Therme Art Program

Therme Group Supports Sonia Boyce’s “Feeling her way” at Biennale Arte 2022

Therme Group announced its support of Sonia Boyce’s major solo exhibition at La Biennale di Venezia 2022, commissioned by the British Council to represent Great Britain in the British Pavilion at the 59th International Art Exhibition. This marks Therme Group’s fourth consecutive partnership with the British Council at the Venice Art and Architecture Biennials.

Running from 23 April–27 November 2022, Sonia Boyce’s installation Feeling Her Way in the British Pavilion immerses visitors in the collaborative dynamism of five Black female musicians (four British, one Swedish) brought together by the artist to improvise, interact, and play with their voices. Colour-tinted video works take centre stage among Boyce’s signature tessellating wallpapers and golden 3-D geometric structures, which bring the audience into the work through their highly reflective surfaces. The rooms of the pavilion are filled with sounds — sometimes harmonious, sometimes clashing – embodying feelings of freedom, power and vulnerability.

Vocalists include award-winning, intergenerational singers: Poppy Ajudha, Jacqui Dankworth MBE, Sofia Jernberg, Tanita Tikaram and composer Errollyn Wallen CBE – all linked by their jazz and soul influences and impressive vocals. The central video installation show the singers as they meet for the first time, improvise, and perform together acapella, demonstrating the potential of collaborative play as a route to innovation, a central theme in Boyce’s practice. The videos were filmed at Abbey Road Studios in London and Atlantis Studios in Stockholm.

Room 6 in the British Pavilion featuring performer Tanita Tikaram, 2022 – Image Cristiano Corte © British Council

Room 1 in the British Pavilion featuring four performers – Errollyn Wallen, Tanita Tikaram, Poppy Ajudha, Jacqui Dankworth – 2022 – Image Cristiano Corte © British Council

This new commission expands on Boyce’s Devotional Collection, built over 20+ years and spanning more than three centuries, which honours the substantial contribution of Black British female musicians to the emotional lives of the public and to transnational culture. Works from this collection – vinyl, CDs, books and ephemera – form part of the installation in the pavilion, elevated by golden plinths.

On the British Council Commission, Sonia Boyce commented:

“I feel deeply honoured to have been selected to produce this work for the British Pavilion at Biennale Arte 2022. The wealth of generosity and sheer talent of those who have contributed to making Feeling Her Way has been immense and I am so proud of what has been achieved. Most of all the performers who dared to go on this journey – they are absolutely brilliant!”

Emma Dexter, British Council Director Visual Arts, Commissioner of the British Pavilion and Chair of the British Pavilion Selection Committee, said:

“We are extremely proud to have Sonia Boyce representing Britain at the Biennale Arte 2022. Feeling Her Way typifies Sonia’s highly collaborative way of working – bringing together performers in the spirit of inclusiveness, generosity, experimentation and play. This exhibition is her most ambitious to date and brings fresh ideas and perspectives to the British Pavilion. It asks us to consider how Black British female musicians have played a part in our own lives, moreover it encourages us to immerse ourselves in a truly joyful experience.”

Artist Sonia Boyce standing in room 5 at the British Pavilion, 2022, Image Cristiano Corte © British Council

The exhibition is curated by Emma Ridgway, who was selected as the Shane Akeroyd Associate Curator of the British Pavilion through an open call. From January 2021, she has worked alongside Sonia Boyce and the British Council team to deliver the exhibition and has written the essay for the catalogue Feeling Her Way.

Curator Emma Ridgway, (Shane Akeroyd Associate Curator) of the British Pavilion at Biennale, said:

“It has been a privilege and pleasure to work with Sonia Boyce, the performers, production teams and the British Council on this uplifting exhibition. Central to the exhibition are Boyce’s colour-filtered video works that immerse the gallery spaces in the emotive sound of women singing. Powerful singing requires both imagination and the maximising of each individual breath; particularly relevant in our recent times, as both breathing and improvising together in uncertain situations have become vital.”

Boyce’s experimental and participatory approach to art-making is a direct source of inspiration for Therme Art’s mission to support the realisation of art and cultural productions that promote community, belonging, and wellbeing. Additionally, La Biennale’s ground-breaking cohort of artists reminds us that inclusivity is an essential starting point from which true innovation and progress can sprout.

The social components of Sonia Boyce’s process and installation, as well as the practices of other artists who involve community in their work in order to provoke change, will be explored during Therme Art’s Wellbeing Culture Forum: The Impact of Social Practice on April 21, 2022, at the British Pavilion.