Art that Made Us is a landmark eight-part series for BBC Two co-produced by the BBC and The Open University. Through 1,500 years and eight dramatic turning points, the series presents an alternative history of the British Isles, told through art.
Leading British creatives, including Simon Armitage, Anthony Gormley, Lubaina Himid, Maxine Peake and Michael Sheen join cultural historians to explore key cultural works that define each age.
Boty is represented in the final episode of the series, Brilliant Isles which “explores how the generation of artists who recorded the shocks of global war gave way in the 1950s and 1960s to an explosion of new voices from across the British Isles, reinventing the arts and creating a richer, more diverse culture. Young artists rebelled against the old establishment, kicking against the confines of class, sex, nation and race. Actress Lesley Sharp performs passages from Shelagh Delaney’s breakthrough play A Taste of Honey which brought the ordinary lives and unheard voices of working class women to a mainstream audience, while Chila Kumari Singh Burman explores the career of pop artist Pauline Boty.” [from the BBC website]
For further information including synopses, clips, broadcasting times and dates and link to iPlayer please see the BBC Programme page here [link]
Earlier this week the photo above by John Aston of Boty smoking a cigarette was sold by RR Auction based in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, specialists in rare manuscripts, autographs, and historic artefacts. Signed and inscribed in fountain pen, “To George, Best wishes, Pauline Boty”. Vintage glossy 8.75″ x 5.75” photo. Price realised: $1,242 [plus Buyer’s Premium]. Estimate: $200+.
Taken in 1962, this is from a series John Aston took which included a portrait of Boty standing in front of a painting by her of Marilyn Monroe, mimicking Monroe’s pose with beads in mouth. The whereabouts of this are now unknown, although it is possible that it was overpainted to become “The Only Blonde in the World”.
Please click here to see the version held by the National Portrait Gallery [link]
A new Spotify playlist of music relating to Boty is now available. The tracks are organised into sections representing their relevance – as titles or subjects of the works, as soundtracks to her onscreen appearances on TV and film, to her appearances on Ready Steady Go! and to the collaged wall she created in her flat in west London.
Please click here to go to the playlist and see details behind the track selection [link]
Earlier today a drawing by Boty of her husband Clive Goodwin sold for almost double its high estimate. The following image and details are all courtesy of Sworders Fine Art Auctioneers:
Pauline Boty (1938-1966). The artist’s husband, Clive Goodwin, reclining, c.1963, pencil. 25 x 20 cm. Price realised GBP 5,500. Estimate GBP 2,000 – GBP 3,000.
Reclining with ease, Boty captures her husband Clive Goodwin in a moment of sleepy repose. The intimacy of the composition is primarily created through the simplicity of the line, which captures the figure with such confidence it speaks of familiarity. Moreover, the drawing’s cropped focus and its unusual angle of looking up Clive’s nostrils adds a playful and loving air to the piece.
Boty draws with a quick and assured line that identifies shapes within the scene, the jumper, belt, nostrils, lips and striped wallpaper in the background are all outlined. This technique of capturing form through simple line is reminiscent of the bold forms found in British Pop Art. Boty was born in South London in 1938, she was the youngest of four children and grew up in a conservative Catholic family. In 1954, she won a scholarship to Wimbledon School of Art, which she accepted with the support of her mother (whose artistic ambitions had been thwarted by her parents).
Boty studied lithography and stained-glass making, but also painted in a distinctive style. She exhibited with the Young Contemporaries alongside Robyn Denny and Bridget Riley in both 1957 and 1959. Her developing friendships with Pop artists such as Hockney and Blake drew her further into this circle, and in 1961, she participated in a group show titled ‘Blake, Boty, Porter, Reeve’. Just two years later, she had her first solo show at the Grabowski Gallery, which was received with acclaim. After a brief stint in acting and on radio, Boty returned to painting. Her work became increasingly political with anti-Vietnam War and anti-patriarchy themes emerging. After a whirlwind romance, she married Clive Goodwin in 1963, which is the same year this drawing was undertaken. Boty became pregnant with their first child in 1965, but early into the pregnancy, doctors discovered a cancerous tumour. Knowing that treatment would damage the foetus, Boty chose not to pursue this and she died aged just twenty-eight, only five months after the birth of her daughter.
In 2013, Boty received her first retrospective at the Wolverhampton Art Gallery; later travelled to Pallant House Gallery.
