I need to make paintings that feel. Like what it means to be me. We need to We belong in those shared spaces, telling stories of the black experience that both every day and extraordinary is what I'm here to do. Lubin Hamid welcome to desert island discs figure in march
be the everyday and the extraordinary that sounds like a very satisfying brief and pleasingly broad as well wait. Where do you look for the stories that you want to tell? Well, I guess I listen to people I hear about my family- is listened to them. Talk about the past. I read a loan of books and I suppose I've tried to sort of be kind of invisible. I'm work a bit like a right. spying on people. I guess it follows, then that the audience is central to your work me. What part today play well because I trained as a theatre designer I really kind of believe and my work doesnt work unless someone's actually looking at it. You know in a play. You have to feel the heat from the audience and any kind of act and perform to that heat and I absolutely know that audiences in art galleries are coming. To bring their own stories. They bring there,
nor they bring their lives to the space. So it's a place where those two sets of store is, or hopefully, hundreds thousands of destroyed kind of collide in the room using the work as a kind of conversation? You don't shy away from tough subjects, but it is impossible not to be struck by how it's you, Brennan joyful. Your work is: where does that come from? Do you think everybody who knows me knows what quite often I'm trying to paint the perfect grey painting and failing so I'm obsessed with color and how much color you can get into something but doesn't have a color But I have this strange thing happened to me where I have an idea. I know exactly what is going to be like, but then I mean this duty. and my hand kind of those towards them,
poland in orange, whom the yellow and the brightest blue among some kinda workin here, the first of your music choices. There are some very beautiful tracks, a lot of great female singers. Today, what part does music pain you like? Well from the moment I wake up to the moment. I go to sleep, I'm listening to some music or other, it's very, very difficult for me to paint without music on but I kind of use music strangely not to sink into so much, but sometimes to kind of paint against its really important. But I'm not an expert, I'm just I'm an eagle, listen! Let it is first disk, then why have you chosen this well, both it's fabulous, there's something very important being said here about how the world would be a better place if people and its especially men listened to women
just listen to her guys and see if I were a boy looping him. did, you ve said that your painting, the parts of that women's lives that nobody paints what's been missing will was missing, is that we are just I wouldn't worry. You know if we do what
the women. Do we feel what other women feel when not super sexy, super dangerous or heroic we're just ourselves, and I think that's that's the challenge me I've seen too many movies or tv things where the black woman is dead in the first ten minutes. You know we're not tragic. Either we just ourselves and that's what we want to be you and the ten prize in twenty seventeen and among the works that you one full. Was your installation naming the money each character? when it was a stand alone? Could out figure on the audit would wander among them. Tell me a little bit about the inspiration for the peace I'd seen some astonishing,
paintings in la rochelle many years before that were paintings of black slaves. Servants who were presents from the king of spain to the king of france, and so they were beautifully dressed and we have these sashes going the front of their costumes. That said, you know, my name is John Pierre and I am a brilliant loot player, I'm so ready I lifted this idea combine those two sorts of ideas about paintings about ownership. Out servants about naming and about money and made this hundred piece installation and it he, I suppose, when you're in it, you need to feel like you're at a wedding or you're at a party. You know and in britain. It is sometimes unless you're at awaiting our party, it's quite difficult to be in the
A room is another hundred black people, and so it was an opportunity for some of us to do that. You, the oldest person in the first black woman, to receive the awards. What will your thoughts about that when you won? The turner was much remarked upon, wasn't much rebound upon the the being the old, was really a killer, because, although I can count you know- and I knew how old I was- it was shocking to nato- actually understand how that was because I lived sixty three is and then I didn't have sixty three years left, but it helped because I feel ok, I've got probably fifteen twenty years worth of standing up a making that I could do so. I'd better, really do the things I want to do
yeah the being first black woman to win it as a bit bitter sweet ready, because there were many black women who then up for it in the hole in the recent history of theme of the prize. So I was happy to win it, but it was bitter sweetly and what's the legacy? the wind for you I mean what people have said to me is that it gave them hope that thing. Were changing and I absolutely no, because I've been around long enough to know that things are changing, but we have to kind of hang onto it and build on it. It's time to go to the music. Tell us about your second desk. Why have you chosen it? Will I'm very interested in for all sorts of reasons in madness? Artists are often described as mad as a mad idea, or had this mad idea to do this, or that and I love the
