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Sonia Boyce

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Name  Sonia Boyce
Role  Artist
Education  Stourbridge College

Sonia Boyce NPG x88732 Sonia Boyce Portrait National Portrait Gallery
Artwork  Missionary Position II
Similar People  Keith Piper, Eddie Chambers, Lubaina Himid, Ian Baucom, Frank Bowling

Collapsing the boundaries between art sound and collaboration professor sonia boyce

Sonia Dawn Boyce, MBE RA (born 1962), is a British Afro-Caribbean artist, living and working in London. She is a professor at Middlesex University and Professor of Black Art and Design at University of the Arts London. Boyce's research interests explore art as a social practice and the critical and contextual debates that arise from this area of study. With an emphasis on collaborative work, Boyce has been working closely with other artists since 1990, often involving improvisation and spontaneous performative actions on the part of her collaborators. Boyce's work involves a variety of media, such as drawing, print, photography, video, and sound. Her art explores the interstices between sound and memory, the dynamics of space, and incorporating the spectator. To date, Boyce has taught Fine Art studio practice for over thirty years in several art colleges across the UK.


Sonia Boyce Sonia Boyce in Maskarade show in Germany AFRICANAHORG

Barby asante sonia boyce mixing it up


Sonia Boyce httpswwwmdxacukdataassetsimage0029850

Born in London, Sonia Boyce studied at Stourbridge College in the West Midlands. She works with a range of media including photography, installation and text. She gained prominence as part of the Black British cultural renaissance of the 1980s. Her work also references feminism. Ron Exley (2001) has written: "The effect of her work has been to re-orientate and re-negotiate the position of Black or Afro-Caribbean art within the cultural mainstream."

Sonia Boyce Sonia Boyce born 1962 Tate

An early exhibition in which she participated was in 1983 at the Africa Centre, London, entitled Five Black Women. Boyce's early works were large chalk-and-pastel drawings depicting friends, family and childhood experiences. Drawing from her background she often included depictions of wallpaper patterns and bright colours associated with the Caribbean. It has been suggested that through this work the artist examined her position as a black woman in Britain and the historical events in which that experience was rooted.

Sonia Boyce No Colour Bar Black British Art in Action 1960 1990 Artistic

In her later works Boyce used diverse media including digital photography to produce composite images depicting contemporary black life. Although her focus is seen to have shifted away from specific ethnic experiences, her themes continue 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 Sonia Boyce Artist and academic launches project shedding light on

She has taught widely and uses workshops as part of her creative process, and her works can be seen in many national collections. Boyce's works are held in the collections of Tate Modern, Victoria & Albert Museum, the Government Art Collection, British Council and the Arts Council Collection at Southbank Centre.

Sonia Boyce No Colour Bar Black British Art in Action 1960 1990 Artistic

Sonia Boyce was awarded an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List 2007, for services to art. In 2016, Sonia Boyce was elected as a member of the Royal Academy.


Sonia Boyce Sonia Boyce Artimage

In her early artistic years Boyce used chalk and pastel to make drawings of her friends, family and herself. She graduated later to incorporate photography, graphic design, film, and caricature to convey very political messages within her work. The incorporation of collage allowed her to explore more complex pieces. It is important to note Boyce's utilization of caricature within her work. The caricature is historically meant to showcase exaggerated features of individuals. They are often grotesque and can incite negative perceptions of their subjects. By using caricatures she allows herself to reclaim them in her own image.


Boyce's work is vastly politically affiliated. She utilizes a variety of mediums within the same work to convey messages revolving around black representation, perceptions of the black body and pervasive notions that arose from colonial pseudoscience. Within her bodies of work Boyce wishes to convey the personal isolation that results from being black in a white supremacist society. In her work she explores notions of the Black Body as the "other". Commonly, she uses collage to convey a body of art that incites a complicated history. Boyce rose as a prominent artist in the 1980s when the Black Cultural Renaissance took place in the United Kingdom. The movement arose out of Margaret Thatcher's conservatism and also Enoch Powell's racism. Using this societal backdrop, Boyce takes conventional English narrative surrounding the black body and turns it upside down. Through her art she conveys a hope to overturn ethnographic notions of race that pervaded throughout slavery and after the slaves had been emancipated.


  • Century City: art and culture in the modern metropolis, Tate Modern, London (2001)
  • Recent Sonia Boyce: la, la, la, Reed College, Portland, Oregon (2001)
  • Sharjah International Bienal 7, Sharjah (2005)
  • Devotional, National Portrait Gallery, London (2007)
  • For you, only you (ed. Paul Bonaventura, Ruskin School of Drawing & Fine Art, Oxford University, and tour, 2007/2008)
  • Crop Over, Harewood House, Leeds, and Barbados Museum & Historical Society (2007/2008)
  • Like Love – Part One, Spike Island, Bristol, and tour (2009–2010); "Part 2 and Part 3" (2009–2010)
  • Praxis: Art in Times of Uncertainty, Thessaloniki Biennal 2, Greece (2009)
  • Afro Modern: Journeys through the Black Atlantic, Tate Liverpool and tour (2010)
  • Black Sound White Cube, Kunstquartier Bethanien, Berlin (2011)
  • 8+8 Contemporary International Video Art, 53 Museum, Quangzhou (2011)
  • The Impossible Community, Moscow Museum of Modern Art (2011)
  • Migrations: Journeys into British Art, Tate Britain (2012)
  • There is no archive in which nothing gets lost, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (2012)
  • Keywords, Rivington Place, London (2013)
  • No Colour Bar: Black British Art in Action 1960–1990, Guildhall Art Gallery, London (2015–16)
  • All the World’s Futures, 56th Venice Biennale of Contemporary Art, Venice (2015)
  • Paper Tiger Whisky Soap Theatre (Dada Nice), Villa Arson, Nice (2016)
  • Research positions

  • 1996–2002, as a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the University of East London
  • Director of AAVAA (the African and Asian Visual Artists Archive), managing a Research Centre on the work of contemporary artists of African and Asian descent working in the UK.
  • 2004–05 NESTA (National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) Artist Fellow, researching the social dynamics of collaboration in art.
  • 2008–11 AHRC Research Fellowship on the ephemeral nature of collaborative practice in art at the Centre for Drawing, Wimbledon College of Art and Design, University of the Arts London, with a concluding project The Future is Social.
  • 2015–18, as Principal Investigator for the Black Artists and Modernism (BAM), a three-year research programme that investigates the artworks of Black-British artists and the works' relationship to modernism.
  • Publications

  • Gilane Tawadros, Sonia Boyce: Speaking in Tongues, Kala Press, 1997.
  • Annotations 2/Sonia Boyce: Performance (ed. Mark Crinson, Iniva – the Institute of International Visual Arts, 1998)
  • In 2007, Boyce, David A. Bailey and Ian Baucom jointly received the History of British Art Book Prize (USA) for the edited volume Shades of Black: Assembling Black Art in 1980s Britain, published by Duke University Press in collaboration with Iniva and AAVAA.
  • Allison Thompson, "Sonia Boyce and Crop Over", Small Axe, Volume 13, Number 2, 2009.
  • Like Love, Spike Island, Bristol and tour (ed. Axel Lapp, Green Box Press, Berlin, 2010)
  • References

    Sonia Boyce Wikipedia