Lubaina Himid becomes oldest winner of UK’s Turner Prize

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Lubaina Himid
AFP/File / Oli SCARFF Pottery by Lubaina Himid entitled "Swallow Hard: The Lancaster Dining Service" which forms part of her submission for the Turner Prize 2017 in the Ferens Art Gallery, Kingston upon Hull, northern England

Lubaina Himid, 63, on Tuesday became the oldest winner of the Turner Prize, Britain’s most prestigious yet controversial visual art award, for her works celebrating black creativity.

Judges praised the Zanzibar-born artist for the “seriousness of themes she addressed,” paying tribute to the “current vitality of Lubaina’s work as well as the current relevance” of it in three decades past.

The winning artist said she felt “like I won it for a lot of people, so that’s why it means a lot.

“For all the black women who never did win it even though they’ve been shortlisted. It feels good for that reason.”

Musician Goldie presented the £25,000 ($32,000, 30,000 euros) award at the ceremony in Hull, northern England, to mark its year as UK City of Culture.

The jury made its decision on the back of Himid’s trio of exhibitions in Oxford, Bristol and Nottingham, which showcased her paintings, prints and installations.

Her exhibits on show include wooden figures, a cast of cut-out characters including Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan and a porcelain dinner set painted with images of black slaves.

Himid was one of two artists aged over 50 on the four-person shortlist after the age limits were lifted.

The other finalists included Hurvin Anderson, Andrea Buettner and Rosalind Nashashibi.

Named for J. M. W. Turner, the British Romanticist landscape painter, the prize has often sparked controversy.

Winners have included Damien Hirst in 1995 with pieces including a rotting cow’s head, and Chris Ofili, who incorporated elephant dung into his paintings in 1998.

Meanwhile Tracey Emin’s “My Bed”, a stained bed surrounded with detritus, drew huge attention when shortlisted in 1999.