Le Rodeur: The Pulley
About the work
Place: Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, 100 Parliament Street
This painting reflects ideas that are personal to the artist, as well as wider social and historical themes. Himid’s works often explore the complexity of emotional relationships between women, depicting them either alone or together. In this painting, there is an unexplained but palpable tension between the two figures. They turn away from each other, yet their feet almost touch, suggesting a shared intimate connection.
Le Rodeur is a series of paintings that Himid started in 2016, each of which depict figures in a marine setting. Le Rodeur (‘The Spear’) was a 19th century French slave ship that, in April 1819, departed the Bight of Biafra for Guadeloupe. On board were 162 African slaves and a crew of 22. Many were struck by a debilitating disease that caused blindness during the journey. Deeming the slaves commercially ‘worthless’, the captain ordered that 36 were thrown overboard. In time, everyone on board became blind, except for one man, who eventually sought help from another ship. This story brings another rich layer to Himid’s painting. A pulley’s function aids the transfer of power – here its presence suggests that sudden shift of power between the European colonial crew and the African slaves, where both succumbed to the same fate, regardless of position or privilege.
About the artist
Born in Zanzibar in 1954, Lubaina Himid moved to the UK as a child, where she studied Theatre Design at Wimbledon College of Art and Cultural History at the Royal College of Art. For over 40 years, she has actively encouraged the promotion and support of the Black Arts Movement, particularly work by women. In the 1980s and ‘90s, she curated a number of important group exhibitions including ‘The Thin Black Line' (ICA, 1985) and 'Unrecorded Truths' (Elbow Room, 1986). Himid currently lives and works in Preston and is Professor of Contemporary Art at the University of Central Lancashire. She is the winner of the 2017 Turner Prize. Selected solo exhibitions include: ‘Spotlights’, Tate Britain (2019); ‘The Grab Test’, Frans Hals Museum (2019); and ‘Work from Underneath’, New Museum (2019). In 2021 Himid will present a major monographic exhibition at Tate Modern, London.
Lubaina Himid (1954 - )
- Le Rodeur: The Pulley
- Acrylic on canvas
- height: 183 cm, width: 244 cm
- Purchased from Hollybush Gardens, December 2017
- verso, bl: Lubaina Himid / 2017
- Hollybush Gardens; purchased by GAC 2017
- GAC number