Artist Madeleine Pledge has created a poster entitled “Join a Union (Boty/Boots)” featuring an image of Pauline Boty which will be on display at Van Gogh House London until 31st May. Unveiled on 1st May 2021 (International Workers’ Day), it forms part of “On the Western Window Pane”, a year long project presenting 12 artist designed, limited edition posters in its front, West facing window. The poster is also available to buy in separate yellow and pink colourways – more information available here: [link]
Madeleine Pledge describes the inspiration behind her work as follows:
“The image of the artist Pauline Boty hanging a painting at the headquarters of the Trades Union Congress has been on my mind and on the walls of my studio for the last year. I like Boty’s glamorous nonchalance (cigarette in hand, handbag on arm), and her striped suit against the striped canvas. Mostly, though, I like the image for the way it positions the (supposedly isolated, individualised) figure of the artist within this context of collective action and organised labour.
From within the atomising effects of the last year, ‘Join a Union’ felt like the best thing I could say within the space of an A2 page. Boty’s image sits alongside a couple of pairs of unfired clay boots, positioned together in my studio while thinking about the photograph. These things are gathered together within a format reconstituted from the layouts of fashion adverts from 2020 editions of Vogue.”
Van Gogh House London is located at 87 Hackford Rd, Vassal, London SW9 0RE and is available to visit on pre-booked tours. More information here: [link]
Paulineboty.org is honoured to show the photo above for the first time. It was taken by Boty’s friend and fellow Royal College of Art student Geoffrey Reeve in the college’s Junior Common Room, which was originally on the first floor on the corner of Cromwell Place and Cromwell Road opposite the Natural History Museum in South Kensington. Behind Boty can be seen John Watson and Alan Cooper of The Temperance Seven rehearsing. The 1920s-style jazz band, formed at the RCA during 1957, had a UK #1 hit single in 1961 with “You’re Driving Me Crazy” produced by George Martin followed by “Pasadena”, which reached #4. More information on them can be found here [link]
Earlier this month the gouache on card work, created by Boty when a student at the Royal College of Art, sold for double its high estimate. The following image and details are all courtesy of Christie’s:
Produced in the first year of her studies at the RCA, this design already demonstrates Boty’s breadth of interests and talent for creative juxtapositions. The proportions and diptych arrangement seem made for church windows, but the content is far from ecclesiastical. Instead, the design features a dreamlike mix of architectural elements and a large letter ‘L’ framing figural elements including heads (painted frontally and in profile), and two lovers locked in an embrace. The assembly of disparate elements into a cohesive whole foreshadows Boty’s later Pop Art paintings and collages. It also reflects the influence of Charles Carey, who first taught Boty stained glass design at the Wimbledon Art School, and who encouraged students to use collage during the design process as a means of adding contemporary elements to an ancient artform.
Pauline Boty was a polymath who entered the Royal College of Art in 1958 to study stained glass design but became a leading light in the nascent Pop Art scene alongside contemporaries including Peter Blake and Derek Boshier. In this guise she produced paintings and collages which blended abstract elements with a profusion of imagery poached from pop culture, with surreal and often satirical results. She was also heavily involved with film and literature societies and agitated against some of the more egregious examples of contemporary architecture in London as a key organiser for the ‘Anti Uglies’.
Provenance The artist’s family. Private collection, London. Purchased by the present owner at the 2016 exhibition
PAULINE BOTY (1938-1966) Designs for stained glass window gouache on card 9 ¼ x 3 in. (23.5 x 7.6 cm.) each Executed circa 1958
Literature Exhibition catalogue, Pop Art Heroes Britain, London, Whitford Fine Art, 2016, pp. 26–27, no. 13, illustrated
Exhibited London, Whitford Fine Art, Pop Art Heroes Britain, May – July 2016, no. 13
The collaged wall created by Pauline Boty and photographed by Roger Mayne in 1964 has now been added to the site together with the numbered key shown above identifying some 60 items so far. As stated on the page, it is greatly hoped that this will provide a starting point for identifying the array of items chosen by Boty to adorn the wall, and that in time more of them will be identified and the list expanded further. All comments, corrections, clarifications and suggestions from visitors to the site in this regard would be greatly appreciated, via the Contact form here: [link] The new page can be accessed here: [link]
The first of a number of new images of Pauline Boty has been added to the website thanks to the generosity of one of her friends and fellow RCA students, Geoffrey Reeve, who also co-exhibited his paintings in the pioneering exhibition Blake, Boty, Porter, Reeve at the AIA Gallery in 1961. Pictured below is Boty with fellow students from the stained glass department, photographed by Reeve for an article entitled “It’s Magic” in ARK 33 magazine, Autumn 1962. Further of his portraits of Boty and her contemporaries will be shown in due course on the site via In Focus>Photos, changing on a regular basis. Over 30 of Reeve’s photos are available to license from Bridgeman Images for personal, presentation and editorial use here: [link]
The screen grab below is of a new map added to the website showing the locations of Pauline Boty’s works in galleries and museums around the world. The map itself is available here [link] NB: not all are permanently on display however, so please be sure to check with the institution in question before making a trip specifically to see a work.
