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Worthing, West Sussex, goes down in history as Keira Thomas creates the first exhibition at Worthing Museum to showcase and celebrate local LGBTQIA+ artists.

The importance of equality, diversity and inclusion, and for the principles of these fundamental pillars to be recognised and implemented in society, are deep-rooted in my values and beliefs. As a proud lesbian, these values drive my determination and hope to create positive change in the LGBTQIA+ community and other marginalised communities.

With this at the heart of the exhibition, Out of the Artist, which took place from Saturday 27 May to Sunday 10 September 2023, created a safe and accepting space for local, independent LGBTQIA+ artists to creatively share their voice and personal experiences, whilst proudly celebrating the innovative talents of each inspiring artist of various identities and ages. The exhibition is significant and symbolic to the progressive history and future of Worthing, due to being the very first LGBTQIA+ exhibition at Worthing Museum and Art Gallery.

With no strict theme, the name of the exhibition was derived from the importance of each artist having the entire freedom to share the powerful voice that lies within them, in their chosen form or medium. Seventeen artists bravely shared their work – some with whom share their experience of being part of the exhibition, which are voiced below:

Caroline Osella (They/Them)

“Every time I walked past the town hall, I felt safe and happy to know that I’m included, supported and actively welcomed by our council, museum and arts spaces. Being part of the exhibition was excellent, for several reasons. I got pushed towards actually doing something that I’d been thinking about for ages but not got round to – every creative person needs a deadline! Then, I got to find out about other LGBTQI+ artists in the area – every creative needs a community! The opening event was a very beautiful moment of feeling connected, supported and unafraid. I hope we do more stuff like this in Worthing. It gave strength and joy to the artists, and to the many people who popped in to see the work, and I feel that this exhibition has sent a clear message out to Worthing, that we are accepted and acceptable and there is no space for hate in the town.”

Gil Mualem-Doron (He/Him)

“Worthing hasn’t been known for queer art scene or even community. I feel that this exhibition really made a change in that perception. In my other hat as the creative director of the Socially Engaged Art Salon in Brighton, an art organisation that works mainly with the LGBTQ+ community – we are now looking into future collaborations with the wonderful artists from Out of the Artist exhibition.” 

Amelia ‘Ace’ Armande (They/Them)

“Gallery events like this are invaluable for queer artists. They are a space where they can bring their work fearlessly and with no caveats, and a space where they can connect with other LGBTQ+ artists and build community.”

Joanna Barr (She/Her)

“Having the opportunity to be part of diversity at its best was inspiring and empowered me to share my expressions through art. Various artwork from the local LGBTQIA+ community created a world of creativity for hidden and established artists. I will never forget this wonderful experience. Long may it continue.”

Other artists include:Keira Thomas (She/Her); Bryony May (They/Them); Robert Ryan (He Him); Emma Clowsley (She/Her); Stephanie Young (She/Her); Kym Kovary; Kai Hilton (He/Him); Karen Palzeaird (She/Her); Helen Bedding (She/Her); Mars Chicca (She/Her/They/Them); Leoni Thomas (She/Her); Toria Lloyd (They/Them); LG (She/Her).     

Review by Hannah Kane (Visitor to the Exhibition) 

The exhibition was also positively received by members of the public, including Hannah (She/Her), who is an Analytical Chemist professional and a valued member of the LGBTQ+ Community of Worthing Facebook group, where the majority of our artists are also members. Hannah shares her personal experience as a visitor to the exhibition:

Hannah Kane reviewed her experience of Out of the Artist

“As a queer person who had recently moved to Worthing, I wasn’t sure what to expect from its museum and art gallery. However, I was pleasantly surprised when I saw posters around town for the Out of the Artist exhibition. Walking into this exhibition was a visual feast; with a chaotic combination of colours and mixed media set against a white backdrop. The difference between each neighbouring work of art felt like an appropriate representation of the LGBTQ+ community, considering we are often referred to under a collective umbrella of stereotypes whilst in reality we are all individuals with our own tastes and styles. Bold digital art framed next to prints on fabric floating down from the ceiling beautifully showcased the unique talents of each artist. 

Alongside the beautiful artwork were the artist’s depictions of their personal experiences as part of the LGBTQ+ community, which was eye-opening. This allowed a deeper understanding of the inspiration behind each piece of art and made the exhibition feel more personal. I was also lucky enough to be able to attend some of Amelia Armande’s storytelling events, in which they told the captivating stories that their art pieces were based on. This interactive element was an insight to the different forms that art can be presented in. This was a great addition to the exhibition. Overall, this exhibition was a beautiful expression of queer life, struggles and triumphs. Keira did an excellent job at creating an inclusive and inspiring space. I would love to see other similar exhibitions at Worthing Museum in the future.”

Hopes for the Future 

The LGBTQIA+ art scene in Worthing is growing, and I am so pleased to have played a significant part in this. I am unbelievably proud of the hard-working artists and what the exhibition has achieved. The voices of our artists have been seen and heard, which will hopefully empower others from the LGBTQIA+ community and other marginalised communities, to share their voice in whatever way feels right for them. 

The support and positive feedback from Worthing Museum and Art Gallery, as well as from family, friends, colleagues, and members of the community, has meant so much. This experience has been a highlight of 2023, and its journey will be a memory that I will always treasure. 

My hope is for there to be further progress of a diverse range of voices and representation of the LGBTQIA+ community, in Worthing and in the world at large, so that we can live in a society that celebrates individual differences and allows people to be undeniably and unapologetically their true and authentic self – because that is the most beautiful creation of all. 

Review by Keira Thomas (Exhibition Creator, Coordinator and Poet / Writer for Out News Global).

Including a review by Hannah Kane (Visitor to the Exhibition).

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Keira Thomas

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