Screenprint on laminated paper, mounted on aluminium1999-2004
About the work
Place: Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, Whitehall
A multi-coloured list of names and dates appear totem-like in Devotional, a print by Sonia Boyce. She accumulated them over several years from conversations with different people about their favourite black female singers. These range from the jazz singer Elizabeth Welch, presented at the top of the work in the pre-1960s section, to Yazz in the 1980s and Lisa Maffia in the 'noughties'. Listing them vertically 1 to 84, Boyce creates a colourful object, offering a different perspective of popular music. The interaction with other people in producing this piece is a crucial part of the working process for Boyce, who views her works as collaborations with members of the public.
In 2005 Boyce produced Devotional II, (see GAC 18064) which was installed in the European Union Headquarters at the newly renovated Berlaymont building in Brussels. A reworking of Devotional, it extends nine metres high on an internal column, and spans a height of three floors. Totem-like, its physical presence and array of colours make it highly visible to everyone using the building.
Sonia Boyce studied art at East Ham College and Stourbridge College of Art until 1983. Since the mid 1980s she has exhibited widely in the UK and abroad, and several monographs about her work have been published in recent years. In March 2004 she was awarded the Nesta Three Year Fellowship.
About the artist
Sonia Boyce MBE is a British Afro-Caribbean artist who lives and works in London. While studying at Stourbridge College of Art from 1980-83, she met and collaborated with artists from the BLK Art Group (Keith Piper, Donald Rodney, Marlene Smith and Eddie Chambers), an informal but highly influential group who organised and promoted exhibitions and events that addressed the experience of Black communities in Britain. Boyce’s early work, primarily large pastel drawings and photographic collages, addressed issues of race and gender in the media and of daily life. In the late 1980s, Boyce incorporated a wider use of media in her work, including photography, collage, film, print, drawing, installation and sound. This shift also involved greater collaborative participation with audiences and communities, placing more emphasis on the art resulting from these collaborations. Boyce has exhibited her work extensively both in the UK and internationally. Key exhibitions include 'Five Black Women', African Centre, London (1983); 'Sonia Boyce: For you, only you', Magdalen College, Oxford and subsequent UK venues (2007–08); and at 'All the World’s Futures', 56th Venice Biennale (2015). In 2007, Boyce was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for services to the arts. She is currently Professor of Fine Arts at Middlesex University, London and Professor of Black Art and Design at University of the Arts London. Boyce will represent Great Britain at the Venice Biennale, for the 59th International Art Exhibition in 2022, the first Black British woman to have achieved this honour.
Sonia Boyce (1962 - )
- Screenprint on laminated paper, mounted on aluminium
- height: 239.70 cm, width: 60.40 cm
- Purchased from the The Agency - Contemporary Art - Ltd, December 2004
- verso cl: Devotional / 1999-2004 / Sonia Boyce / S. Boyce
- The Agency Contemporary Art, London
- GAC number