Diaspora-Artists logo

Sonia Boyce - She Ain’t Holdin’ Them Up, She’s Holdin’ On

Postcard relating to an individual
Published by: Phillip Green Educational Limited

image of Sonia Boyce - She Ain’t Holdin’ Them Up, She’s Holdin’ On

Giant, A4 sized educational reproduction of Sonia Boyce’s hugely important and impressive pastel drawing, She Ain’t Holdin’ Them Up, She’s Holdin’ On (the title, as it appears on the reverse of the card, is She ain’t Holding them up, she’s Holding on: Some English Rose!) The work itself dates from 1986 and was first shown in exhibitions such as Lubaina Himid’s group exhibition, Unrecorded Truths - 16 April - 16 May 1986, held at a temporary gallery near Borough Tube Station in London. The exhibition featured the artists: Brenda Agard; Simone Alexander; David A. Bailey; Sutapa Biswas; Sonia Boyce; Allan deSouza; Keith Piper; Donald Rodney; Marlene Smith.

Boyce’s drawing was large, at over two meters tall and nearly one meter wide, its measurements were 218 x 99 cms and was executed in crayon, chalk, pastel and ink on paper, 1986. The work was acquired by Middlesborough Museums and Galleries Collection of Fine Art. The card featured a lavish reproduction of the work on one side, and contextualising notes, for the use of teachers, on the reverse. The notes are intended to be used by teachers to introduce juvenile audiences to the work, and were arranged in four sections, The Artist; The Picture, Time for Talk, and Practical Starting Points. The artist section provides some biographical notes about Boyce’s birth, upbringing, and early art school education.  The second section, The picture, discussed the work itself, and a range of meanings and readings with which it has come to be associated. Time for Talk encourages viewers to consider the ways in which the work has been constructed. And the final section suggests ways in which teachers might use the work as a starting point for pupils’ own drawings.

Extracts from each section, as follows:

The Artist: “Attending the first National Conference of Black artists (sic) in Wolverhampton in 1982 changed all this [Boyce’s apparent isolation and disconnection “from any particular kind of cultural tradition.”] because she discovered a large number of people who were in a similar position to herself.”

The Picture: “She has continually used the black rose in her work as an image of feminity, the beautiful flower with sharp thorns expresses both the strong and the fragile aspects of being a woman.”

Time for Talk - Looking at shape: “Do you think Sonia Boyce has a stronger relationship with her mother or with her father? And how can you tell from this drawing?”

Practical Starting Points - Collage: “Can children illustrate a a (sic) story about their family? Perhaps it’s an incident from holidays or early childhood. Get them to choose and collect images from magazines, brochures, catalogues etc.”

No date for the Teachers Notes is mentioned, though the reference: ART PACK W27/4 is given. The name David Petts appears at the foot of the notes.

Related people

»  Sonia Boyce MBE OBE RA

Born, 1962 in London, England

Related exhibitions

Related venues

»  The Bronx Museum of the Arts

United States of America

»  Caribbean Cultural Center

United States of America

»  Studio Museum in Harlem

New York, United States of America