British artist Lubaina Himid has won the Robson Orr TenTen Award for 2021.
The Turner Prize winner will have her work displayed in diplomatic buildings across the globe.
Her print Old Boat, New Weather explores themes of forced migration and the legacies of colonialism.
Speaking at an awards announcement for the prize at 11 Downing Street, she said: “This work of 19 colours printed layer-by-layer, across a period of as many days spread across several weeks, is an attempt to hold back time and undo some tragic historical and global mistakes.
“I wanted to make a work which could have a number of readings across global histories.”
She added: “I tried to talk about how harbours and beaches are the sites of both safety and danger, and how challenging it is to discern the difference.
“A massive old wooden sailing ship, containing an oversized shack sits majestically in a harbour, holding desperately on to power.
“It tells a story of forced migrations, mass upheavals, and the very real loss of family and friends.
“I am anxiously willing it never to set sail, never to leave the harbour. Needless to say, my strategy fails.
“We cannot undo the wrongs of enslavement or the legacies of colonialism. But we can all attempt to learn from the warnings.”
The award is presented by the Government Art Collection (GAC) with the Outset Contemporary Art Fund and is sponsored by philanthropists Sybil Robson Orr and Matthew Orr.
Himid is the fourth recipient of the prize, which each year commissions a British artist to create a limited edition print to be shown in diplomatic buildings across the world.
Eleven prints will also go on sale in collaboration with the arts organisation Outset to raise funds for the GAC acquisition fund.
When asked why she chose these specific themes, Himid told the PA news agency: “Well I suppose I’m always trying to see if I can open up conversations about those things always.
“And if you’re an artist, you think ‘Well, I’m not sure I got it right last time, I’m going to try it a different way’.
“And to do it with the Government Art Collection, and the opportunity for the work to be in such important places, I didn’t want to miss that opportunity to make something that I hope was very beautiful, but that also had the sense that it was speaking more than you could see.”
She said the message she wanted to convey with the artwork was that “every little thing you do makes a difference”.
“Because none of them or none of us can actually change very much, but all of us doing a tiny bit in the way that we know how, artists can do art, that’s what makes a difference. It’s scientifically proven,” she added.
Her work, as well as previous winners of the award and works purchased through the TenTen Acquisitions Fund, are available to be viewed digitally on theVOV, the first virtual government art collection gallery.
DCMS minister of state Julia Lopez, who announced the award at Number 11, added: “It’s wonderful that this new work will form a part of the Government Art Collection where it’s going to be enjoyed by people across the world and really play into our new Secretary of State’s theme about accessibility.
“And also we’re very happy that sales from the print will be able to support the acquisition of works by new emerging British artists.”