Spike Island

Sonia BoyceLike Love – Part One


3 October to 29 November 2009

Event type


Spike Island presents a new multi-media installation Like Love – Part One by British artist Sonia Boyce (1962). This new body of work includes drawings, prints, hand-made wallpaper and an animation. Like Love – Part One has been developed through a residency with The Meriton School for Young Parents, Bristol.

Central to Boyce’s practice is the act of working with other people in what she terms “improvised collaborations”, and here the artist has taken extracts from conversations with young parents, creating a visual and textual dialogue that speaks equally of young desires and insecurities. This new installation does not, however, set out to be read as a portrait of the young women nor does Boyce intend to expose private lives in the public realm. Instead, many of the quotes are derived from the students’ responses to a work of fiction. That said, the pervasive use of a photographic group portrait of Boyce's collaborators, which cleverly manifests itself as a recurring semi-abstract motif within an expanse of wallpaper, subtly pays homage to the artist's associates, while avoiding sentimentality or affectation. In other works, through choices of typography, the artist has re-interpreted quotes to create a series of artworks that produce a fragmentary experience of longing and raise wider questions about the nature of due care in contemporary life.

A selection of the work from Spike Island tours to partner venues the Bluecoat, Liverpool and The Potteries Museum & Gallery, Stoke on Trent, who in turn set up their own collaborations, generating new elements for their installments of Like Love. No one manifestation of the show will therefore be the same, and the accumulative processes and encounters of Like Love will be documented in a joint publication at the end of the tour.

Like Love in its widest sense explores universal ideas around the concept of care and community cohesion – the emotion we invest in others and in the making of works of art. Taking as its inspiration Roland Barthes’, A Lover’s Discourse, Boyce uses the combination of labour intensive and utilitarian processes to underscore the testimony, adamant posturing, ambivalence, longing and sometimes-tenuous nature of relationships.

→ Download the exhibition guide


Like Love is commissioned by Spike Island and is an Arts Council England National Touring Exhibition in partnership with the Bluecoat and The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery.

Sonia Boyce

Sonia Boyce (1962) lives and works in London. She studied art at East Ham College and Stourbridge College of Art and her practice spans a range of media including photography, installation and text.

Previous exhibitions include Praxis: Art in Times of Uncertainty, Thessaloniki Biennal II, Greece (2009), Devotional, National Portrait Gallery, London (2007), Sharjah International Bienal 7, Sharjah (2005) and Century City: art and culture in the modern metropolis, Tate Modern, London (2001). Boyce is a professor of fine art at Middlesex University London.

Supported by
  • AHRC
  • Enitharmon Press
  • Esmee Fairbairn
  • London Printworks Trust
  • Spike Print Studio
  • The Bluecoat
  • The Meriton
  • The Potters Museum and Art Gallery