Provenance Estate of Pauline Boty; estate of Clive Goodwin; Nicholas Grindley
PAULINE BOTY (1938-1966) The artist’s husband, Clive Goodwin, reclining Pencil on paper 25 x 20cm Executed circa 1963
Nell and Pauline is a short film currently in post-production based on the conversation between Nell Dunn and Pauline Boty in 1963 documented in Dunn’s book Talking to Women.
The film is directed by Zoé Ford Burnett, with Helena Wilson playing Nell and Hannah Morrish playing Pauline. The three have all worked together in different capacities over the years, both at the National Theatre and RSC, but it was whilst in lockdown that they found themselves recommending the Pauline Boty conversation from Talking to Women to each other and talking about how moved they’d all been by it: “It was a time of feeling scared and creatively stunted, but reading that conversation reinvigorated us and reminded us of the need to create even in difficult times” explained Hannah.
Shot over two days in the summer of 2021 on a shoestring budget, the filmmakers were given permission by Dunn to use the conversation transcript verbatim for its dialogue. Many of the team worked for free as they felt it was such an important story to tell.
A final £2,000 is now needed to pay for editing, music composition, a premiere screening featuring a panel discussion on Dunn and Boty’s lives and work, and film festival submissions. All donations will be thanked with a special mention in the film’s credits, any publicity for the film, and at the film’s premiere screening, along with free tickets to the premiere screening.
Further information is available at the fundraising page here: [link]
The talk will take place at Gazelli Art House on February 22nd, 6:00 – 8:00 pm (GMT) to accompany the “Oh, Marilyn!” exhibition currently being held at the gallery.
The panel discussion will draw on the history of art during the 60s wave of female emancipation in the UK and US and its impact on the arts, specifically the legacy of exhibiting artist Pauline Boty. Panellists include Ali Smith (CBE FRSL award-winning author, whose work Autumn features Boty as a central figure) and Dr Sue Tate (author of the biography Pauline Boty: Pop artist and Woman and co-curator of the associated retrospective which ran at both Wolverhampton Art Gallery and Pallant House Gallery in the UK).
You can join either at the gallery or online (audio only) Click here to join at the gallery [limited places]: [link] Click here to hear the talk live online: [link]
Further information about the exhibition is available here [link]
Gazelli Art House 39 Dover Street London W1S 4NN +44 207 491 8816
147 Women Dinner Party is an installation by Sophie Parkin and Mandee Gage about women who were celebrated in their day and should be better remembered for how they have been instrumental in making and changing Britain. Each of the 147 one-off, hand-made, hand-painted pieces (including plates, candlesticks, bowls, mugs, vases and more) is dedicated to one of the women.
“I had a revelation whilst at The Temple of Apollo, Delphi, Greece where the High Priestess Pythia foresaw and proclaimed. Why has nobody heard of Pythia? Pythia held the most powerful position of any woman in the Ancient World, wrote 147 Maxims for humans to abide by, carved into the stones around the temple. Some of these have been adopted by every religion, most have been ascribed to Socrates or Plato or other male philosophers, after Pythia. Why?
147 Maxims, 147 Women of Britain who should be better remembered, who were celebrated in their day. With time on my hands during the pandemic I thought this was the moment to find a ceramicist interested in making and decorating 147 pieces! I found Mandee Gage to collaborate with. Mandee has hand-made each piece – original and different – just like women. I have decorated half of them; all of them are dedicated to the women named on their bases. Mandee and I are stamped into each piece too. Women And Men, have made this country. This is what it means to be British.
147 Women became Dinner Party because we saw the installation laid out like a dinner table, traditionally a woman’s work, and to commemorate Judy Chicago’s piece, The Dinner Party, which has 39 guests with elaborate embroidered place settings that took scores of women to make. Mandee and I alone have done everything, including the book that accompanies the exhibition with potted bios, an image and of course each individual dedicated piece.” [by Sophie Parkin, from the Stash Gallery at Vout-O-Reenee’s website]
Sophie Parkin is an artist, writer, mother, broadcaster, journalist and businesswoman, co-owner of Vout-O-Reenees and The Stash Gallery. She has had 9 books published incl The Colony Room Club; a history of Soho, four one women shows and co-presenter/ producer of podcast @ShadowSpies.
