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Allow Your Friends to Meet Your Enemies (2011)

Lubaina Himid

acrylic and pencil on paper, collage, magazine pages (2 parts)

Gallery Oldham

Allow Your Friends to Meet Your Enemies (2011)

© Lubaina Himid. Courtesy the artist and Hollybush Gardens. Photo credit: Andy Keate



Painting, Collage, Mixed media


Acrylic, Pencil, Paper, Magazine


28 x 33.5 cm

Accession Number:



Presented by the Contemporary Art Society, 2016/17

Ownership history:

Purchased from Hollybush Gardens by the Contemporary Art Society, 20 October, 2016; presented to Gallery Oldham, 2016
Lubaina Himid has strived to make visible the marginalised and silenced histories of Black people through her work. Wearing the cloak of a critical history painter, Himid questions and challenges tradition and dominant narrative. Her subjects are often mundane people who struggle to cope with their lives, articulated by structures of power and wealth, but can also represent important historical figures, such as Toussaint L’Ouverture or Margaret Thatcher. Her work, ranging from paintings, cut-outs and collages to installations, is mostly figurative and has a theatrical quality. It is rich in bright colours and patterns. Ultimately, Himid aims to develop a conversation with an audience, and to ascribe value to Black people’s contribution to Europe’s culture over the past several hundred years.

Allow Your Friends to Meet Your Enemies (2011) is part of Kangas from the Lost Sample Book, a series of diptychs for which Himid drew inspiration from the Whitworth Gallery’s collection of twentieth-century East African kangas, as well as from her own. The paintings echo the various patterns and motifs of the textiles, and feature invented slogans that reference Swahili sayings found on traditional kangas; in this case Allow Your Friends to Meet Your Enemies. A collaged portrait accompanies the painting, imagining the woman who might have owned the kanga. The Kangas series explore the historical relationship between the Greater Manchester textile industry and its East African wearers, and hence address the movements of cultures and commodities, including its related trauma.

As Oldham is situated in the Greater Manchester area, Allow Your Friends to Meet Your Enemies has a close connection with the Gallery’s locality. Moreover, with the acquisition of this work, Gallery Oldham aims to explore challenging issues around racial, ethnic and cultural identity and to attract new audiences.

This image may be shared and re-used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives licence (CC BY-NC-ND). Any further use will need to be cleared directly with the rights holder.

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