Take Me To The Lighthouse is the first US solo exhibition of Kenyan-British artist Phoebe Boswell. Boswell’s multimedia practice centers around a delicate diasporic consciousness of personal identity, collective memory, and what it means to belong. In a characteristically immersive and intimate presentation, this new body of work layers several aspects of Boswell’s varied artistic vocabulary, including small-scale, large, and site-specific drawings, video, interactive installations, and spoken word. Located within a broad history of portraiture and landscape painting, the work weaves a self-referential narrative of trauma, grief, and healing into a wider exploration of the interiority of the female body through nature, the selfie, and the sublime.
Throughout Western art historical canons, seascapes represent a source of not only technical skill and beauty, but also the power of nature, imagination of mythology, and inexplicable wonder of the sublime. Yet in the episodic videoscape where Boswell’s body perpetually floats, basking in the waters or exploring the sands of Zanzibar where her parents currently live, a deep sense of personal renewal penetrates through the tides of art historical representation. This work is entitled Ythlaf, a literal translation of “water-relic’” in Old English from yth (wave, water, billow) and laf (remnant, relic) – the in-between where waves recede. In this borderland, where reverence and danger meet awe and renewal, a source of healing may be carefully navigated. Water becomes a space of not only the sublime, but of play and comfort, escape and melancholy, nostalgia and rebirth – where the power of imagination may heal reality.
Phoebe Boswell (b. 1982, Kenya) is a multimedia artist who lives and works in London. Born in Nairobi to a Kikuyu mother and British Kenyan father, and brought up in the Arabian Gulf, she combines traditional draftswomanship and digital technology to create layered works anchored to an in between state of diasporic consciousness. Boswell studied Painting at the Slade School of Art and 2D Animation at Central St Martins, London and her work has been exhibited with galleries including Carroll / Fletcher, Kristin Hjellegjerde, InIVA and Tiwani Contemporary and has screened at Sundance, the London Film Festival, LA Film Festival, Blackstar and CinemAfrica amongst others. She participated in the Gothenburg International Biennial of Contemporary Art 2015 and was commissioned to make new work for the Biennial of Moving Images 2016 at the Centre d’Art Contemporain in Geneva. Boswell was the first recipient of the Sky Academy Arts Scholarship, was awarded the Special Prize at the Future Generation Art Prize for her interactive installation Mutumia, which consequently showed as part of the 57th Venice Biennale, and has recently been made a Ford Foundation fellow. She is currently a Somerset House artist-in-residence in London.