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Kay Boyce

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An unusual grounding for a budding artist, but nevertheless one which piqued her interest and paved the way for future creative endeavours, albeit in the more conventional world of contemporary fine art, was Sheffield-born Kay Boyce’s childhood fascination with rolls of wallpaper. Boyce recalls hours at a time wiled away doodling on the backs of said rolls, which doubled as her early years sketchbook and canvas according to her admitting documenting anything and everything that was hitherto locked in her imagination. Regardless of the less than orthodox ways of establishing her visual ideas, this fundamentally marked the beginning of what’s turned out to be Boyce’s life-long passion for art.

After her successful schooling, Boyce went on to study Illustration at Wrexham College in North Wales, before deciding on securing meaningful occupation as a Freelance Illustrator on completion of her degree course. Boyce found the transition from art student to professional freelancer relatively straightforward, and met with success pretty much from the outset, gaining work on a number of generalist publications and women’s magazines in the wake of her leaving a higher educational surround. Those publications and periodicals weren’t just any titles either, as we’re referring to the household name likes of Women’s Weekly, Bella, My Weekly, Woman’s Own and the Sunday Express newspaper. These were readily available throughout the country on newsstands and in the public eye, where a few pages in you’d witness a Boyce illustration.

It wasn’t long before Boyce’s illustrative prowess was spotted by even bigger publication fish as it were, and she was being courted to manifest and produce illustrations for a raft of best-selling paperback titles which formed part of the editorial stables of literary heavyweights such as Hodder and Stoughton, Wadsworth Romantics, Mandarin and of course, the biggest of all, Mills and Boon. Despite this period of her career proving very fruitful in many aspects, and although Boyce admits that she’s proud of her achievements within this field of commercial illustration, all along she knew that this wasn’t her real artistic calling, and that she must bide her time to realise her potential.

Eventually Boyce bit the bullet so to speak and put an end to her freelance career and looked to go solo on a more dedicated, full-time basis and more than anything else, painting the kind of subject matter that inspired her to paint in the first instance. This turned out to be the making of Boyce, artistically and enabled her to stamp her own identity on her art work, and is a decision that she’s never looked back on or regretted in any way, shape or form. Indeed, Boyce’s creative career flourished as a result of her going her own way, and her trademark figurative and portraiture expressions committed in oils, pastels, chalk and pencil drawings have grown to become instantly recognisable to her fans, followers, serious collectors and art critics alike. What’s more, Boyce’s work has formed part of many a private collection and today she’s acknowledged throughout the UK and Europe as a leading exponent of classical figurative art.

Boyce’s training in ballet and contemporary dance during her formative years is where she sources much of her figurative inspiration from, and something which she still reserves a great deal of interest in and for, with herself recently taking up salsa, which again affords her as an artist the perfect insight into the subject and the form and movement of the individual performer in whom she wishes to capture the essence of, through her compositional work. In addition to this, and Boyce’s insistence on presenting her subjects in delicate, considered oil and pastel shades, she benefits from a love of antique clothes and vintage fabrics, which contribute greatly to the ambience of her pieces when her muses adopt such attire and ultimately represent this timeless façade and disposition courtesy of her measured canvases.

A published artist of some note under the guidance of Solomon and Whitehead for a number of years now, Boyce has been recognised within the contemporary art industry on many an occasion, which culminated in her receiving nominations as a finalist for Best Published Artist awards four years in a row, whilst also notching up Top 10 places in the separate category of Top Ten Living Artists in both 2004 and a year later in 2005, gaining the numbers 4 and 8 spots respectively at this juncture.