some, because I listen to it a law in two thousand and seventeen and am reminds me of my assistants map virtually tirelessly burn me who the opposite of the bedroom boys. Really they are. This sensible bit of our team bought some yet reminds me of them They met a rainy day? Jason went on monday, stick in the wheel, bedlam lubin, hamid. Tell me
what about your mom, you ve described to your mom laura and her sister Betty as wild when they young, whether they were wild. Yes, they had parties, they would decorate the whole house, the garden they'd put to jam jaws with colored seafood paper inside and candles, and then they would hang those in the trees they roll up. The carpet get the record player serviced. We and in a taxi, because we never went in taxes, but we went in a taxi too. I think it was too whiteness. Actually I'm not the record player serviced well don't until you did the shops, especially here, and there were lots of drink. I mean lots and lots of drink and eyes that right at the top of the house, the circus- I was pose not to be able to hear the party, but the party spread all the way up the stairs and the house was full of fabulous dancing men and how would you mom met your dad's? Take us back a little bit well, my mother,
It was at the royal college of art, as a textile designer, and my father had come from zanzibar to do a course set to university college, and I guess it was some wild party. That's where they met and he's are a teacher, but he wanted to be a drama and of course I would say now, then he should have been at rama. He graduated and and then went back to zanzibar, but your mama was his deceit he sent for her. Yes, is this an incredible phrase? I think it must be afraid of the nineteen fifties. So yes, he sent for her and she got on a boat and sailed. through the suez canal because it was closed around the horn of africa to two zanzibar. I think it took six weeks and she married in their your father, died
area in nineteen. Fifty four, when you were just form and sold, it must have been absolutely devastating for your mother. Your will it it was. It was stating she didn't stay very long after he died. He died the beginning of november. We came back on christmas eve the same year and I cried on every single playing all the way back to london. I think I I didn't really realise two years later, how devastating was, but, of course, I would ask about him and I was only four or five years- the old, and she still seemed very pained by that. But, as I can remember, thinking, love is such a long time ago. You know, but now I realize that four or five years is not very long ago and yeah. I think that kind of melancholy was with her always, and I think I kind of soaked that up in a funny sort of way
Yeah it's hard because I've, I can remember my childhood, really being funding lots of ways, but somehow there's a kind of sadness which never really quite went away. What to hear the next piece of music today tell me about your third disk. Well, this song totally reminds me of my mother. My mother still alive? She's getting on for ninety one now, but it reminds me of her and living in city. She never wanted to live anywhere else, but in the big city under the songs, just it when you're alone and life is making you lonely, you can always go down, when you ve got worse resolving noise and re to help.
Downtown just listen to the music of the traffic in the city. so much bride there you can find, You get your clock and down town. Take you back lubin a he needs to growing up as part of a very tight knit units which you, your mom laura, and your anti betty's once you back in the uk economy to home together what role did you play? I'm interested in. You know your description of yourself as a feller enough gaps and then this further description of being very aware of your doubts absence. Yes, I reckon I command, you think
Well, yes, and I think you know that they also song, if I were a boy, is kind of significant there. I think I've always tried to be my father for my mother. You know I've tried to be what I thought he could be for her. I buy her flower You know I like to treat her well in the old fashioned way. Your mother was a text. I'll designer. How big an influence do you think she was on your aesthetic sensibilities? Well, I think, for many decades I like to think had no influence whatsoever. Thank you very much for having nothing to do with this fashion stuff. But I can remember hours spent looking at clothes in shops looking at fibre, weaving whatever in museums talking about other people's clothes. My mother was very judgment
about what people look like when people are on holiday. She was very much whom I see she rang last season stress, a great influence in many ways, but it really wasn't until much money later on in my making that I understood that pattern is kind of some seek language and that I now use it to say all kinds of things which contain a figurative way really and she's detainees who outcome greece yeah every other weekend, we'd be in art, galleries or we'd, be independent department stores and how comparable with the experience Well, of course they were designed invented. At the same time, the department store museum, and there really built on the same model in that you perambulate around everything is beautifully it an you admire how lovely everything is
thing is that in museums, everything belongs to us, but we can't touch it and in department stores. Nothing belongs to us until we buy it, but you can touch everything having is hopefully affected the way I am about making about showing work and just about the taking of culture as both the time for your next piece of music. Tell me about your fourth wavy chosen. It well it's difficult with journey mitchell. I would have all the songs by joan image, lynn away, but a case of you. I am very fond of falling in love. I suppose- and I've been listening to this record for decades and decades and it's that wonderful kind of womb, gentle feeling that washes over you when you hear the sound the same thing
