I held a series of group-based art research workshops at Rainbow Hub, an LGBTQI+ drop-in space in Brighton, between October – December 2019. During these workshops I shared images from the UK 1984/5 Miners’ Strike, to open up these creative discussions and collaborations with participants.
In the first workshop we looked at images of solidarity during the UK 1984/5 Miners’ Strike, with a focus on marginalised groups, such as Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners’, Black People Support the Miners’ and Women Against Pit Closures. We discussed how these images of solidarity made us feel and then created collages together with the images.
We created these collages on wooden triangles, which we then placed together to make a collective work. When these artworks were pieced together, we noticed how warm and celebratory they felt, we also enjoyed how we had placed them so that they didn’t fit together perfectly. One participant discussed the importance of coming together and showing solidarity, but also recognising everyone’s experiences are different.
During the second workshop we explored zine-making together. Zines are self-published booklets, that are often handmade and photocopied for distribution. Before making zines together we first looked at a selection of queer zines, as well as handmade flyers from the Miners’ Strike, some of which my Grandmother had contributed to. As a group we looked at the similarities between the 80s flyers and zines made today, we noted how powerful it can be for someone to share their voice this way and tell their own story.
I invited Queer Zine Library to visit our third workshop. Queer Zine Library is a DIY roaming zine library in the UK, which collects LGBTQI+ zines and travels them around the UK to queer communities. During the workshop we explored these queer zines, discussed our favourites and created our own.
“The mobility of the library allows the collections to tour, grow, and change, encouraging access outside of traditional library and research settings, putting queer history and experiences in the hands of our communities” (Queer Zine Library, 2020)
Participants were encouraged to shape the direction of the workshops, so for the fourth one they decided we should explore badges and badge-making. We all brought in our own badges to share at the beginning of the session, I shared my family’s badges from the Miners’ Strike as well as other badges that have been passed down to me.
One participant brought a box of badges, she shared ones from being part of the anti-nazi league, ones from her disability activism, anti-diet badges and many more. Another participant shared a badge they wear on their jacket every day of the non-binary flag. Someone else brought a dusty tin full of badges from her life to share with us, badges from her time at Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp, some about supporting your local library, others from her birthdays.
I found sharing and exploring all these badges to be a profound experience, enabling us to share our histories with each other, we then created our own badges through collage and drawings inspired by our conversations.
We continued the theme of badges into the fifth workshop, as some participants had found the badges too small to work on, so I brought in different sized wooden circles for us to work with. We created collages together on these circles drawing on themes from the past workshops.
As a group we decided we wanted to exhibit the artworks we created during the workshops, so we worked together in the last session to curate an exhibition on the walls of Rainbow Hub. One participant mentioned that the exhibition was important, as she felt art can give you a voice, when you feel you don’t have one.
This exhibition was on display at Rainbow Hub from 7th Dec – 14th Dec 2019. You can find more information about this exhibition and the workshops on the projects Instagram and Facebook page.
I would like to thank all of the participants, volunteers, Queer Zine Library and Rainbow Hub.