Heather Boxall



Heather is a British artist. She was born in Gravesend, Kent in 1960 and grew up along the southeast Kent coast. She now lives and works in West Yorkshire. She gained a degree in Fine Art from Winchester School of Art in 1981 and later completed an MA in Printmaking at Bradford School of Art.

Heather has worked in education since the 1990s. Formally a senior lecturer in Fine Art at Cumbria University and Head of School at Bradford School of Art, she is currently an associate lecturer at both Craven and Bradford Colleges.

Heather is a painter and printmaker. Her practice is concerned with the ‘stuff of colour’. As a student she remembers the late Gillian Ayers’ remark ‘you’re a good colourist’. Since that time, she has maintained her love of colour. Her work draws on references from texts and poems, historical paintings and artefacts, landscape and the natural world.

Heather’s interest in colour has also led her to work with stained glass and is an experienced stained glass maker. For more information about her glass work, please visit: www.axisweb.org/p/heatherboxall

About Colour

Colour determines almost everything we do. It operates on many different levels: visually, emotionally, cognitively. The sky, be it blue, white or grey, helps us decide what to wear. If a banana is green, yellow or brown it informs us if it can be eaten. According to neuroscientist, Anya Hurlbert, colours are linked to our ability to conceptualise, categorise and label. But we don’t all see colour the same way. Colour is slippery, mutable. It is our own personal possession, made in our own individual minds.[1]

Colour then is complex and elusive. Josef Albers wrote that ‘colour deceives continuously’[2] and Umberto Eco ‘colour is not an easy matter’[3]. Colour as subject is ineffable, hard to pin down, to describe. But it is also intoxicating. Artists have for centuries responded to colour in a myriad of different ways. Heather’s paintings explore the relevance and ambiguity of colour. Her monochrome works, with the abandonment of figure/ground relationships, first appear to represent ‘nothing’. Yet the complexity of ‘nothing’ brings instead a unique focus on colours symbolic, optical and material qualities.

Recent paintings are made working on gesso prepared supports. Using thin glazes of oil prepared pigments to build up layers of colour, her works create a luminosity of surface. This subtlety requires close viewing and the works reveal themselves through time spent looking.

[1] Anya Hurlbert on seeing colour, The Life Scientific BBC Radio 4 Interview with Jim Al-Khalili, Feb 2020

[2] Josef Albers cited in Colour Documents of Contemporary Art, edited by David Batchelor 2008 p14

[3] Ibid