The noise of her rhythmic rasping, in and out, in and out, is comforting – the most familiar sound of all, and slightly disconcerting. It’s too personal to hear a stranger’s breath so loud in your ears. We’ve all been scarred by the press of heavy-breather commuters during rush hour on the tube, by the intimacy of anonymous proximity and faceless bodies. When it comes to Boswell, however, her art is the very definition of personal; her body is its source, after all.
The artist’s story of selfhood splays out before me in fresco, sketch and film. At first, it’s a narrative of suffering. The victim of partial blindness in her right eye and torn arterial heart tissue, Boswell’s physical and emotional trauma proves a stimulus for creation. Amongst her oeuvre is footage of her eye surgery at Moorfields Eye Hospital (ouch!) and an angiogram of her heart. For every depiction of herself (there are more than twenty, and not much besides), half-lines and partial erasures speak volumes – in On the Line, 2018, Boswell’s physical fragility is centre stage. Soft charcoal seems a fitting tool: the black shapes, easily rubbed and smudged, seem to rhyme with Boswell’s ideas of herself as something impermanent; mutable.