Turner Prize-winning artist Lubaina Himid says she was told “black people don’t make art” before her career success.
Himid won the Turner Prize in 2017 for work addressing racial politics and the legacy of slavery.
The 65-year-old became the first black woman to win the award, as well as its oldest recipient.
She has said these firsts were “bittersweet” but gave people hope that UK art was becoming more diverse.
Speaking to Lauren Laverne on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, the Preston-based artist, born in Zanzibar, said: “We were not on the television, we were not in the newspapers, unless something drastic and dangerous happened.
“I guess the notion of black people being artists was completely alien to people in the British art world.
“Someone actually said to me ‘black people don’t make art’.”
In 2017 Himid said she was “thrilled” to win but has since said the accolade was “bittersweet”.
“There are many black women that have been up for it in the recent history of the prize.
“I was happy to win it, but it was bittersweet.
“What people have said to me is that it gave people hope that things were changing.”
Himid hopes these changes can be built upon in order to make the art world, and the rest of society, a fairer place.
She added: “The important thing is that we need to keep building on these changes.
“We have to keep vigilant, and just make sure everything is fair.”
Himid was made an MBE in 2010 for services to black women’s art.
The full interview can be heard on BBC Sounds and BBC Radio 4, on Sunday at 11:15.
First published 02.05.19: