Sonia Boyce wins Golden Lion Award for a cappella installation at Venice Biennale

The British Council has announced Sonia Boyce OBE RA as the winner of the prestigious Golden Lion award for her sound installation Feeling Her Way.

Boyce’s artwork focusses on vocal experimentation by five outstanding Black female musicians with video works presented among the artist’s signature tessellating wallpapers and golden geometric structures. The venue’s rooms are filled with a cappella vocal sounds ’embodying feelings of freedom, power and vulnerability’.

This new commission expands on Boyce’s Devotional Collection, built over more than two decades and spanning more than three centuries, which honours the substantial contribution of Black British female musicians to transnational culture.

Making the award, the jury said, ‘Sonia Boyce proposes … another reading of histories through the sonic. In working collaboratively with other black women, she unpacks a plenitude of silenced stories.’

‘Joyful, soulful and necessary’

Sonia Boyce said, ‘This is momentous, and utterly overwhelming. I want to say thank you to everyone for their support. Their generosity has been beyond my expectations. Even more so to the great team I have been fortunate to work with. The performers in Feeling Her Way – Poppy Ajudha, Jacqui Dankworth MBE, Sofia Jernberg, Tanita Tikaram and Errollyn Wallen CBE – are stunning. They connect us in ways that are joyful, soulful and necessary. Venice is living up to its reputation as the city of dreams.’

Emma Dexter, British Council Director Visual Arts, Commissioner of the British Pavilion and Chair of the British Pavilion Selection Committee, said, ‘I could not be more delighted that Sonia Boyce’s Feeling Her Way has been recognised in this way – Sonia made a work for the Biennale that speaks of hope, experiment, joy and freedom, and the importance of remembering and celebrating women’s achievements and creativity.

‘It is also highly significant that an artist who was part of the Black British Art movement of the 1980s has been honoured in this way – thereby bringing this crucial part of British art history into an international spotlight.’

Explore the exhibition online and meet the artist and curator in the films above and below.