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‘Crop Over’ by Sonia Boyce

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  • Entry to see Crop Over is free with your Day Ticket, and free for members.

Monday 11 September – Sunday 22 October 2023

Crop Over is a work by the British Afro-Caribbean artist Sonia Boyce. It explores Crop Over, a Barbadian festival marking the end of the yearly harvest which originated in the 1780s on sugar cane plantations during slavery.

The two-screen video, complemented by drawings, consists of performances by symbolic characters central to the festival. It features interviews with cultural historians and documentary material, culminating in the grand carnival parade known as Kadooment Day. Boyce presents multiple perspectives on the festival, building up layers of interpretation to identify, historicise and problematise its cultural iconography. While celebrating the end of the sugar cane harvest, it links the subversive elements of the carnival to the Caribbean sugar economy and its historic relationship to the transatlantic trade in enslaved individuals.

Crop Over was commissioned by Harewood House whose gardens and grounds are contrasted with footage shot in Barbados. We are asked to consider these cultivated environments in both Britain and Barbados, as we are reminded of who owned, worked on and now enjoy these landscapes.

Sonia Boyce is one of the most prominent artists working today. She represented Britain at the 2022 Venice Biennale. Her exhibition Feeling Her Way which won the Golden Lion prize for best national pavilion is on display at Leeds Art Gallery until 5 November.


Image: William Cummins

Sonia Boyce (born 1962)
Crop Over 2007
Two-channel video, colour with sound; drawings on paper
Duration: 15 minutes, looped