Do you ever read something interesting that sticks in your mind and suddenly pops up everywhere you look?
Pauline Boty was one of the founding members of the British Pop Art movement in the early 1960’s and died trgaically young from lukaemia at 28. For many she’s a proto-feminist icon, an unusually sexually liberated woman who was struggling to be understood and have her work objectively evaluated in the days before the womens liberation movement.
Boty played with the notion of femininity and icons in her work. She was Celia Birtwell’s neighbour on Addison Road in Notting Hill and painted a portrait of her surrounded by her artistic heroes. Her most famous painting is of Marilyn Monroe, titled ‘The Only Blonde in the World’. Most of her work was deeply personal – almost a precursor to Tracey Emin.
As well as an artist she was an actress, with a small part in Alfie as well as several parts in television. She was also a dancer on Ready, Steady, Go.
Her death was untimely; Boty was pregnant when she was diagnosed with cancer and refused to have treatment until after her child was born. She died five months after her daughter was born. Who knows what could have been?