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Lubaina Himid and the Historically Forgotten

06.03.2018 |

Exhibition view Lubaina Himid, Meticulous Observations and Naming the Money, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, 2018, © Photo: Gareth Jones

British artist Lubaina Himid, the first black woman to have won the prestigious Turner Prize, in 2017, engages in a rereading of history with her project Meticulous Observations and Naming the Money at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool. Entering into a conversation with the museum’s collections, her work reveals the processes of erasure at work in the construction of major memorial narratives.

Lubaina Himid and the Historically Forgotten - AWARE Artistes femmes / women artists

Exhibition view Lubaina Himid, Meticulous Observations and Naming the Money, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, 2018, © Photo: Gareth Jones

Lubaina Himid and the Historically Forgotten - AWARE Artistes femmes / women artists

Exhibition view Lubaina Himid, Meticulous Observations and Naming the Money, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, 2018, © Photo: Gareth Jones

The series Naming the Money, created in 2004 for an exhibition in Newcastle, is made up of 100 unique silhouettes, in hewn wood, representing life-sized servants and black slaves of both genders. Accompanied by plaques indicating their name and fate, they restore a body and voice to these people that history has rendered invisible. In 2013, the artist made a donation to the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool, whose mission includes promoting an understanding of the role of the slave trade in generating the city’s wealth. At the Walker Art Gallery, whose collections feature among the most significant in Great Britain, 20 silhouettes are dispersed around the rooms of the museum and placed in such a way as to interact physically with the traditional works of the permanent collections on display. Their insertion within the heart of an emblematic European heritage institution thus seeks to bear witness to the exploitation of thousands of black men and women throughout history.

Lubaina Himid and the Historically Forgotten - AWARE Artistes femmes / women artists

Exhibition view Lubaina Himid, Meticulous Observations and Naming the Money, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, 2018, © Photo: Gareth Jones

Lubaina Himid and the Historically Forgotten - AWARE Artistes femmes / women artists

Exhibition view Lubaina Himid, Meticulous Observations and Naming the Money, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, 2018, © Photo: Gareth Jones

The problematic of revelation is used again in Meticulous Observations, which brings together fifteen watercolour drawings by Himid and ten works by women artists that she has selected. The exhibition, to which a room of the museum is dedicated, takes two pieces from the collections of the Walker Art Gallery as its starting point: a sculpture of the famous American poet Henry Longfellow, created by African-American artist Edmonia Lewis in 1872, and a porcelain bowl, dating from 1783, on which is painted a slave ship arriving in Liverpool, along with African slaves, subjects that are habitually absent from these kinds of representations. A parallel is drawn between the eclipsing of black people throughout history and that of women. The drawings entitled Scenes from the Life of Toussaint Louverture (1987) imagine the roles that women were able to play in the career of Toussaint Louverture, a major figure of the Haitian Revolution, while the productions of some of the artists selected by Himid, such as Prunelle Clough or Avis Newman, evoke themes relating to concealment. These questions were present from the late 1970s onwards in the curatorial initiatives undertaken by Himid. These initiatives focused on the lack of visibility that black artists face in Great Britain. The most emblematic of these events, The Thin Black Line, took place at the London Institute of Contemporary Art in 1985 and already presented the work of artists Claudette Johnson and Veronica Ryan, who are also presented in this new selection now showing at the Walker Art Gallery until 18 March 2018.

 

Lubaina Himid, Meticulous Observations and Naming the Money, from 7 October 2017 to 18 March 2018, at the Walker Art Gallery (Liverpool, United Kingdom).

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How to cite this article:
Adiva Lawrence, "Lubaina Himid and the Historically Forgotten." In Archives of Women Artists, Research and Exhibitions magazine, . URL : https://awarewomenartists.com/en/magazine/lubaina-himid-oublies-de-lhistoire/. Accessed 3 April 2020
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