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Thursday, 13 November 2014

Homotopia: Same-Sex Qulit project visiting Unity Theatre and Museum of Liverpool

I was lucky enough to spend the weekend in Liverpool getting more people to take part in the Same-Sex quilt project. It started with Friday evening at Unity theatre.  I had a station set up and as people waited between performances I got the audience involved in decorating drawings of the MPs that voted in support of Same-Sex Marriage.
It was a really great environment; people were relaxing and talking about the shows and the project. I think the social aspect of the waiting between the events and people being able to enjoy some refreshments really helped people feel comfortable and get involved. 
Lots of people passed on really positive comments about the project and everyone expressed their enjoyment of doing something creative, which many people said they hadn’t done anything crafty in a long time.
I hope the experience awakens their creative side and makes them want to play more with craft in future.
I also had an unexpected visitor, an interviewer! She read the programme and wanted to do a piece on the project I will send out more details of the article when I have them.
This is Joan Burnett a Trustee of Liverpool Pride and the person who helped support me come to and deliver a stall at Liverpool Pride. I’m really pleased she had a chance to make a contribution to the quilt!
The following day I went to the Museum of Liverpool and had a station in front of the April Ashley exhibition which was a part of Homotopia. It’s a fantastic exhibition providing a retrospective of April Ashley MBE. It’s beautifully curated and really inspiring I highly recommend visiting and having an explore. 

It was an incredible day! There were so many people who came by and took part my head was spinning by the end of it.
The staff were really supportive and helpful; they provided foam presentation boards to help display the work. 
This really helped draw more people into take part. I could tell people really responded to having their work shown in the museum. 

They liked adding their signatures as contributing artists and waited as I put their piece on display.

 This is a picture of representatives from the Shropshire Rainbow Film Festival who came for a visit!
This is Gary Everett who is the artistic Director of Homotopia and the person who supported me by finding the venues in Liverpool for me to deliver the workshops! I’m really pleased he came by and took part as well!
I also had a little interview with Homotopia.tv which was very daunting. I was asked how people had reacted to the project and they had reacted really positively which I said in the interview.
Then a few minutes later and a woman said she didn’t want to take part because she thought ‘it was unnatural’. I asked her if she meant marriage and she replied that if men and women don’t procreate we will all die out. I did try to point out that we live in a heavily populated country and globally areas are over populated.
 I asked her why she thought people might be interested in people of the same sex. She replied that she thought we ‘think too much’. I bit my tongue, but I am glad to be accused of thinking too much, rather than not at all.
 It’s a shame to have someone who had such strong prejudices but it is another reminder why it’s important to do this project to promote tolerances and hopefully eventually acceptance!
Anyway over the three days collectively there were over 200 contributions! I was stunned I was hoping just to achieve a hundred so reaching half of the contributions needed in three days is fantastic. 

Monday, 27 October 2014

Homotopia- Miracles of Miracles, I'm taking part!

I’m really excited to be included in the 2014 Homotopia programme titled Mircales of Miracles!

Homotopia is an annual festival celebrating queer art, based in Liverpool. I’ve watched Homotopia grow for years and I’m proper chuffed to be included in their programme.

I’ve been working hard to continue with my same sex marriage quilt project and Homotopia have helped find a couple of places to host the next stage of my ongoing project.

The next stage of the project involves people decorating images of the 396 members of parliament who voted for same sex marriage in July 2013.


 Here is a little snapshot of the templates I’ve been spending the last few month preparing.  All the images were sourced from Goggle searches of the MPs. I’ve been hand drawing  each of these images for over a year. Now I’m finally getting to stage where the images are ready for the public to decorate so that they can then be added to the quilt.


I need lots of help getting them decorated though and I’m actively reaching out to different groups to get them involved. Homotopia have found the first couple of hosts who are going to let me do workshops in their venues. To take part, come to Unity Theatre 7th November 6pm or come to Museum of Liverpool 8th-9th between 10am-5pm to get involved!

The Museum of Liverpool has loads to see and do and Unity Theatre have other performances happening that night including Black Le Gateau Chocolat and PolariSalon featuring Jonathan Harvey. You can also see the Rainbow Jews exhibition so there is plenty to come in to see and do.


If you’re reading this and are a part of a community group and would like me to come over and do a workshop in the future with you please get in touch my address is o.bliss@ymail.com I’d be happy to come to your group!

Sunday, 31 August 2014

#equalityquilt: Day 5

Yesterday was the last day of the residency and it was a blast. There was 70 contributions left to create, to achieve the 254 hexagons that will represent all the MPs that voted against same sex marriage and we made it! Just as the museum closed! I'm really pleased we reached this target - in my mind I would have been happy with achieving 150 contributions but to get all 254 was outstanding. The work will be up until the 14 September if you are around Manchester and want to take a look-please do!
 This would not have been possible without the dedicated support of a LGBT youth North West who brought young people in to help make these remaining messages. People still came by and some of them took part but I think having so many people around the table may have appeared intimating which lead to less of the passers by taking part. There were still young people and groups who weren't phased by the presence of the others. This might be because young people are fearless sometimes especially when an opportunity to get involved in craft takes over. Regarding groups, like this group from France were interested in the project and curious to get involved. 

I think because the size of their group meant they were less intimated by the others. Also I was able to explain it was the last day and their contributions would help me reach the final target. They all appeared to really enjoy it and were taking pictures of themselves with there contributions. They seemed to really enjoy taking part.
 What was great about having the LGBT youth North West team there is that they were able to help create all the additional contributions from twitter. This really helped getting the last 30 contributions together having the time pressure and an end goal really helped to motivate everyone as a group. 
 These are a few of the contributions they all made, I think towards the end they got a little rushed but in a way I like the outcome, they will add to the overall presence of the work. Having access to music and food kept everyone going and a nice informal buzz as we made the final pieces. The work helped us all bond and learn more about each other which was really uplifting.
  This is one contribution I wanted to complete myself by my friend and colleague Clare Andrews. She is pro same sex marriage and Christian. After the previous conversation I had with the mother who was against same sex marriage I really wanted to profile this statement.  Unfortunately the person who completed it also missed out one of the three things when they wrote it, it's missing-faith. I will have to amend it. It should read:  "Three things will last forever- faith, hope and love- and the greatest of these is love" 1 Corinthians 13:13 
 This contribution is just brilliant, it was a twitter contribution from another friend and colleague Davinia Jokhi and the message was created by Catherine O'Donnell who helped out in the afternoon. 
 These were the last standing in the final hour that made it all happen big thanks to them all Catherine, Gordan, Heather and Panda there were also two who were camera shy Sam a Kale but their help was really valuable and deserve recognizing. 
 So here it is, the final outcome all 254 contributions are on the wall. Later in the year I'll be incorporating these images into the quilt it's great to have gone through the week and met so many different people and gain insights to their personality through making these messages together. It's been a really rich and rewarding experience in so many ways. I'm incredibly grateful to Catherine O'Donnell and the public who contributed and voted for me and helped support me go on this journey. I'm indebted to People's History Museum for enabling me to complete this project and it's given me great opportunities to lead on to enable the project to go further. I'm ready to take the project to the next stage and get the public to take part in decorating the 396 MPs that voted for same sex marriage in order to bring all these images together and make this quilt happen!