Lubaina Himid, an artist who makes theatrical, witty and challenging works that address colonial history, racism and institutional invisibility, has won the 2017 Turner prize.
Himid is both the first woman of colour to win and, at 63, the oldest winner in the prize’s 33-year history, after it dropped its upper age limit of 50. Himid wins the £25,000 prize for work addressing racial politics and the legacy of slavery.
Himid – born in in Zanzibar, Tanzania and now based in Preston, Lancashire – said she was “thrilled” to win, and thanked a list of long-time supporters in her acceptance speech.
She is an artist who, arguably, has been overlooked and undervalued for most of her career. Himid said she was never overlooked by curators or other artists but she was never in the press, perhaps because her work “was too complicated to talk about”. She added: “I guess the issues I was dealing with were complex, many-layered, and you’ve got to sell newspapers.”
Winning the prize meant a lot to her, she said. “I won it for all the times where we put our heads above the parapet, we tried to do things, we failed, people died in the meantime … for all the black women who never did win it even though they had been shortlisted … it feels good for that reason.”