In honour of Black History Month, we’re featuring some of the Black artists whose work is in the Paintings in Hospitals collection. Sonia Boyce, a leading figure in the British Black Arts Movement in the 1980s, was recently chosen to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale in 2022. She will be the first Black woman to do so. Her piece 'So Amazing' has been in our collection since 2013. 

Sonia Boyce OBE RA (b. 1962) is a British Afro-Caribbean artist who lives and works in London, UK.

Boyce was a leading figure in the British Black Arts Movement of the 1980s and explores her position as a Black woman in Britain, as well the themes of religion, politics and sexual politics through large chalk-and-pastel drawings and prints which often include bright colours. Her work involves a variety of media, such as drawing, print, photography, video, and sound, and explores "the relationship between sound and memory, the dynamics of space, and incorporating the spectator."

She studied at Stourbridge College, West Midlands, and first came to prominence with a series of bold pastel drawings about her life growing up in east London. She is now a Professor of Black Art and Design at University of the Arts London and is represented in the permanent collections of Arts Council England and Tate Modern, London. Her research interests explore art as a social practice and the critical and contextual debates that arise from this area of study.

Boyce was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2007 and an OBE in the New Years Honours in 2019, both for services to art. 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.

In this bold print, the words ‘so amazing’ are surrounded by rainbow colours. It was commissioned as a print for 'Make it Happen in Art’ 2001-2002 by the Hayward Gallery/Department of Health programme for young people in social care. It has been on loan to Paintings in Hospitals from the Arts Council Collection since 2013.

Sonia Boyce, So Amazing, 2001-2002. On loan to the Paintings in Hospitals collection from the Arts Council Collection.

'So Amazing' is taken from the title of this Luther Vandross song. Listen to it here while you look at the painting. How does hearing the music change your experience of seeing the painting?