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Boyle Family of artists gets gallery

Reclusive group that has existed in bohemian vacuum is now taking commissions

The Boyle Family today

Vigo Gallery has become the first commercial space to represent the reclusive Boyle Family and is currently showing their work in a London exhibition (“Contemporary Archaeology: the World Series: Lazio Site, 1968-2013”, until 16 November).

“It’s quite an achievement for artists to have represented themselves for so long to have had a good 50 museum shows,” says Toby Clarke, the director of Vigo Gallery, noting that the family also represented Britain at the 1978 Venice Biennale and the 1987 São Paulo Biennial.

The collaborative group—originally Mark Boyle and Joan Hills and their children Sebastian and Georgia—existed in their own, unique bohemian vacuum since the early 1960s, exhibiting as the Boyle Family from 1985. Following Mark Boyle’s death in May 2005, the family has continued its work and exhibition programme, in particular the progress of their best-known work, the “World Series”.

It is this body of work that Vigo Gallery is showing this season. Initiated in 1968 as part of a show at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts the following year, 1,000 sites were chosen at random by visitors—participants were blindfolded and either threw a dart or fired an air rifle at a huge map of the world (which now forms part of the work itself). Once the random selection was made, the artists visited, studied and recreated the site as painted fibreglass reliefs—so-called “earthpieces”. Around 25 recreations have already been made (of around 300 that are “feasible”, Clarke says, a process that he estimates could take 25 years to complete).

Vigo’s representation has already proved a success: a private foundation has acquired all the works on view that relate to the Lazio site (which comprise two earthpieces, 27 unique photographs, a film and a copy of the original map). Meanwhile, the gallery is also taking commissions for as-yet unrealised sites: two are in progress (one of which will be donated to the Royal British Society of Sculptors). These are priced between £150,000 and £250,000.

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