The slideshow above of Pauline Boty’s collages shown in Ken Russell’s 1962 documentary Pop Goes the Easel has now also been added to the Collages section of the site [link] as detailed in a previous News item here [link]. In addition a new page has been added giving information on the sources of titles for a number of collages here [link].
A simple Search field is now available at the foot of each page, whereupon typing in the desired term and clicking Search [mobile] or pressing Return [desktop] will create a list of any pages from the site that contain the term in question, as per the example below:
“The Hidden Mod in Modern Art: London, 1957-1969” by Thomas Crow looks into the considerable influence of the Mod subculture on key figures of the 1960s British art scene. One of its six chapters is devoted in its entirety to Pauline Boty and Bridget Riley, including a fascinating account of the former’s association with John Schlesinger and his films Billy Liar and Darling. The book is published by the Paul Mellon Centre.
From the Yale University Press website: “Bonding over matters of taste and style, the ‘Mods’ of late 1950s London recognised in one another shared affinities for Italian-style suits, tidy haircuts, espresso bars, Vespa scooters and the latest American jazz. In this groundbreaking book, leading art historian Thomas Crow argues that the figure of the Mod exerted an influence beyond its assumed social boundaries by exemplifying the postwar metropolis in all of its excitement and complexity. Crow examines the works of key figures in the London art scene of the 1960s, including Robyn Denny, David Hockney, Pauline Boty, Bridget Riley and Bruce McLean, who shared and heightened aspects of this new and youthful urbanity. The triumphant arrival of the international counterculture forced both young Mods and established artists to reassess and regroup in novel, revealing formations. Understanding the London Mod brings with it a needed, up-to-date reckoning with the legacies of Situationism, Social Art History and Cultural Studies.”
Imprint: Paul Mellon Centre Distribution: Yale University Press Format: Hardback ISBN: 9781913107130 Dimensions: 241 x 165mm Pages: 200 Illustrations: 140 colour + b-w illustrations Price: £25
“Ready, Steady, Go! The Weekend Starts Here” by Andy Neill has just been published by BMG Books. The 12″ x 12″ hardback comprises 272 pages with a UK retail price of £39.99.
Pauline Boty danced on the first show and was from then on a regular dancer with Derek Boshier. Both are mentioned in the book and Boshier’s 10th July 1964 dancer’s badge button is included among its illustrations.
From the BMG press release:
“Almost sixty years have passed since the first transmission of the most influential popular music programme in British television history. Ready, Steady, Go! began broadcasting on Friday, 9th August 1963 and became an essential television ritual for the newly confident British teenager. It provided a style bible – setting trends and becoming the barometer for popular culture. It epitomised the spirit of youthful optimism that gripped Britain in the mid- Sixties, reflected by the handpicked Mod audience who were an integral part of the programme. This was perfectly embodied by girl-next-door presenter Cathy McGowan whose shy, almost awkward demeanour directly connected her with the show’s target audience. It ran for three and a half years up to December 1966, its demise coinciding with the loss of pop’s innocence and the birth of the ‘rock industry.’ Within that time RSG! set a blueprint for music presentation and production on British television that resonated over the following decades and can still be felt today. It attracted and presented anyone who was anyone in popular music at the time: The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Marvin Gaye, The Supremes and Otis Redding were just some of the important names that appeared. RSG! not only gave invaluable television promotion to these greats but also provided such then-unknowns as Rod Stewart, Marc Bolan, David Bowie, Donovan, and Jimi Hendrix with their first small screen exposure. Ready, Steady, Go! broke through technical barriers. Young adventurous directors such as Michael Lindsay-Hogg experimented with camera techniques used in French nouvelle vague cinema. The sets that were designed each week by Nicholas Ferguson were consciously modelled on current mod fashions and op art (Hockney, Riley, Blake etc.) Ready, Steady, Go! has never been documented in full detail before – until now. Thanks to exclusive contributions and unseen photographs and memorabilia, author Andy Neill fully examines Ready, Steady, Go! from quintessential Swinging London accessory to its current iconic status as the most legendary popular music programme of all time.”