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Friday, 3 March 2017

Never Going Underground Launch

People’s History Museum launched their incredible exhibition Never Going Underground celebrating 50 years of the end to the Sexual Offensives Act. It's open until September so go check it out!
(Lord Mayor Carl Austin-Behan and his husband Simon Austin-Behan)
There is so much to see and enjoy with this exhibition and it’s a testament to the curating of staff and community involvement that have created a range of voices and content revealing so much of our important history.
The most poignant piece in the exhibition for me was seeing the above poster Lesbian and Gays Support the Miner’s poster art for 1985 Pride March event in Hyde park. Not just because of the recent pride march but because on the poster it states '16 not 21'. This made me really emotional because I was born in 1985 and made me remember the entire length of my childhood other people we're campaigning for my rights. 
Before I went to college I came out (feeling particularly sexually curious having just come out) I was relieved to hear that they had just lowered the age of consent to 16 making it acceptable by law to start having sex with other men. It’s kind of crazy to think that they were campaign before I was born and not changed until 2000 when they successfully able to reduce the age of consent for same-sex relations between men to the Sexual Offences (Amendment Act (2000). 
I literally grew up through all those campaigns and changes and was allowed to join in with my friend on our first sexual conquests.
Here is a few snaps when I went around the exhibition. There are fun interactive elements like adding suggestions to their Spotify list of LGBT related tunes and game of frustration which relates to the experiences and challenges of sexual and gender identity. They also give you the opportunity to create your own t-shirt as I modeled- (ta-dah!).
I loved the sheer range of poster art peppered with video of individual accounts of people personal history.
The launch event was so impressive. I was told that over 600 people had accepted the RSVP it certainly felt like there was more. It was really fun to see a lot of active LGBT representatives all under one roof. It was introduced by the Chair of People's History Museum Baroness Jan Royalland opened by Sir Ian McKellen. 

He was very inspiring to listen to you can watch a slice here. Apologies for shaky, wobbly quality! I had a few drinks and I was with some friends but at least you get some of the raw footage. What was particularly striking to hear was the current figures of homeless LGBT people. McKellen said 150 young people were recorded in Manchester last year which sounds incredibly high.
It was all finished off my some glorious songs provided by Manchester Lesbian and Gay Chorus here is another little slice with Something Inside So Strong.
The exhibition is also complemented by Paralle Republic: The Art of Civil Disobedience which is an exhibition of Syrian art and citizen journalism. Conscientious artistic creation is a danger our act in Syria. When, in 2011 , a group of school children were arrested and tortured for writing “Ash-sha’b yurid isquat an-nizam” (“The people want to overthrow the regime”) on the walls         Of Dera’a.
The act sparked renewed Syrian protest and uprising at the Arab spring. As the war rages on and under the weight of this oppression, countless artists, musician and activists were standing up to be seen and heard, dealing with the chaos of war through painting, illustration, photography, film, graffiti and music. The exhibition was curated by Sarah Faraday and Ibrahim Fakhri and eveloped from an exhibition which took place at Fuse Art Space (Bradford) in 2014, and also gratefully acknowledges and builds on the work carried out through the exhibition “Culture in Defiance”, held at Rich Mix in London and the Prince Claus Fund Gallery in Amsterdam, (with thanks to Malu Halasa and Zaher Omareen.)
I particularly loved Khalil Younes who created a series Revolution 2011 using pen and ink portraits of famous martyrs from the  a voice anymore because they were killed, jailed or have fled uprising.
The work is supposed to ‘articulate the emotions of those who don’t have a voice because they were killed, jailed or have fled the country’. The work has totally inspired me and I definitely will be influenced by this work in future images that I make!
 I also really enjoyed spending time looking at this piece by the collective Alshaab Alsori Aref Tarekh.
The collective was created by a fine art student from Damascus University and a young calligrapher from the countryside outside of Hama who made posters for the Arab Spring in Tunisia and Egypt when demonstrations began in their home country of Syria. They were soon joined by other Syrian artists and are now the anonymous fifteen member-strong poster collective known as Alshaab Alsori Aref Tarekh (‘The Syrian People Know Their Way’).

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