Robson Orr TenTen Award 2021

A Government Art Collection/Outset Annual Commission

Every year, the Government Art Collection commissions an outstanding British artist to create a unique, limited edition print that will be shown in diplomatic buildings around the world, as part of the TenTen project.

Supported by philanthropists Sybil Robson Orr and Matthew Orr (who were inspired by an initiative by the Foundation for Arts and Preservation in Embassies), the TenTen project is their ten-year commitment to help create important new artwork for the Collection. At the same time, annual sales from eleven of the prints sold through the Outset Contemporary Art Fund raise funds that allow the Collection to acquire art by emerging artists in the UK.

This year, Lubaina Himid CBE has been awarded the Robson Orr TenTen Award 2021.

Old Boat, New Weather

Lubaina Himid, Old Boat, New Weather, 2021 © Lubaina Himid – Commissioned by the Government Art Collection for The Robson Orr TenTen Award 2021, a GAC/Outset Annual Commission

Old Boat, New Weather depicts a collaged vessel, part-ship and part-shack, in a European harbour. The image brings together motifs familiar in Himid’s practice, referencing the notion of home, architecture and women, slavery and imperial trade.

‘The whole of history is in the harbour – but we know that this story will set sail.’

On the trade ship, Himid has fixed a barn-like structure, inspired by an encounter with the dilapidated homes of freed slaves in Carolina, USA. The effect reminds us of an ark; a biblical symbol for a place of refuge. ‘Old Boat, New Weather’ is both stalling history, and preparing for a future where the climate will cause mass displacement.

The artist developed the ‘sky’ area with layers of crossing colours, based on a collage. Working closely with the printmaker Magda Stawarska-Beavan, and influenced by 1960s Polish theatre posters, Himid has mixed colours and found images to highlight the range of screen printing. Patterns are common in Lubaina Himid’s work – thanks to her mother, a textile designer, who frequently took her to see designs at the Victoria and Albert Museum when she was a child.

In 2019, Himid created the sculptural work Old Boat, New Money whilst in residence at Porthmeor Studios, St Ives, Cornwall, in a space once occupied by the artist Ben Nicholson. Old Boat, New Weather continues her narrative on the legacy of maritime travel.

Lubaina Himid

Born in Zanzibar, Tanzania in 1954, Lubaina Himid currently lives and works in Preston, UK, and is a Professor of Contemporary Art at the University of Central Lancashire. She is the winner of the 2017 Turner Prize. Himid has exhibited extensively in the UK and abroad. Selected solo exhibitions include: Spotlights, Tate Britain, London (2019); The Grab Test, Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem, The Netherlands (2019); and Work from Underneath, New Museum, New York (2019). Selected collections include Tate; Arts Council Collection; UK Government Art Collection; Museum Ludwig; and National Museums Liverpool. In 2021 Himid will present a major monographic exhibition at Tate Modern, London.

The Robson Orr TenTen Virtual Gallery

For the first time, the Award is presented digitally on The Robson Orr TenTen Virtual Gallery, available for international audiences to view online via The virtual gallery allows users to navigate works of art commissioned by the award and also purchased through the TenTen Acquisitions Fund, featuring artists including Sonia Boyce, Khadija Saye and Matthew Krishanu. The gallery is presented in partnership with theVOV – co-founded by Outset and art-science collective Visualogical – with technology provided by Vortic Art.