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Composition Professor in award-winning Venice Biennale Installation

Thu 28 April 2022

Featuring Errollyn Wallen CBE, ‘Feeling Her Way’ has won the Golden Lion at the 59th International Art Exhibition

Sonia Boyce has made history as the first black artist to represent Britain at the Venice Art Biennale, the world’s longest-running and most high-profile international exhibition of contemporary art.

And now her multi-layered artwork for the British Pavilion has claimed the top prize at the 59th International Art Exhibition, making her the first British artist to win the award in almost 30 years.

Feeling Her Way combines video, collage, music and sculpture to focus on the vocal experimentation of five outstanding black female musicians as they embody feelings of power, freedom and vulnerability.

At the heart of the installation are filmed sessions recorded at London’s iconic Abbey Road studios.

Trinity Laban composition professor Errollyn Wallen CBE guides jazz singer Jacqui Dankworth, singer songwriters Poppy Ajudha and Tanita Tikaram, and experimental vocalist Sofia Jernberg through a series of exercises, inviting them to improvise and play with their voices in new ways.

Boyce wants to hear what happens when creative women are unconstrained by social expectations or market forces, by the demand that they behave themselves. So Wallen encourages the vocalists to use the voice as a vehicle of free expression, inviting them to make curious, disturbing, even ugly sounds: “You don’t have to make a nice sound”, she explains.

On being involved in the award-winning artwork, Wallen comments –

“I loved working with Sonia as I have long been an admirer of her work. Feeling Her Way captures the essence of being a musician and the devotion combined with attentive listening, which is central to this activity.”

Described by The Observer as a “renaissance woman of contemporary British music”, Wallen is central within Trinity Laban’s Composition department.