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Venetian Maps: Birdcages

Lubaina Himid

Lubaina Himid curated three exhibitions in London in the early 1980s which marked the arrival on the British art scene of a radical generation of young Black and Asian women artists. They challenged their collective invisibility in the art world and engaged with the social, cultural, political and aesthetic issues of the time.

Having originally trained in Theatre Design at Wimbledon School of Art, Lubaina Himid is known as a painter, writer and curator and is Professor of Contemporary Art at the University of Central Lancashire.

Himid’s concern with the legacy of colonialism and the politics of mapping is shown in the Venetian Maps series, where she depicts the African presence in a city that was once one of the international centres of trade. In Birdcages, five West African birds are set in a yellow background which holds the almost invisible outlines of birdcages. These symbolic references to both freedom and its withdrawal act as a reminder of the transatlantic slave trade.