Blueprints of Hope: Celebrating LGBTQ+ London

1st Mar 2023  -  18th Aug 2023
Octagon Gallery


Exhibition graphic showing the title 'Blueprints of Hope' and exhibition details over a film still showing a group of backlit people in a nightclub setting

Image: Still from 'Will You Dance With Me?', 1984/2014, Derek Jarman and Ron Peck. © Team Pictures Limited/RLP Projects Limited, courtesy Mark Ayres, Derek Jarman and Ron Peck.

About the exhibition

"These venues are not re-opening somewhere else. We are losing them altogether, and for me that is the most alarming. Where will we go?"
Anonymous respondent, UCL Urban Laboratory survey, 2016

London-based collective Gedney Common have curated 'Blueprints of Hope: Celebrating LGBTQ+ London' in response to research by UCL Urban Laboratory (Urban Lab) evidencing a drop of 58% in London's LGBTQ+ venues between 2006 and 2017.

Bringing together the work of libraries, archives, community centres and activist groups, alongside pieces by contemporary artists including Louis Blue Newby, Jakob Rowlinson and Nina Wakeford, Gedney Common present a snapshot of London’s vital queer cityscape, past and present, and illuminate its role in providing a social and cultural lifeline for queer communities.

Since Urban Lab’s research evidenced this drop, many campaigners, businesses, policy-makers and practitioners have worked hard to protect existing places and create new spaces. The Covid-19 pandemic, and the energy and cost of living crises have exacerbated the challenges of gentrification and redevelopment. With injustice, isolation and inequality continuing to be experienced by many, facilities that support LGBTQ+ communities are more crucial than ever.

In his book Queer Premises: LGBTQ+ Venues Since the 1980s, Urban Lab’s Co-Director Ben Campkin argues that the term 'queer infrastructure' captures the diversity, dynamism, adaptation and extension of scenes across different periods, generations and geographical locations - a term to which this exhibition responds.

Gedney Common is a London-based collective devoted to uplifting marginalised voices. It was formed in 2019 by Arthur Carey, Georgia Cherry, Charlotte Flint and Ross Head.

This project has been (partially) funded by the LGBTQ+ Equality Implementation Group (LEIG) Fund. This has allowed Gedney Common to publicly celebrate queer culture at UCL and raise widespread awareness of issues affecting the LGBTQ+ community.

Related events

Above this new tunnel the Market Tavern once stood. Grey concrete outside. Cherry red, dark, sexy, cruisy, inside.
Wednesday 31 May 2023, 21:00-21:45, North Cloisters
Join us for a live performance by exhibiting artist Nina Wakeford as she excavates and embodies LGBTQ+ history and proposes it as part of the new transport infrastructure of London.

Blueprints of Hope: Badge Café Hangout
Friday 2 June 2023, 13:00-16:00, UCL Art Museum
A crafty utopian hangout with Ben Walters, putting old books and mags to queer badgemaking use. Free, friendly, easy, fun.

Gedney Common Curatorial Surgery (event cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances)
Friday 16 June 2023, 14:30-16:30, Object Based Learning Lab
Join the makers of the exhibition for this special curatorial surgery. Hear how the collective Gedney Common used academic research as a catalyst, from exhibition concept to realisation, and chat through your own ideas.

Queer Tours of London: A Mince Through Time
Thursday 10 August, 18:30-19:45, start at Octagon Gallery
Join Dan de la Motte from Queer Tours of London as we shine a light on London’s rich LGBTQ+ history through a creative and life-affirming interactive tour around Bloomsbury.

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