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Daisy Boman

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Growing up in the 1980s the only tiny, pale brown-coloured characters we recall are TV’s Morph and his mate, Chad; who used to regularly appear on the BBC’s Take Hart programme which was aimed at encouraging kids to take up art. Which some of us duly did. Now we’re not entirely sure if this tea-time favourite made it over the airwaves and across the English Channel to Belgium’s shores, but if it did then there’s an outside chance that leading contemporary figurative sculpture artist, Daisy Boman might well be aware of their presence. But then Boman’s affectionately called, ‘Bo-Men’ aren’t crudely manufactured from Plasticine, as were the aforementioned duo. Plus the sort of anarchic message engendered by Morph and Chad wasn’t exactly what Boman’s creations convey to be perfectly honest. So as intros go, this isn’t that relevant. But now we’ve got your attention, let’s tell you all about Boman and her stunningly sculptured art. And let’s begin in reverse order with her Bo-Men, before we back pedal a bit.
The unquestionably defining feature of Boman’s presence and reputation as a contemporary sculpture artist must be her pocket-sized, faceless figures, hand-crafted from clay by Boman herself, which defy characterisation and act, quite literally/visually, as individual blank canvases. And therein sporting no differentiating identities or personalities to be pre-judged on. During the creation process each figure is said to acquire unique cracks or marks of exposure that subsequently goes some way to imply and to some extent, represent, the burden that each of us carries in our own lives at times. Yet despite their intended anonymity they are all unified and march under the one flag as it were. As Boman strives to raise the issue that race and creed shouldn’t stand in anyone’s way, she best illustrates this by leaving the Bo-Men the one, colourless hue.
Again, their allegiance to one another and complete lack of obvious, superficial differentials are highlighted by the fact that all the Bo-Men possess square blockheads, devoid of any facial features. The squareheads further embellish the propositioning of these creations as each and every one being products of the same original mould, and that as members of the one society we should all live as one in harmony. They ask that they/we are seen for what they/we are, as opposed to who they/we are, ultimately proving that we aren’t as isolated as we sometimes think we are.
First imagined and then cast in a variety of poses, be it sitting, standing, cheering, helping, watching, jeering or offering support, the Bo-Men can be alternatively and conversely observed as either helping or indeed, hindering one another when set in their habitual group situations. Their actions are deemed to be on the one hand, positive and on the other, negative, reflecting humanity’s perspective itself. If there’s one common thread and recurrent theme which Boman aims to make the centrepiece and ideological mantra of every composition, then it’s that her figures are perceived to be moving upwards; aiming for a common goal or purpose. As the Bo-Men traverse the surface on which they exist, they seemingly propel forward and upward whilst performing tasks within the limitations of the picture plane. With minimalistic obstacles to overcome, or alternatively ladders, ropes and metal posts to assist their ascent or descent, they constantly work with one another to get where they’re going, no matter what’s put before them.
Anyway, that’s more than enough waffle about the Bo-Men, and instead let’s turn our attentions to the best-selling and hugely popular contemporary sculptor herself. Boman was born and raised in the Flemish part of Belgium, not far from one of the diamond trading capitals of the world, Antwerp. Throughout her childhood, she was rarely seen without a pencil or paintbrush clutched in her hand and paper at the ready, and courtesy of constant encouragement and nurturing Boman’s fledgling artistry flourished at the famous Sissa School in Antwerp where she was given the opportunity to study a wide range of techniques and media. And when the time came, Boman followed her schooling up by winning a place at the country’s Academy of Fine Arts in Mol, where she chose to study both interior design and photography. Once Boman had got to grips with these skills, she went on to experiment with ceramics, and quickly became enraptured by the almost limitless possibilities this new medium presented the creative individual.
After she left the higher educational environment, and as she pressed on with her pursuit of a career as a professional artist and sculptor, Boman got married, and in 1981 the couple upped Belgium sticks and moved to South Africa after her husband was offered an exciting architectural opportunity he just couldn’t turn down, based in Johannesburg. Far from the relocation stopping Boman’s artistic dreams in its tracks, the reverse happened as she went from strength to strength and constructed an enviable reputation for her first noted works. While in South Africa Boman’s sculptured craft was selected on several occasions for showcasing at the National Ceramic Exhibition, as her work and concepts behind her work became increasingly shaped by the social fabric and culture of the country in which she now lived, and moreover the characteristics and reactions to a people enduring Apartheid.
After five years spent in South Africa, Boman returned to Belgium in 1986 and her first exhibition in Antwerp, 12 months on was clearly influenced by her African experiences. Since then Boman has successfully exhibited in her native Belgium, South Africa, France and elsewhere, while most recently she’s chosen to artistically interpret her personal views on the uprising in Egypt in her second exhibition, entitled ‘Encounter’, which featured some 20 new pieces.