Black British Art – 001 – Sonia Boyce OBE

This has been a long time coming. I first mentioned this series here.

{Sonia Boyce, She Aint Holding Them Up, She’s Holding On (Some English Rose) (1986), Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art
Photograph: © Sonia Boyce. All rights reserved. DACS 2013}

Sonia Boyce, OBE, born 1962 in London of Afro-Caribbean descent has been vocal in championing Black British Art since art college. She has been at the forefront of changing the perceptions of British art, shifting the focus and belief away from whiteness towards multiculturalism being one of the first Black British women artists to be exhibited in Britain.

Frequently, using her art, be that photography, collage, film, prints, drawings, installations and sound, to explore themes of race and gender, Sonia Boyce takes the time and space to represent her experiences of being a black woman living and working in Britain.

Elected to the Royal Academy in 2016, in 1988, she became the first British-based black artist to have a show at the Whitechapel Gallery. She is currently a Professor of Black Art and Design at University of the Arts London.

I’m attracted to Boyce’s work because I can see myself within it. Far too often, I look at British art and see beauty personified in white flesh, female and slim. It’s demoralising as well as destructive to my psyche to not see myself reflected. With Boyce’s work, I see my struggles as well as my beauty and joys. I can relate and for this I am grateful as well as admire Sonia Boyce greatly.

Artist on Hiatus : Update 

So things have started with my self-imposed residency of being an artist on hiatus. The aim is not to engage in anything creative. To try and not feed my artistic tendencies but to focus all my attentions on my paid work and not my creative work.I am finding this residency difficult as I realise I need colour in my life daily in order to live. In order to get out of bed and feel alive, I need colour within my life. It is my buzz. So deciding to wear a different coloured nail varnish each week to work is I think exercising my creative gene ever so slightly.

This colour fix is also evident within my work planner. So that every day is not a dull day, I pre-prepared each page within my planner with paint, with colour and inspirating images. I did this so that even if I am locked into the system, working 9 til 5, I can still dream, I can still scratch my creative itch.

All this sounds as if I’m not trying in this hiatus residency. But really I am. But at the same time, I am finding out more and more about what makes me tick, what makes me happy, what makes me, me. And I’m okay with that, with this residency. I am taking each day as it comes, and I know I am happy in what I am doing each day. So I am going to continue as I am doing.

I have even inspired others to re-engage with their creativity, with their dreams, through just showing up to meeting using my self-created planner. This colour focus is catching.