Queerology, a Leeds-based art collective
Luna talks about the reasons for setting up the Queerology art collective and the exhibitions held in Leeds in 2017.
TRANSCRIPTLUNA: Queerology kind of started out of conversations about the 50th anniversary of male homosexuality in England being partially decriminalised, um and how we were going to celebrate that, within the sort of creative scene in particular the visual arts scene, um and a lot of people were just kind of going, 'Ah, Luna will probably do something, Luna will do something'. Numerous people kept saying that over and over again and saying that to very many people, to the point where it just got awkward if I wasn't doing anything. Um, so I started giving it more thought and, um then the stuff with um Pulse had happened, um I ended up just sort of thinking well what what can I do? You know I feel like I want to do something, um and I was like well right, yeah I'm definitely gonna have to do like an exhibition or something, like it’s… what I'm fairly okay at doing is organising exhibitions, um, so yeah I had a few conversations with people about wanting to set up a queer project, um a queer art project, um and yeah it just kind of developed through those conversations with people, about what direction it should take and eventually yeah it became the two exhibitions that were on at Inkwell Arts and Aire Place studios.
Queer visual art isn't really represented in the city. Leeds has gained over the past few years, a much more, um, a much stronger queer performance scene whereas the visual arts scene kind of peaks and troughs, um and particularly with sort of it being a student city, a lot of the students come in and will do um exhibitions and be like 'We're gonna start the queer view art scene' and then that doesn't really happen ‘cause they do one exhibition while they're at uni and then they end up moving away um while they attempt to give it some longevity and it doesn't really quite work. So I was obviously very conscious that Queerology might not be a long term thing and it’s still only [hesitates] a second year, yeah, so yeah we've only done a few years’ worth of worth of stuff really.
INTERVIEWER: Do you want to say a bit more about what the exhibitions in 2017 were like and what the content of them was like?
LUNA: Um so, with those I started primarily thinking about space, um because exhibition space is difficult to come by and, um particularly thinking about accessible space as well, which is how there ended up being Inkwell and Aire Place Studios. Um Inkwell, [are] particularly mental health focused, and work with, um yeah a lot of people with mental health issues and run various art workshops and things um so they wanted a particular focus on mental health so I had conversations with their team about how I'm particularly focusing on mental health within their LGBT+ community er and then Aire Place Studios were much more interested in just platforming trans and non-binary people and realising that um a lot of the exhibitions that would happen around like LGBT History Month are kind of the same three gay guys over and over again, and I love them, they're my friends, but also we have a wealth of um skilled queer artists in Leeds that just never get the chance to have that kind of platform and particularly within arts spaces a lot of them end up working more in DIY punk spaces, so wanting to try and bring a little bit of that as well out of sort of places like Wharf Chambers and into places like Inkwell and Aire Place Studios which, while they're not established white wall galleries, they are still more in the art scene than like a DIY punk bar is.
Um, so yeah Inkwell yeah, there is some really, really interesting stuff in that one, um, stuff about really deep mental health issues, stuff that um directly related to sexuality and to gender, um yeah and we did a nice um panel discussion with that as well one evening, which er was quite a small intimate thing, and we just had yeah two or three queer artists – no two I think it was; just Naomi and JJ um that did it and yeah we talked about their work and their feelings behind a lot of that and sort of the exhibition and the ways in which they work and wanting to make more queer work etc, um which was really, really exciting just to yeah let them have that platform to talk more.
Yeah and then the Aire Place stuff… yeah a bunch of other artists that were doing various things… so there was um audio stuff from spoken word poetry, there was sculpture, there was installation, there was photography, there was um… one of the acts came on and did live tarot readings which was really fun and just had a sort of nice evening for the opening where people were just sort of about and having a nice time and enjoying taking in a lot of the work that yeah people had put in for that in which a lot of them were very, very skilled and some of them really not, like confident enough. And people had never thought to put some of the stuff that they do into more of an art context, which was really great to see how people would respond to that and how the artist then, um responded to that.