Caribbean Heritage, British Artist Presented with Damehood at Windsor Castle

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

News Americas, LONDON, England, Weds., May 22, 2024: Black Caribbean heritage artist Sonia Boyce has been presented with her damehood at Windsor Castle by the Prince of Wales.

British-Caribbean artist Sonia Boyce poses with her medal after being appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) following an investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle, southern England, on May 22, 2024. (Photo by ANDREW MATTHEWS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Following the investiture ceremony, Dame Sonia spoke to the PA news agency, expressing her desire to use her elevated profile to continue advocating for the arts. Born in Islington, north London, in 1962, to a Guyanese father and a Barbadian mother who met and married shortly after arriving in the city, Dame Sonia was honored for her services to the arts in the King’s New Year Honours list in 2024.

Reflecting on the moment she received the news of her damehood, she said, “It was very hard for me to reconcile when I got the letter saying, ‘We’d like to offer you the damehood’. I was like, really? Trying to put myself in what I imagine a dame to be. It took a while for me to reconcile that yes, I could take that on somehow.”

Dame Sonia made history in 2016 as the first black woman elected to the Royal Academy of Arts and is a professor of black art and design at the University of the Arts London. She commented on her damehood, saying, “It’s a recognition of work that not only I have done but has been done over the decades to acknowledge and, I suppose, reward the contributions that many have made. So I feel very privileged – slightly shocked still – to be in this position and also to be an advocate for the arts. We so need that at the moment – the arts are just incredible, they’re not an add-on, they’re integral to everyday life.”

Dame Sonia emphasized the importance of the arts, stating, “The arts are really about if you’ve got something to say, or you’re envisaging something, you’re in a dialogue with everybody about it. So it really is about ‘Come and take part, come and add to the conversation, come and dream your dreams’.” She also noted the evolving inclusivity of the Royal Academy of Arts, saying, “The Royal Academy of Arts is becoming much more inclusive, and people have fought very hard to make that possible. Of course, it needs to open the doors to a really diverse group of artists who are in a renaissance at the moment. There is so much creativity going on.”

Discussing the broader cultural landscape, she added, “In the UK, we’ve still got a long way to go, but in the same way that British culture is always slightly quirky and often ahead of the curve, the creative industries are punching above their weight.”