From Venice to Margate: world-conquering artist Sonia Boyce brings her supergroup to the seaside

She has notched up too many firsts to count. As the work that triumphed so spectacularly in Venice returns to Britain, the once-uncollectable artist explains why she now even has a 10-year vision

When Sonia Boyce was at primary school she won a book. “It was the first one that actually belonged to me, rather than just being in the house or from the school library,” she says. The book was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and she was particularly fascinated by Willy Wonka’s lickable, snozzberry-covered wallpaper, and the square sweets that looked round. It was a lightbulb moment, involving “this conundrum, a perceptual thing that I couldn’t figure out”.

As a young child she had found wallpaper terrifying, she explains. “It definitely fed into my nightmares. I’d wake up convinced that the wallpaper was moving and I actually do believe that there is something about it that is like entering a storybook or a fable, even though it’s this thing that’s meant to sit in the background, quietly, holding a space.” Her parental home in London was papered in the jazzy designs that were popular in the 60s and 70s; her current home has nothing except bookshelves on the walls – not even pictures, she says. She has loads but they’re all stacked up on the floor.

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