Phoebe Boswell: The Lizards Within Us
Preview: 6 November, 12-6pm
Talk: Saturday 21 November 4-6pm – Phoebe Boswell will be telling stories and discussing the work
Finissage: 27 November, 6-9pm
Everything we tell you today is true…if you wish to believe it is. It’s all just words anyway, right?
The Lizards Within Us is a multi-sensory installation in which Phoebe Boswell uses film, drawing, sound, and interactive sculpture to examine how storytelling, nuance, and language aid our personal predilections towards belief.
In the summer of 2014, Boswell spent three months in Zanzibar, researching the island’s prevalent belief in an ulterior ‘spirit world’. She was on a yearlong residency at the Florence Trust in London at the time, based in a studio situated in a church. Boswell was intrigued by the notion of what makes a redundant but never deconsecrated church remain ‘holy’; what that actually means, and how it is upheld. Wanting to explore belief systems as a whole, the fundamental notions of why and how we believe, but not wanting to delve into the politics of organised religion, Boswell began to realise as her research progressed that nothing honest was going to come from her vantage point, as a cynical Londoner examining the intricacies of this deeply entrenched East African belief system. She would have to place herself within the work, and explore the frailties within her own body, if she was ever going to make any true and valid work about belief.
The exhibition’s central film The Lizard of Unmarriedness (It’s All About How You Tell It) is the starting point in which Boswell begins to narrate her tale. Subsequent artworks such as The Mechanics of Illusion I, II, III, and In Case of Corporeality deal with notions of ritualistic practice, identity and illusion. Through various gaps in Boswell’s narrative, all sorts of illusions and beliefs can begin to emerge from her initial encounter with the witchdoctor when he first mentions ‘the lizard’ spirit. The installation invites a consideration of belief and human frailty and what it is that gives us the impulse to believe. Epilogue acts as the final paragraph to Boswell’s tale and the viewer is left to discern what they make of the story.
Curated by Lanny Walker
Pencil on paper.
40cm x 30cm (each)
23mins 30 secs
The Matter of Memory, 2014
Installation, variable dimensions
Phoebe Boswell’s The Matter of Memory is an immersive multimedia installation, drawn from conversations with both her parents about their memories of Kenya. The audience is invited to explore Boswell's grandmother's colonial “living room,” discovering hidden narratives within the fabric of this intimate space, personal narratives that relate to memory, family, and love. These narratives, however, also speak of wider themes concerning place; they explore the brutalities of Kenya's colonial past and admit the historical burdens passed down through generations, ultimately shaping the artist's identity and delicate sense of belonging. She combines traditional draftsmanship and digital technology to create drawings, animations, and installations that form a language communicating global, fragmented narratives such as her own; narratives that cannot be easily explained – contained – in a single image, or a single screen film.
The Matter of Memory, 2014, Installation view Hasselblad Center, GIBCA 2015. Photo: Hendrik Zeitler
In 2012, I became one of the first two recipients of the Sky Academy Arts Scholarship, a £30,000 award given to an emergin artist under 30 to produce a new body of work. In this short film, made when I was very much in the throes of it, I discuss the process of making the work.
Animate Projects presents Pipeline: Powered by PechaKucha
Speaker: Phoebe Boswell
Phoebe Boswell is an artist; she was the first recipient of the Sky Academy Arts Scholarship in 2012.
phoebeboswell.com / @PhoebeBoswell
Accelerate Animation is a practice and professional development programme developed by Animate Projects in partnership with London College of Communication, University of the Arts London and with support from Jerwood
The Accelerate Animation report, published in November 2013, set out to map the changing landscape of contemporary creative animation and its practitioners. The findings are helping inform the creation of a new professional and practice development programme for independent, creative animators working across a broad
range of cultural and commercial practice.
Supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England
accelerateanimation.com // #APPIPE // @AnimateProjects
Project exploring my body in the city of Gothenburg, during a monthlong residency there in April 2015
‘The Girl With Stories In Her Hair’ was my final student film at Central St Martins. It was made in collaboration with the National Gallery Education department, as part of a commissioned programme called ‘Transitions’, where we were asked to choose a painting from the permanent collection as inspiration for our final films. I chose Edgar Degas’ La Coiffure and focused on the contradictive nature of Degas’ voyeuristic, misogynistic manner through which the painting was conceived, juxtaposed with the conveyed warmth and intimacy of the painting itself, and also memories of my mother combing my hair as a child.
Transcriptions - Sainsbury Wing, National Gallery, London
Norwich Film Festival – The Forum, Norwich
Bradford Animation Festival – National Media Museum, Bradford
Filmstock International Film Festival – The Hat Factory, Luton
British Animation Awards Public Choice – Queen’s Film Theatre, Belfast; AUCB, Bournemouth; National Media Museum, Bradford; Bristol Watershed, Bristol; Chapter Arts, Cardiff; QUAD, Derby; DCA, Dundee; Filmhouse, Edinburgh; Phoenix Arts Centre, Exeter; The Poly, Falmouth; Glasgow Film Theatre, Glasgow; Westminster University, Harrow; Lincolnshire University, Lincolnshire; BFI Southbank, London; FACT, Liverpool; UCCA, Maidstone; Cornerhouse, Manchester; Animex, Middlesborough; Cinema City, Norwich; Edge Hill City, Ormskirk; Peninsula Arts Cinema, Plymouth; Portsmouth University, Portsmouth; Showroom, Sheffield; Staffordshire University, Staffs; Dartington Arts, Totnes; Lighthouse, Wolverhampton
British Animation Awards – BFI Southbank, London
7th London Independent Film Festival – The Roxy Cinema, London
Rushes Soho Shorts – ICA, London; Soho Film Lab, London
Jersey Branchage Film Festival – as part of the Rushes LONDON selection, Jersey, Channel Islands
Whistling In The Dark – curated by STOMPER, Shoreditch Town Hall, London
Distinction - Central St Martins 2D Character Animation Postgraduate Diploma
Best Student Film nomination – Bradford Animation Festival, National Media Museum, Bradford
Best Film nomination – British Animation Awards Public Choice, BFI Southbank, London
Best Animated Short nomination – Rushes Soho Shorts, ICA, London
Pencil on paper
Pencil and Ink on paper, on video.
Projected onto wall, with 'sticks' drawn directly onto the wall surface.