Artist biography

English painter, draughtswoman and multi-media artist. She studied art at East Ham College and Stourbridge College of Art until 1983. Boyce's early works were large chalk-and-pastel drawings that show her interest in depicting friends, family and childhood experiences. In them she often included depictions of wallpaper patterns and bright colours associated with the Caribbean and experienced through her own particular background. Through them she also examined her position as a black woman in Britain and the historical events in which that experience was rooted (e.g. Lay Back, Keep Quiet and Think of What Made Britain so Great, charcoal, pastel and watercolour on paper, 4 parts, 15.25×6.50 m each, 1986; AC Eng). Making these experiences visible was her main concern in what could be seen as a form of social realism. In her later works she used such diverse media as digital photographs, laser photographs and pastel to produce composite images depicting contemporary black life (e. g. From Someone Else's Fear Fantasy (a Case of Mistaken Identity, this Is No Bed of Roses) to Metamorphosis, mixedmedia on photographic paper, 1372×914 mm, 1987; artist's col.) In them she shifted her emphasis from what could be seen as a culturally separatist approach, a truth to a specific ethnic experience to focus instead on the communicative abilities and power of the work itself. Her themes, however, continued to be the experiences of a black woman living in a white society, and how religion, politics and sexual politics made up that experience.

Sonia Boyce (exh. cat., intro P. Ntuli; London, Air Gal., 1987) [texts by Boyce]
The Impossible Self (exh. cat. by B. Ferguson, S. Nairne, S. Boyce and others, Winnipeg, A.G., 1988)
M. Corris: ‘Sonia Boyce at Vanessa Devereux Gallery', Artforum, xxx (1992), p. 124

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