14 facts about Sonia Boyce

By Gwylym Owen

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Sonia Dawn Boyce, OBE RA (born 1962), is a British Afro-Caribbean artist, living and operating in London. She is a Professor of Black Art and Design at University of the Arts London. Boyce’s research interests consider art as a social practice and the valuable and contextual debates that arise from this place of study. With an emphasis on collaborative work, Boyce has been working closely with other artists before 1990, often involving improvisation and spontaneous performative actions upon the part of her collaborators. Boyce’s Conduct Yourself involves a variety of media, such as drawing, print, photography, video, and sound. Her art explores “the link between the unquestionable and memory, the dynamics of space, and incorporating the spectator”. Boyce has taught Fine Art studio practice for beyond thirty years in several art colleges across the UK.

In February 2020 Boyce was selected by the British Council to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale 2022. She will be the first black woman to do so.

Sonia Boyce OBE RA became a key figure in the emerging black art movement of the time in the early 1980s for her figurative pastel paintings and photo collages that dealt with issues of race and gender.

In 1987, she became one of the youngest artists of her generation to be acquired by the Tate, and the first black British artist to be included in the collection. After graduating from Stourbridge School of Art in 1983, she became a key figure in the British black art movement of the 1980s. In the 1980s, as the black cultural renaissance took place, Boyce became a prominent artist.

Boyce received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the prestigious Stourbridge College in the West Midlands in 1980. Beuys was soon invited to teach practice in the visual arts studio at various art colleges in the UK.

To date, Boyce has been teaching fine art at various art colleges in the UK for over thirty years. In her Biography she states that “For the past 30 years I have been teaching practice in fine arts studios from undergraduate to postdoctoral level at many art colleges across the UK. Boyce taught extensively and uses workshops as part of his creative process, and her work can be seen in many national collections.

In 2016 Boyce became a Royal Academician, a company in England created by George III for artists and designers. She was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2019 New Year Honors for services to the arts. British Council Director of Visual Arts Emma Dexter said Boyce’s comprehensive and powerful work would be the perfect choice for this important period in UK history.

Boyce led a team to prepare an exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery dedicated to African and Asian artists who played a role in shaping British art history. In 2018, as part of Boyce’s retrospective at Manchester Art Gallery, the gallery’s curators invited her to create new works, in dialogue with the gallery’s 18th and 19th century collections, for which Boyce invited performance artists to participate in these works. work. As the artist puts it, these galleries are non-binary. We are delighted to announce that Sonia Boyce OBE RA has been selected to represent the UK at the 2021 Art Biennale for a solo exhibition of new work.

In Britain’s Hidden Art History, Brenda Emmanus follows Boyce as she travels across the UK, following the history of black artists and modernism. Good Morning Freedom was created by renowned artist Sonia Boyce as part of her 2013 solo exhibition Scat at Iniva (International School of Visual Arts, London). Boyce opened a new chapter in the history of British art for women, the Caribbean and beyond for political artists, with beautiful imagery and strong personal storytelling.

When I read that Sonia Boyce was originally influenced by the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo (1907-1954), it made a lot of sense. Boyce’s work has been exhibited here, there and everywhere, and every time black artists are discussed and mentioned in Britain. Boyce’s name is invariably mentioned, and for good reason. She works with a wide range of media including photography, installation and text.

Hanna Oliri, head of contemporary African art at Sothebys London, said, “As a black artist and as a woman artist she cannot help but be a politician in this world, I often think about the privileges and rights of white male artists that allow them the luxury of looking at the navel in their work.” If you haven’t heard that navel expression before, it means useless or excessive self-contemplation.

It is important to note that Boyce uses caricatures in her work. Through her art, she conveys the hope of overthrowing the ethnographic concepts that permeated slavery after emancipation. Boyce began to question her freedom as an artist, expressing a growing desire to be understood outside of her iconic image of the first black woman… accepting Mantia Dia in 1992 In an interview with Mantia Diawara, Boyce commented: “No matter what we do, black people, they say that if you want to talk about identity, you should line up first. In her later work, Boyce used a variety of media, including digital photography, to create composite images depicting contemporary black life.

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