Between the Two



Between the Two my Heart is Balanced

by Lubaina Himid

View an image of the artwork

A pair of women perch in a small, precarious boat, one looking over the water nervously, the other turned towards her. Their relationship is unclear; they may be family, close friends, or strangers. Whatever the association, the curious ambiguity communicated by their body language draws us closer. Leaning forward, we may be struck by the flatness of the bright colours and the force of the artist’s brushstrokes, which seem as if they could tip the vessel as water laps against its sides.

An ambiguous form cuts the canvas in two, composed from blocks of colours, imposing a division between the women. Given the lack of detail, it is difficult to discern whether this heap of stripes is an abstract structure or an actual object. By rising just above the level of the sea’s horizon, it emphasises not only the space between the two passengers, but also the distance from land. As Lubaina Himid positions us opposite them, we are left to speculate about their point of departure and their intended destination.

Words by Katherine Fieldgate

Paint sits thickly on a canvas. Two women sit in a boat, the ocean as their backdrop. The woman on our right is clothed in red, her dress a flat plane of colour. The other wears a patterned garment in black and white, the lines dashed on so casually that a couple encroach onto her neck. Between the women stands a tower of book-like items, creating a sense of symmetry within the work, acting as a vertical axis against the buoyant waves and the off-kilter perspective.

One of the women plays with what look like bright, blue marbles, easily mistaken for buttons on her dress. Her companion tosses a handful of the same objects into the water, reaching up with her other hand as if drawing them from the multi-coloured mound beside her. This is a painting of juxtapositions: a balanced frontal façade with a shallow, tilted viewpoint; vivid colour with mellowed hues; strong patterns with more even areas. All the while, the two seafarers remain both united and separated by the pile between them.

Words by Sophia Martin-Pavlou

More to discover

Read more about the artwork on the Tate website, and more about Lubaina Himid on the Contemporary Art Society and Making Histories Visible sites. Watch a talk by the artist, entitled 'What are monuments for?', here.

Question of the day

Should art aim to bring people together?
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That is one of my aims, but I don't think that has to be the aim. Art is an outlet, a manoeuvring through one's own inner experience.

– Deradoorian, musician (via The Brief →)

For me, art it is about creating pieces that allow people to experience a particular flash in time as a collective. These fleeting moments of bringing people together feel important.

– Alex Ketley, choreographer and director of The Foundry (via The Brief →)

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