Beautiful new works for queer timɘs school prints

Last year saw the incredible 10 anniversary mini-season for the play The Gospel According to Jesus, Queen of Heaven by acclaimed playwright Jo Clifford. The season included performances of the work by Jo, the Brazilian translation with Renata Carvalho and the premier of Untitled (2009), a new commission from Nelly Kelly. GoMA was excited to be involved in the mini-season- having supported the original development and reading of the play in 2009 for sh[OUT] – through the commissioning of new work for the collection as part of the queer timɘs school prints series. queer timɘs school prints is a conceptual artwork originally commissioned from the artist, curator and educator Jason E Bowman, with the first iteration of prints now in Glasgow Museums’ collection.

Following the performances, talks and events as part of the mini-season, a roundtable discussion was held at GoMA. From this discussion an artist brief and call out was put together by the cast of Untitled 2009 and representatives from Queen Jesus Productions UK and Brazil. We were also super excited to select Nat Walpole as the artist from this call out. They submitted a considered approach to the brief and the selection of their work resonated with discussions held in the queer times school in 2018 – so was a perfect choice.

Nat proposed a comic strip ‘following character whose identities intersect across the borders of gender and sexuality … using layers to explore different versions of oneself … the overlapping colours and symbols demonstrating the ways people navigate the world, the inner realities, their bodies and the prejudices they encounter.’ They were able to access the conversations from the mini-season and roundtable discussion and will produce the poignant and beautiful work below as a risograph edition for queer timɘs school prints. A print from the edition will enter the collection as part of this work, along with two others – one for the set that Glasgow City Council Education department use in secondary schools and the other for Glasgow Museums Learning, who have a set that schools can borrow.

Shifting Masks, 2019 Nat Walpole © and courtesy the artist
Shifting Masks 2020
Nat Walpole
© and courtesy the artist

“ This project has been something that means a lot for me artistically and personally, it is the first time I have made work examining my own history in this way; it helped me understand things I had left unexamined, and reach back and speak to a younger version of myself.

I’m really grateful to be part of this project with so many amazing artists. I hope that the children who need to see these works will, and they can know that there are people waiting to accept and care for them. ”

Nat Walpole, April 2020

We were incredibly grateful to everyone involved in the 10 anniversary mini-season for working with us and further discussions with Queen Jesus Productions led to a decision to ask Tiu Makkonen, who documented the programme, if she would be interested in proposing a photograph from the documentation for queer timɘs school prints as well. We were delighted when she agreed and through a conversation with both the UK and Brazilian Queen Jesus teams decided on the photograph below which captures the radiant Jo Clifford and Renata Carvalho in the Tron Theatre where it all began over 10 years ago.

' Renata Carvalho & Jo Clifford, in The Gospel According to Jesus, Queen of Heaven, 2019, Tiu Makkonen' digital c-print © and courtesy the artist
Renata Carvalho & Jo Clifford, in The Gospel According to Jesus, Queen of Heaven 2019
Tiu Makkonen
Digital c-print
© and courtesy the artist

” As a photographer, my work is all about queer validation. Whether working on a personal fine art portrait series or helping document others’ events and performances, I get such tremendous joy from photographing queer and LGBTI+ life in Scotland. Every person I meet, and every artist creating important work deserves to be documented, raised up, seen – remembered. I am honoured every time someone chooses me for the task.
So when I was asked to photograph the mini season of Queen Jesus, I knew the images created would not only be a document of what happened, but be culturally significant – because the plays are culturally significant. And when the curtain has closed, photographs will be one of the only ways to visually revisit those moments of queer empowerment and love that unfolded on stage. For GOMA to choose a documentary image from the week for their collection is fantastic, as it will carry the message of the plays far into the future. We chose an image together that we felt really distilled the spirit that both Jo and Renata bring to their respective versions of Jo’s original play, while remaining true to the universal themes of Queen Jesus. I am also grateful to be recognised like this for my long-standing photography work with the Scottish LGBTI+ community. It gives me hope that what I am doing is important, and emboldens me to carry on. ”

Tiu Makkonen, April 2020

As a museums service we are absolutely thrilled with both of these wonderful prints coming into the collection – and the sets for schools. These two works specifically make visible trans and non-binary lives within the commission and mark a key anniversary both for the play The Gospel According to Jesus, Queen of Heaven, but also GoMA and the programme sh[OUT] from 2009. The queer timɘs school prints work commissioned from Jason E Bowman continues to be an important work for Glasgow Museums and we are excited that we will be working with the Edwin Morgan Trust to mark the poet’s centenary this year along with the 40 anniversary of decriminalisation of homosexuality in Scotland … more news on that in another post.

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