Celebrating the solidarity at Gays The Word Bookshop

15 January – 16 June 2018

Curated by Dr Richard Espley & Leila Kassir

Queer Between The Covers is a new exhibition exploring over 250 years of Queer Literature. The exhibition in Convocation Hall, on the 4th floor of Senate House, displays 50 carefully selected works from the collection, showcasing works of satire, autographed manuscripts, illustrated novels and pulp fiction book designs, as well as rare editions of works by famous authors such as Oscar Wilde, WH Auden and Virginia Woolf.

I have been commissioned to create a series of book artworks using some of the books on display for inspiration to draw out the themes, tensions and celebrations of queer literary history.  I have drawn on aspects of historical persecution and oppression in the last 150 years to design and print books with a structure that accentuates the subjects covered in each book.  I wanted the books to be informative and reflective. The books will be delivered and installed by 27th January. In the meantime the exhibition will be displaying work-in-progress and the sketch book I used to record research and developmental ideas.

Work in progress at Senate House Library

There is a seriousness to the experience suffered by Maud Allan and a playfulness to the antics of Djuna Barnes Turkish fold book. Oscar Wilde’s stitched concertina book weaves through ancient Greece and Victorian Britain.  Gay’s the Word book design celebrates collective action and solidarity, think of the bookshop in the film ‘Pride’ and you’ll be on the right track!

Inspired by The Ladies Almanack – Djuna Barnes

The Ladies Almanack by Djuna Barnes is one of the pieces I have chosen to explore. Reading Djuna Barnes for the first time is bewildering and amusing. The design of my artists’ book is informed by the way Barnes sold copies of the almanack on the inside of her cape in the streets of Paris, flinging her cape back to expose an array of beautifully printed ‘Chap Books’.”

Maud Allan

There is also the autobiography of dancer Maud Allan, who sued for libel in 1918, after being accused of representing a German plot to send 47,000 gay men and women to Britain to seduce the population.

You can find the book art  on display outside the Chancellor’s Hall in Senate House, part of the University of London, located just by the British Museum.


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