Queercircle opens historic LGBTQ+ culture space in London
The free space will exhibit art from the LGBTQ+ community, and provide a space to meet, connect, and organise
image Kemar Reid
words Eve Walker
Queercircle will open the doors to its much-needed new space on 9 June in Greenwich, South East London. Celebrating queer identity and providing a platform for up-and-coming queer artists, the launch fittingly coincides with the 50th anniversary of the first UK Gay Pride march.
The idea was first inspired during the making of Are You Proud in 2016, a documentary which charts the LGBTQ+ movements momentous journey charting the joys and divisions toward equality in the UK. Queercircle founder Ashley Joiner met Andrew Lumsden, a Gay Liberation Front member, during filming. From there, Joiner and Lumsden created the five-day event celebrating queer artists, and across the next few years, worked on making a more permanent, long-term space and experience. Now, Queercicle thankfully has been brought to life.
The purpose-built venue will house a main gallery, a library, and multiple project spaces that make it “less traditional” than a regular museum, according to Queercircle’s founder Ashley Joiner. Instead, it can be more accurately described as “an LGBTQ art space” that breaks down barriers and strives for social change.
Running from 9 June to 8 September 2022 are two exciting exhibitions. In the Main Gallery is ‘Let Me Hold You’ by London-based artist Michaela Yearwood-Dan. Visitors will be welcomed to the space with her curved mural installation, laying the foundations of a safe environment for visitors from the outset. Her stunning ceramic sculptures will make up the rest of the solo exhibition, which reflects on the themes of race, culture, identity and love, resisting binary structures.
The archive exhibition in the library, titled ‘The Queens’ Jubilee’, celebrates the drag queens of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF), who led the first UK Pride march in 1972. Curated by Joiner and 82 year-old activist Stuart Feather, this exhibition explores the history of the GLF, displaying diary entries, newspaper clippings and photography from the 1970s.
During the five-year lease, Queercircle plans to run weekly creative workshops to treat mental health issues, which Joiner explains can help contribute to a “socially prescribed model of healthcare in the UK”. Similar projects have been put in place recently in the UK as alternative therapies are gaining traction, such as the NHS prescribing comedy courses for men at risk of suicide.
Queercircle has hosted a range of workshops and events with artists, curators, writers and community activists since 2016, establishing itself as an integral part of the LGBTQ+ community in the UK. At the heart of the Design District in North Greenwich, the new space will allow them to continue their vital work and create a ground-breaking programme of community focused exhibitions, collaborations, artists residencies, and year-long learning opportunities.