Phoebe Boswell was born in Nairobi, Kenya in 1982. Boswell is a multimedia artist and filmmaker who is based and works in London, England. In her solo exhibition titled A Tree Says: [In These Boughs the World Rustles], Boswell inhabits Orleans House Gallery in England and its surrounding woodlands, engaging the audience in an intergenerational call and response, where trees become repositories of enquiry.
The work is inspired by Hermann Hesse’s Trees are Sanctuaries. With this work, Boswell invites audiences to explore personal and collective strengths, vulnerabilities, triumphs, sorrows, contradictions – rage and love; knowns and unknowns; – through storytelling and the radical act of listening. The work is about memory, history, place, and the importance of intergenerational exchange. With delicate yet rigorous energy, Boswell transforms the site into both sanctuary and forum. Through the generous recollections and contemplations of the elders, visitors are invited to connect to lineages of language and be guided by the inherent knowledge of the natural world.
Gathered with the work and open to questions from the viewers of the work is a vast and global group of nominated elders: from a freedom-loving feminist activist from Gorée; to an Irish ex-nun turned actor; to a Greek scientist with a passion for plants; to a psychiatrist from Zimbabwe who engaged grandmothers in an ecosystem of care for his community; to the first Black woman to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale. These elders’ knowledge and experience offer conversational exchanges which result is a generative layering of form and language, encouraging the audience to spend time both inside the gallery and outside, in nature.
The exhibition contains audio playing simultaneously and will be on display until the 5th of November 2023 in the Main Gallery space at Orleans House Gallery. A Tree Says has been made possible with generous support from Arts Council England.