Write It Out - Meet the Artists Involved
Dr Ash Brockwell is a transmasculine artivist, academic and consultant, and the founder of the LGBTQIA+ arts platform Reconnecting Rainbows. His first solo exhibition entitled ‘TransVerse’ and held at The Art House, Southampton in August 2019, brought together acrylic paintings, 3D multimedia art and poetry. Ash is an Associate Professor at the London Interdisciplinary School, opening in 2021, where he is developing curricula and piloting courses in Problem-Based Learning and Qualitative Methods.
Fred Ashleigh Thornton
‘Paper, Doll, Me’
Fred Ashleigh Thornton is a queer artist practicing in Southampton. They make autobiographical work to process their everyday experiences and personal relationships as some who often feels ‘othered’.
Fred developed their workshop to introduce participants to historical queer figures and provide them with an opportunity to explore their own queer identities through making paper dolls. The aims of the workshop are to celebrate what can sometimes be forgotten or marginalized narratives in a playful and creative way that gives those taking part new creative skills to take into their own lives.
Panel Discussion: The role of the arts in LGBTQIA+ Mental Health and Wellbeing
We asked all of our panellists to tell us why this topic is important to them:
Queen Victoria Otega
“Utilizing art to heal is as old as time, human consciousness and ability has resulted in art being a tool to heal. Written thoughts have tangibility and existence of ones self. They are our translation into the real world, the language of creation”
About me: I am a consultant focused on building the capacity of trans-lead organizations to become sustainable. I am also the International chair of FLUX, the trans division of AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest HIV care provider in the world.
“Art is incredibly important to me, it is the medium that I use to express myself and process my thoughts and feelings. I use various different intersections of art, such as drawing, painting, drag performance, making music, collage and photography. I think that creating art as a member of the LGBT+ community is so important to not only archive our existence and feelings but as a way to be visible”
About me: Kai Frog AKA Frogb0i (he/they) is a Blk trans non-binary multidisciplinary artist, poet, queer activist & Drag creature. Kai is passionate about creating art whether on his face, through words or on a canvas to shine a light onto the (literal) black hole that surrounds the reality of existing as a queer transgender person of colour, in a world that is too happy to sanitize.
More of my work can also be found at http://www.frogb0i.com
Rev Bingo Allison
“So much of our experience of mental health and wellbeing feels ephemeral, difficult to pin down or describe. When we couple this with the uniqueness of our experiences as LGBT+ people, it can feel almost impossible to even express our experience. The arts can often provide the best way to begin expressing our ephemeral experience, and in expressing, advocating and seeking help, and in advocating and seeking help, finding reconciliation and wellbeing”
About me: Describing themself as a “recovering performance poet,” Reverend Bingo Allison (they/them) is also genderqueer, transgender, autistic, and an ordained priest in The Church of England. Having recently completed a project to write and record a series of vignettes based on the ancient “O Antiphons,” they continue to write and perform about queer spirituality and autistic joy.
“To me art is an expression when words are not enough, it is away to explore the raw emotion inside of you. It is vital inside prisons as for many once the door is shut as long as they have a pen and paper they can create anything”
About me: I am a Transgender man. Pronoun’s He/him. I spent two years inside prison were art, poetry and performance was my life line. I got out in 2019 to start a collective company called StandFast were people could come together and explore themes that effected them inside the criminal justice system.
Kestral Gaian (chair)
Kestral Gaian (She/They) is a writer, producer, and activist based in Hampshire. Working in mental health and writing as much as possible, she is a published novelist, poet, and scriptwriter as well as an outspoken LGBTQ+ activist and tireless advocate for positive mental health and wellbeing.
RKP (They/Their/Them) is a Gender Queer Drip Artist, Streamer, Host, and Poet who doesn’t shy away from exposing heartfelt raw words and nerves. Born in the East and brought up in Cambridge this tongue twister of a poet can be found at various open mics, festivals and poetry events. Inspired by life and all things creative this colourful ‘Jack of (almost nearly) all trades has been described as “a pensive wordsmith who daringly invites the audience in to listen to their “destructive yet fun autobiographical poems.” www.thedripartist.uk
Deborah Goatley-Birch is an interdisciplinary artist from Southampton. She is currently researching European carnival and mask whist working part-time for local Autism Charity, Autism Hampshire.
