Bone in the China: Success to the Africa Trade (1985)

Lubaina Himid

Wooden construction, acrylic on plywood with aluminium, acrylic on canvas
122 x 244 x 270 cm

Sharjah Art Foundation Collection

‘If the memorial is a memorial to the contribution that black people make to every single aspect of Western culture, then it’s a memorial worth making. I’m sick and tired of living in a culture where that contribution is invisibilised.’ - Lubaina Himid, an educator, artist and curator and a cornerstone of the British Black Art Movement.

Himid’s art challenges institutional narratives that have systematically overlooked the legacy of slavery and the foundational contributions to society made by the African diaspora. The mixed-media work, Bone in the China: Success to the Africa Slave Trade (1985–1987) brings together core themes of Himid’s work. Its multiple components, the disc, the neo-classical off balance column and the titular bone as a base, hint at the lives taken to support the resulting edifice. Numerous small black discs, inscribed with ‘Our memories, our heroines, our contributions, our creativity’, surround the column, as if weighing down the structure. Lubaina conjures not only the depiction of counter-narratives but also the speculative repositioning of lives beyond the reaches of entrenched forms of white supremacy and its legacies today.