Historically public art collections have been presented in a certain way. White-washed by a straight, ableist, middle-class, male gaze. The presentation a product of bias across generations of collectors, donors, curators and directors. People were marginalised; their stories were suppressed and hidden in plain sight. This has led to public collections seemingly not representing all facets of contemporary society.
In order to address this issue, and better reflect the people of Walsall today, over the next three years a commitment has been made to ensure more diverse narratives are embedded into our Collections displays.
To begin this initiative, Here&Queer has been co-produced with members of the LGBTQ+ community. Community members have had the opportunity to take ownership of the Collections and the stories they tell, re-interpreting works from a queer perspective, and increasing the visibility of queer lives. The steering group explored both the Garman Ryan Collection permanent displays on Floors 1&2, and also delved into our Collections Store and found works they connected with in our Permanent Collection.
This project aims to show there is no one definitive queer experience, just as there is no one straight experience, we are all complex and multi-faceted human beings and we hope that the displays give the opportunity for people to gain new insights into works in our Collections and help visitors begin to also connect with works on an individual personal level.
While we can’t ever claim to fully represent everyone, we endeavour for our Collections to connect with as wide a range of experiences as possible and to permanently embed visible change and representation into the displays, allowing different communities to feel a sense of ownership, of belonging, of being seen and being celebrated.
Should you be interested in exploring areas around class, disability or race in connection with our Collections in future iterations of the Embedding Diversity project contact: Julie Brown, Collections Curator email@example.com
Thursday 4 August 6-7pm via Zoom
Join LGBTQ+ panel members for an accessible introduction and learn how the project came together
Saturday 20 August, 11am-3pm Strike a Pose! family workshop. Make your own rainbow figurines using plasticine with artist Rob Conway.
Saturday 27 August in celebration of Walsall Pride
11am-3pm Follow the Rainbow Heart Road family workshop, creating a celebratory trail through the Gallery in honour of the Here&Queer exhibition and Walsall Pride with artist Yasmin Agilah-Hood.
Alex Billingham, artist and LGBTQ+ community panel member, will be doing a pop-up performance throughout the day on our Roof Terrace, in response to their chosen work in Here&Queer.
2pm In-conversation event with artist Michael Petry, who will reflect on the response to his 2004 exhibition in Walsall and the Here&Queer project with LGBTQ+ panel members. How far have we come in the last 20 years?
3pm Art in an Emergency panel discussion around artists’ responses to significant social and political events, chaired by LGBTQ+ panel member Hope Talbot
Friday 23 September 12-4pm
As part of the national Art History Festival Julie Brown and Jon Sleigh will discuss the project and the wider context of LGBTQ+ representation in Collections with invited guests.
Saturday 26 November 2pm
Curator’s Tour of Here&Queer
For further information on the exhibition of events programme contact our Collections Curator Julie by email firstname.lastname@example.org