National Portrait Gallery


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Welcome To Devotional

16 June - 25 November 2007
Room 37a

Devotional represents an ongoing dialogue over the last decade between members of the general public and the artist Sonia Boyce, about collective memory and music. In 1999, Boyce developed a workshop involving a group of women brought together to sing and recall the first record they ever bought. As a closing act to the workshop Boyce asked the group to name a black British female singer. In answering this question the Devotional series was born. From the first name nominated to the most recent, a growing number of people have joined the process of adding their favoured artists to this list.

Eighteen singers are represented here with photographs from the National Portrait Gallery’s Collection. These women have entertained millions during the course of their musical careers. Like the gathering of these names, Boyce’s drawing style responds organically to these performers and the photographs on display. The elaborately hand-drawn installation took over two weeks to install and was created, using carbon paper, ink and pencil.

This special installation by the artist, pays homage to the great musical tradition created within the African Diaspora following the period of the transatlantic slave trade, and highlights the wealth of creative talent in Great Britain.

Born in 1962, Sonia Boyce is a British artist of African-Caribbean descent, living and working in London. Boyce’s earlier works include: Missionary Position 2 (1985), Tate Collection; Lovers’ Rock - wallpaper (1998), Victoria & Albert Museum Collection; Devotional (1999-2004) and Devotional II (2005), Government Art Collection.

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