I live in a box. It do you told me you said: love is touching Jimmy and a case of you, ve been a humane
you are, professor of contemporary art at the university of central lancashire, and that's an institution that you ve taught at for almost thirty years, which perhaps belies the fact that your own experience of school wasn't fantastic. Why not? Well, I suppose, perhaps I wasn't so stupid, but I went through school. Just thinking I was stupid. I was in a class full of wild girls. The well behaved clever. Girls were in another cause, and I wasn't really that nor to eat. But of course, I learned things that were much more useful than you know I an industry in their own valet or whatever I had to get by how to party to roll. My skirt up above my knees how to have my brother waistband. That's right house cause havoc on the top floor of a bus, yellow, useful stuff. I mean your potential was obviously in their. Why was it missed
I don't know, I don't think my aunt potential was dismissed. I spent a lot of time in the room with an amazing aren't teacher who did really I understand the importance of art. I think she knew we were in a thought of is not very clever and try to teach us things through teaching his heart. I, my english teacher, encouraged me to right, put my poems of mine into competition. It was missed in general, botz modest, connecting some people are mixed race. Kid grown up in london in the Sixtys in a white. Were you aware of europe city he at school. Another point you're very aware: yeah, not because horrible things particularly happened to me, but it was the sixties. And so you know there were uprisings. There were killings, there were political things happening in the states. I guess
was a kind of moment where I heard. On the news about the church in nam, Birmingham alabama being blown up and children being killed and eight struck home. You know I really understood the kind of not so much in britain a time right, but the danger of being back, but it's cool. I used charm to get by. You mentioned that being aware of that kind of sense of danger, albeit at me somewhere over there. What what affected that have a new that that sense, I think I'll just had an early sense foot was not right with the world. And that somehow I had to get my act together and try to do something about it and that's kind of never left me, I guess being in britain. It wasn't easy, but
Personally, I didn't live a difficult life. I didn't get called names very much. I didn't get beaten up. I managed my thing with the help of my friends really to avoid real danger. Myself were going to his more music. Now it's your fifth desk. Why have you chosen it? Well, cater is just a brilliant, brilliant young musician and there's something about her voice about the way she sings and especially the song, has that kind of sense of danger. I can kind of feel the chill of what it's like to be the one person, mainly in the wrong place at the wrong time please you. loans.
Look in the food solved Yes, the cairo cater and nine pin bene he may do you graduate it would be a in theatre, design and nineteen. Seventy six. How did you see your future batman? Well, actually, as a disaster ready, I didn't get very good degree and I think my due to thought I was pretty hope. Is so. I didn't really know what I was gonna. Do I work for wine infringe theatre, putting scenery together, checking in the back of the van destroying the set making into another set. I did
for while, at the same time as waitresses in and then I began to kind of design, restaurant interiors, and I think I thought that it was. of vague and a chasm was kind of opening up? I clearly didn't fit into the theatre, not the theatre in britain, I haven't really done my homework in terms of making connections in the right places really and was on already part of your life. Oh completely, I mean it was never stopped being part of my life. You know all the way through school all the way through our school. I knew that I would be some kind of artist or designer, but I couldn't work out how to
Make that work in nineteen eighty two, you attended the first national black artists convention, and that was the beginning of you, organizing exhibitions of black artists' work, including some of your own. I mean a quote from you that just floored me tell me if this is right in the eighties, I had to argue that there was such a thing as a black artist. You absolutely lay, but we were talking about a time when you didn't see many black people anywhere. We were here. I we were on the street in your office in your hospital everywhere, but we were not on the television we were not in the newspapers, accept something you know drastic and then as happened, and so I guess the notion of black people being artists was legally alien,
to people in the british out. Well, people actually said to me: black people don't make art, and I know what I'm making art I know other people making on now. That sounds ridiculous, but its subsidy. So, given that, how did it feel when you got your first show well frightening, of course, unfortunately, because I think I have a kind of a case of a big ego and low selfish you see my work on the walls. I just it was full of doubt about whether it was doing what I was wanting to do, and I think that still happens to me now classic art tell us about your next piece of music. Oh well! Yes, this is the kind of more old romantic me the sum so much about time the happiness and sound.
