Region: Lancashire, North West
Lubaina Himid’s work investigates and looks at historical representations of the people of African diaspora and highlights the importance of their cultural contribution to the contemporary landscape. Himid was one of the pioneers of the Black Art movement in the 1980’s. It offered a forum for black artists who were exploring the social and political issues surrounding black history and identity. She has participated at an international level in exhibitions, publications and conferences. Though she is known as a painter, recently her work has engaged with museum collections where she has creatively interrogated the history and representation of the African diaspora and looked at the role of museums in discussion around cultural histories. She celebrates black creativity as well as recapturing black images once appropriated by European artists.
Jelly Mould Pavilions (2009-10) is a playful yet thought provoking work that explores the challenges of commemorating the ongoing contribution of the people of the African diaspora to the history, culture and fabric of Liverpool. The work features beautifully hand-painted Victorian ceramic jelly moulds and prints. The portraits on the jelly moulds are inspired by influential Black figures such as Martin Luther King, William Still and Dred Scott, all strong and unique figures in the civil rights movement.
Lubaina’s inspiration also comes from brightly coloured textile patterns from all over the African continent. Although these jelly mould monuments are fantastical and may never be built, their purpose is to encourage visitors to ask questions about the city’s history. How we can celebrate and commemorate the Black community or whether we do this already? Lubaina chose Victorian jelly moulds as they represent the sugar trade and slave history, encouraging visitors to consider how the Black community that contributed to Northern cities such as Liverpool can be celebrated and commemorated. The jelly moulds are a device to encourage visitors to talk about enslavement, commerce and the pleasure of dialogue.
A productive artist since the early 1980’s, Himid has had solo shows at Tate St Ives, Transmission (Glasgow), Peg Alston (New York) and St Jorgens Museum (Bergen) and she represented Britain at the 5th Havana Biennale. Her work can be seen in several public collections including the Tate collection the Victoria & Albert Museum, Arts Council England and Leeds Art Gallery. She currently is Professor of Contemporary Art at the University of Central Lancashire.