Art Collections and Lubaina Himid’s Found Cities, Lost Objects: Women in the City
The topic of art collections came up recently whilst discussing favourite projects from 2022 with my colleagues. I was thinking of The Show Windows Reflections project we worked on in Coventry. It was amazing to work with three local groups to choose works from three national art collections and curate an exhibition of artworks in the windows of shops in City Arcade in the City Centre, for all to enjoy on their everyday journey. Our final Reflections exhibition explored the theme Amazing Women by asking what it means to be a woman in society today, how women feel about themselves and how they are seen by others. In selecting works from the Crafts Council Collection, the group were drawn to diverse works offering warmth and protection. This was reflective of the safe and nurturing space Coffee Tots (their creative meeting space) offers women in the city built on acceptance and trust. The group connected with these objects, added an alternative interpretation and hoped that people saw a little bit of themselves in them too.
So when thinking ahead to 2023, one intention for me is to explore more art collections and visit more exhibitions and hearing of Lubaina Himid’s curation of the Arts Council Collection Found Cities, Lost Objects: Women in the City I was reminded of Reflections and keen to see the works Himid had chosen.
Lubaina Himid is described as an artist and cultural activist by The Tate when discussing her large scale Exhibition at The Tate Modern, 2021-22. I first learnt about Himid when I was at Uni whilst studying the British Black Arts Movement of the 1980’s which Himid was part of. She curated three seminal exhibitions in London including Five Black Women marking the arrival on the British art scene of a radical generation of young Black and Asian women artists. Himid trained in theatre design but is best known for her large figurative works often of overlooked and invisible aspects of history and of contemporary everyday life. In 2017 she was awarded the Turner Prize and in 2018 she was bestowed with the honorary title of CBE for her contributions to the arts.
For the curation of the Arts Council Collection Found Cities, Lost Objects: Women in the City, Himid has chosen works from the collection that explore modern city life from a female perspective, through a woman’s eyes, addressing themes such as safety and navigation, belonging and power. The works address these themes, questioning our understanding of the urban environment and encouraging a rediscovery and reclaiming of our cities.
I’m particularly keen to see Mona Hatoum’s video Measures of Distance, 1988 which show’s images of Hatoum’s mother in the shower layered with Arabic text from letters sent to Hatoum from her mother at a time when they were separated. I am interested in the relationship between mother and daughter but also how the themes of displacement and loss are still so relevant today for anyone whose loved ones are separated by war or unrest.
I’m also interested to see Hannah Starkey’s Mirror- Untitled, 1995, Starkey has described her work as ‘explorations of everyday experiences and observations of inner city life from a female perspective’ so I’m interested to see this street photograph where she captures herself and two other women and how the image is distorted by the mirror’s multiple plans.
I’m also excited to see Helen Cammock’s There’s a Hole in the Sky Part 1 and actually all the works Himid has chosen from the collection. Found Cities, Lost Objects: Women in the City started in Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery but hits Southampton City Art Gallery on 3rd Feb- 6th May 2023 and i can’t wait to go.