This of falling in love late in life. That kind of chance- that you have knowing that you haven't, got that many years left to be with these person and lit? though years have gone by, and maybe everything took too long. This whole opera resin cavalier absolutely sums up the kind of sweet sadness of understanding love later
from richard strength dare rose cavalier. That was esteemed term some by renee fleming and die the downright performed by the munich philharmonic conducted by christine telamon. They bade him aid. Ninety ninety seven, he went back to his answer, but for the first time and you inspired to go by your late partner mood salter, how did she persuaded because you hadn't gone, but it thought about it and decided not to for quite a long time. I think she persuade me to do it like she persuaded me to do most. Things actually should just say we're going. You ve You know face the fear and do it anyway, so I did, as I was told you, I've been afraid to go because you know in by the time I was ten,
can pretty bloody revolution there? A lot of my relatives had left zanzibar, and then I never learn swahili and found that I was kind of a ship aimed and embarrassed about that. and then I never had very much money so on and on and on went the kind of excuses really, but really, I was just afraid of the place united left, obviously in a sort of state of former. Even it wasn't me that the strong ties- and I just couldn't really face had spent, isn't he is making paintings that were crying to understand the place? I read about the place, I think photographs of the place I've been to other places that were very a kind of dangerous and mysterious, in a way that I imagine zanzibar was
and then, when I arrived, I got off the planet. Foods is just like being a manchester united, I mean it's so familiar and I so understand who I am being here. It just felt right everything about it felt right. A more impacted, the heavenly well, I think I relaxed. I think I I relaxed completely and ever since people from Zanzibar come up to me, I'm a woman came up to me not long after I won the turn a prize in the tube in london and the young woman came up to me and she said there are usually need. So I said yes and she said Nothing is where you Leon. I said. Oh I'm sorry, I don't speaks where he lay in the donor, doesnt matter it doesn't matter. I just want to say on behalf of all the zanzibar people all over the world. We watched you on cnn winning the turnips wise and were all very proud, and I just you know that was one of the most,
many things, anyone these ever said to me because I didn't really feel help weakening and music. Yet many many of those people feel like April going there really helped weakening small music now wavy this one. Well again, I could have every song nina Simone. I love this political songs, but when she leonard cohen, suzanne, we're talking about someone on the edge of the edge of talking about someone on the. Talking to someone on the edge of being here not being here
you can give you a chance, have immense. Why you wanna be me away me is the way from china with Simone changed season, aspiring black artists since he started contemporary art at the university of central lancashire for nearly thirty years. Have things changed for aspiring black artists since he started there I've done all that much to change
agitated through art and its useful in all kinds of different ways, but I think what's happened in Britain as a whole. I think there are some really exciting and interesting young artists who are doing the essential thing of talking to each other, robin thinking of themselves as but I think what's happened in Britain as a whole. I think there are some really exciting, interesting young artists doing the essential thing of talking to each other, rather than thinking of themselves as an isolated genius, and I do think
our newspapers, museums, but the important thing is that we need to keep building on. These changes are not think are well. It's ok. Now, in every kind of walk of life, we just have to keep vigilant and just make sure that everything is as far as it can be. That's all I'm really interested in let and just make sure that everything is as fair as it can be. That's all I'm really interested in. Let it just be fair. We ve got one more disk into here today. This is your eighth tell me about it wisely chosen this one well a long time ago. I used to go to a restaurant on Sunday evenings with a used to it was a pool he's restaurant and when we were in there eating extraordinary food since way back in the day in the late one and seventy
These amazing portuguese singers would be performing in the restaurant and then I came across married sir, and her amazing song tuba, which is about the rain and of course I live in preston, presses the ranges city in Britain, but there are artists there that all the artist sustained me, and this song just reminds me of them reminds me that the important things are kind of in the everyday. You know in that rain. None, so so fiscal ass. A governess
no visa and tunisia libya, he needs I'm about to cast you away than to our desert island. How How might life that inspire your art? Will I be pretty spirits- I that inspire your aunt. Well, I be pretty desperate I think I have to make. I can the sand a some, so get some charcoal make myself somehow with that I can being things bit so might be the kind of make myself a shelter, but I've never being as in my whole life. So this is the worst place if shakespeare to on the fly they, now, as you know, I'll give you, the bible and the complete works of shakespeare to read while you're there. You can also take another book of your choosing. What will it be? Well, it's really. One of
I think one of the most amazing books ever it's a book by march, piercing called woman on the edge of time it book again about madness and about how the world could be. I think it would give me a lot to think about what about a luxury apply of self ironing, japanese shirts by yak america. Ok, because, when I'm rescued, which I hope will be after about ten minutes I need to look my best they're yours painted, finally, which one of these eight fabulous tracks. Would you rush to save? I think I would have to choose suzanne binding, assume new beta. He made. Thank you so much for sharing your does island discs with us. Thank you very much.
