Portraits of writers from different periods and countries sit alongside portraits of dogs, a friendly lion, sea creatures and the full size images of seabirds made to illustrate Adam Nicolson’s elegaic book The Seabird’s Cry.
Adding to her stable of writers’ portraits, this time, most strikingly, there are images of the equally redoubtable Agatha Christie and Dorothy Parker. They are joined in full colour, somewhat randomly, by John Steinbeck and Robert Louis Stevenson. George Orwell is portrayed monochromatically in drypoint and carborundum three times: alone and smoking a cigarette; with Henry Miller in Paris; and with Karl Marx and Henry Ford, his chicken and dog respectively. Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir are paired prints on a background of pink Chine-collé. Cézanne printed in green and Fellini in blue stare out intensely; Jean Rhys (in yellow) and Carson McCullers (in grey with her lips and decorated jacket picked out in hand colour) contemplate their complicated lives. Jonathan Swift is beautifully paired with his muse Esther Johnson Stella, also known as Stella Johnson. A series of Spanish writers is an eclectic selection of Lorca, Anna Chaell, Anna Maria Moix and Lope de Vega.
Kate Boxer’s prints of specific dogs belonging to her friends have a universal appeal unusual in dog portraits. As with her portraits of people, she observes them with gentle amusement at the same time as transmitting their essential, often melancholy, spirit. This sensibility is evident even in her depiction of an octopus, squid or skate and majestically in the series of seabirds under threat. Adam Nicolson has written that this sensibility of Kate Boxer’s is one we should all share: “The future of seabirds – and perhaps of all living things – depends on that becoming the universal understanding.”