Mandee Gage is a mixed media artist, teacher and ceramicist whose work refers to human rights, the environment and societies engagement with it. Gage ran Hybrid Art and Science group for 10 years. She has shown extensively in the UK and internationally from Oaxaca in Mexico, to the Venice Bienna
147 Women Dinner Party is on display at: Stash Gallery at Vout-O-Reenee’s The Crypt, 30 Prescot St, London E1 8BB 10th February–26th February The Beecroft Gallery Southend 5th March – 27th March Broomhill Estate Gallery Devon 8th April
Further information, including opening times, is available at the gallery website here: [link] A podcast explaining the origins of the exhibition is here: [link]
In Boty’s first and sadly, only, film role she appeared briefly as the manageress of a dry cleaners where she and Michael Caine’s Alfie share an embrace as they disappear behind racks of clothes – “And I was getting a suit clean in the bargain. Well. You can’t turn sometime like that down!” The images show Boty and Caine both in their roles inside and in conversation outside, presumably with director Lewis Gilbert on Earl’s Court Road where the building was located. In addition to Caine, the film starred Millicent Martin, Julia Foster, Jane Asher, Shirley Anne Field, Vivien Merchant, Eleanor Bron and Shelley Winters and had its premiere at the Plaza Theatre in London on 24 March 1966. . The contact sheets are currently available for sale on eBay – the listing’s description includes the following: “Alfie (1966). A unique important collection of 70 original silver gelatin contact sheets. Provenance: from the collection of the director and producer of the movie; Lewis Gilbert. A total of 70 contact sheets containing a complete sequence of images from ‘ALF 1’ through to ‘ALF 1,481’. The BFI (British Film Institute) has around 300 stills from the movie in their archive – here there are 1,481 across the 70 contact sheets. Essentially a museum/exhibition piece with the ultimate provenance. Alfie is the seminal ‘Swinging Sixties London’ movie that turned Michael Caine into a movie superstar and global icon, and likewise the breakthrough movie for Lewis Gilbert who went on to direct three James Bond movies and later worked again with Caine on Educating Rita. The images are a mix of frames from the movie, outtakes and photography stills, on set scenes, off set, production team, movie promos etc, probably many never seen before..
In very good condition, some with very slight imperfections from gentle handling. Probably never removed since 1966 from their original album sleeves until now for listing photography.
Absolutely unique and rare with second to none provenance.”
More images of the sheets uploaded to Instagram can be seen by searching the hashtag #alfiecontactsheets
Running from 21 January to 12 March 2022, the exhibition is dedicated to the 60s wave of female emancipation in the UK and US and features Pauline Boty together with Judy Chicago, Penny Slinger and Jann Haworth.
“Showing for the second time at the gallery, Pauline Boty (1938–1966) was a founder of the British pop art and Britain’s most notable pop art painter. Her paintings and collage work often made references to female sexuality as well as current affairs, criticising the nature of the “man’s world.” On display in the exhibition is Angel (60s) and A Big Hand (ca. 1961), a collage work depicting a female hand holding sculptural figures from Rome’s Trevi Fountain above a Victorian park scene.
Gallery artist Jann Haworth (b. 1942) moved to London from Los Angeles in 1961 to study at the Slade School of Fine Art, becoming a pioneer of soft sculptures that led her to challenge the notion of female form serving as a muse or object of desire. Exhibited works include the Pom Pom Girl (1964-65), China Cabinet (1963–1964), Dog (1962), Linder Doll (1965), Still Life Marble Fabric ( 1962) and Rhinestones (1963–64).
Penny Slinger (b. 1947) explores feminism and eroticism through work including photography, film and sculpture. On display are a series of vintage black and white photographs from the artist’s subversive Bride Book (1973) and works from her 1973 series Mouthpieces.
Multidisciplinary artist Judy Chicago was a trailblazing pioneer the feminist movement in the 1960s and ’70s; for decades, she has made work that celebrates the multiplicity of female identity. The exhibition features And She Vomited up the Sun and the Moon and then the night had its Own Light (1981) and her pyrotechnic Atmospheres series.
The exhibition title draws on the 60th death anniversary of Marilyn Monroe, whose death represented a departure point for female empowerment. A portion of proceeds will be donated to Women’s Aid.” [from the Gazelli Art House website]
Gazell Art House, 39 Dover Street, London W1S 4NN Tel: +44 207 491 8816 Link to exhibition website: [link]