The sooner the better he made. Thank you so much for sharing your does island discs with us. Thank you very much. I hope you enjoy my conversation with you Many other wonderful artists have been banished to their own desert island over the wonderful artists have been banished to their own desert islands over the years damien radio in twenty
barry, cornelia, parker and polar rico in twenty fourteen fellow ten applies when at the film makers, Steve mcqueen was interviewed by kirsty young. I said in my introduction that that you weren't there was a time at school. Before you know the drawing was really recognised as being something that you could go on and pursue when you were pretty much written off. You were put in this class where you know you can do manual. Labor is there? Is that true which was so people who are still living in very bright, and then there was a three x about that. These would people going doctoring cambridge, but no one that was three. Why, which is kind of self explanatory would be lived on people who they didn't think a very bad at all? that was a three. Why, which is kind of self explanatory would be lived on? People who didn't think very bright at all, and I was in three c two may lay back I've situation
and that was it. That was my future tied up when I was thirteen years old and of where you are you, dyslexic, yeah, yeah, iv'e, dyslexic le sentiment very dyslexic, I dunno what I could read while you can be mildly. Disliked where I am aware of, and I've sort of compensating the way of how to do things to do in a deal with it, and sometimes it is a ban and often you know. Do that, and sometimes it is a ban and often oftentimes is its isabella as well help what was going through your head. Can you remember when you were in that class and you were pretty much being told Y know menu, we'll help what was going through your head. Can you remember when you were in that class and you were pretty much being told Y know manual labor the thing that's a decent waited to live your life, and I think I don't know I don't know they are demanding come out without they would never do that, of course, of oblivion and myself, and when I wanted to do
It's one of those things where you just have to it as a feeling and art was one of the things art was my salvation. My foundation course in jessica lovato. The first time I could breathe ideas am stupid ideas, daydreaming falling asleep, not going in. Sometimes you know finding a book most. What you got was that wow possibility wonderful friend of mine, indica. life drinks classic every night. Emily was justice robot and I I'm like to focus on going. Freedom, have you kept any of those pieces from like that in it was discovery. Freedom have you kept any of those pieces from like the life classes, and so until the I do think the marvelous steve mcqueen, and many others are available to listen to on BBC steve mcqueen on the desert discs
This reveals to listen to on BBC sounds and on the data on the disks website. Next time my guest will be at the social scientist. Professor monica wins, do join us I'm signed a monday heist of don't tell me the school depot cost that uses sport to explore life's bigger questions covering topic site resilience to the lesson and fear with people like this. We keep during my fear into me. I always want to bring him back to. Are you actually endanger? That's alex huddled star of the oscar winning film free solo, in which he climbed a three thousand foot. She cliff with
and it certainly feels like you're gonna die, but at least we are not going to die and that's all practice to ever listened to. Don't tell me to school full of useful everyday tips from incredible people on BBC that, and it certainly feels like you're going to die, but realistically you're not going to die and that's all practice to have a listen to don't tell me this school full of useful everyday tips from incredible people on BBC sounds
Transcript generated on 2022-06-09.