Her practice focuses on identity and representation, a theme she has explored in her experimental short films. “Being autistic does not define me as an artist, however the way in which I perceive the world and interpret my experience is something which cannot be separated from my art practice”.
Focusing on three Southampton based case studies, Deborah will be presenting a short film which explores themes of difference and social networking in the post-digital age.
Jack Pudding is a mask to hide behind; a persona that allows the artist to reach beyond the art school dogma of conceptual rigour and continuity of practice, and to have a more playful relationship with material objects and aesthetics. It allows a mutability and playfulness that can’t be found in the dry professionalism of the career artist. Jack is an ‘everyday tourist’, a psychic hobo and a knowing fool. Jack is never sure of anything and never feels fully at home anywhere. Jack is neuro-diverse. Jack is queer. Jack likes to hide in plain sight. He will not be tamed or quantified.
Jack makes ‘work’ but doesn’t work. Jack is a parasite who exists in a para-site – an alter-ego for an alter-world – existing alongside the occupied matrix of everyday life – and yet, at the same time, is the beating heart of everyday life. Jack is indeed the joyous hobbiest who finds clues in the materiality of the readymade. He uses his mutability as strategy for survival; every act becomes a means of being-with an alienating world and of ‘making do’ with loss and melancholy.
Jani (Jez) is a multidisciplinary artist living and working in Southampton. Their work is informed by ecological activism, magic and ritual, their identity as a nonbinary person and their experiences as an immigrant and outlier.
They are interested in exploring the liminal spaces between objects, people, ideas and experiences. Their practice links between small, everyday personal experience, life stories and the global events unfolding around us. Through mixed media art, poetry, writing and installation they explore the way symbols act on us as artists and as audience, prodding us emotionally and forming our ideas about ourselves and the world around us.
Breaking out of binary ideas and allowing fluidity, uncertainty and change in these times by inviting the viewer to feel unsure and to access their intuitive responses to archetypes and symbols. Their current work explores the use of natural and found objects to make sculptural installations and traditional art materials like inks and to form found object prints, exploring themes of time, corrosion, decay and alchemy.
Orlando is a multidisciplinary artist working with photography, video and performance, and frequently adopting the practice of performing for the camera.
Orlando is Italian but has been London-based since 2016. After graduating in Philosophy, they have been working for many years in an Italian bank before quitting to pursue their interest in art. Orlando first took a course in Contemporary Visual Arts at the School for Advanced Training in Modena-IT (2014–2016) and after moving to London, graduated with an MA in Photography (2017-2019) from Central Saint Martins-UAL. Since then they have produced a series of photographs and videos and one live performance showcased in several art festivals and galleries. Orlando has been part of the collective exhibitions Queer Art(ist) Now 2020 ( London), Transitional States 2018 (London-UK, Lincoln-UK, Barcelona–SP, and Bologna-IT) and of SI-Fest OFF 2016, the major independent Italian festival of visual arts.
Hi, I’m Aliya (they/them) aka circalightart. I’m 24 years old and I’m a mixed race, nonbinary, queer, and disabled artist. In the past I have focused on traditional art and poetry, however these days I predominantly make crochet creations such as those on display here.
Regardless of the medium, art has always been a crucial way for me to express myself and my feelings, especially in periods or circumstances where it has been difficult to approach others. The jellyfish/jelly-squishes suspended here today are made as a celebration of queer identities as you can hopefully see in the variety of pride flags I have represented but also as comfort/stimming/fidget items, perfect for squishing in the hand. As a part of my anxiety and suspected neurodivergence, being still has always been challenging for me and having something to fidget with, be that a pen to doodle on paper or my hands or a crochet hook and yarn between my fingers, is a great comfort and focus for me. I was always the one in a lecture theatre jiggling the whole row of seats with my nervous energy.
The act of creating calms me in times of emotional distress and I hope that my creations can provide similar joy and serenity to others!”