Unique to Liverpool, Like Love – Part Two includes new work by Boyce in collaboration with the Blue Room, a year round arts service for adults with learning disabilities that operates three days a week at the Bluecoat. The encounters the adults have experienced with care inspire, inform and drive the artist’s creative process. Boyce has been meeting regularly with the Blue Room over the past six months; engaging with the participants to create drawings and films around their experiences with love. In one encounter, Sonia and the Blue Room took to Crosby beach to make a film of the participants dancing to their favourite love songs.
Artistic Director at the Bluecoat, Bryan Biggs said: “It’s great to have Sonia back at the Bluecoat 25 years after her first exhibition here, Black Skin/Bluecoat. And we are delighted that our Blue Room participants have had the opportunity to work with an artist of her calibre. The end result promises to be an exciting, collaborative piece of art.”
Boyce has also been invited to curate the Bluecoat’s other gallery spaces in recognition and celebration of her first exhibition at the Bluecoat in 1985 and her inclusion in Tate Liverpool’s Afro Modern: Journeys through the Black Atlantic exhibition, which opens the same time as Like Love.
Her selection, entitled Action, will showcase emerging artists whose themes, issues and approaches contrasts with the platform of ideas presented by a generation 25 years ago. The artists Boyce has chosen are Beverley Bennett, Appau Boayke-Yiadom, Robin Deacon and Grace Ndiritu.
Sonia said: “I am no longer the central attention in the work I make. Increasingly,
over the past decade, I have involved the participation of other people. I usually ask them to perform for me and use their responses as the basis for the artworks. Like Love is about my engagement with two communities: a school for young parents in Bristol, and an art group that meets weekly at the Bluecoat consisting of adults with learning difficulties and their carers. In both instances I have used their words and their actions.
“The Action exhibition I am curating allows me to explore my own concerns about the depictions of performative actions in art. And with the four artists I have chosen, the object of their attention is not on depicting themselves.
“For example, Beverley Bennett’s subtle artworks become evidence of her interaction with the medium of drawing and then the audience becomes witness.”
Grace Ndiritu’s films are also about presence and absence . In Journey’s North, we hear her throat singing whilst viewing breath-taking views of the North Pole. Pointing the camera north, south, east and west, the artist is pivotal, yet unseen.
Robin Deacon visited New York to find out more about the work of Stuart Sherman, a Jewish, gay, 1970s artist, whose performances consisted of engaging with everyday objects. These formalist actions were a formative influence on Deacon, to such an extent that he has been re-constructing them as part of his work.
Finally, Appau Boayke-Yiadom’s sculptural installations and films are witty and elegant portrayals of objects performing. Yet quietly, under the surface of these highly formal exercises, lie references to black culture – wooden carvings and rolling watermelons, suggesting that the ‘Afro Modern’ is complex, alive and kicking.
For Like Love Part Two, Sonia Boyce has collaborated with Blue Room, an arts service
for adults with learning difficulties based at the Bluecoat in partnership with Liverpool City Council. This new work has also been supported by Liverpool PCT.
Like Love is an Arts Council England National Touring Exhibition commissioned by Spike Island in partnership with the Bluecoat and the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery.
The Blue Room participants dance to their favourite love songs on Crosby beach.