A must-see art exhibition has launched in Manchester to kick start celebrations for the LGBTQIA+ community in the run up to PRIDE 2021.
The exhibition, titled ‘New Normal’, will showcase 17 LGBTQIA+ artists and their talents, reflecting their personal journey, sexual awakening, struggles and artistic ambition.
The artwork was revealed at an exclusive launch night on 13 August at Hilton House, with pre-event hospitality provided at mental health and wellbeing cafe Feel Good Club.
The inspirational creations will now remain on display at Hilton House for the public to enjoy Monday – Friday 10am – 4pm until 10 September.
The non-funded gallery has been curated by Johnny Villanueva and Amy Victoria Marsh and aims to provide greater visibility for all LGBTQIA+ people, not just artists, to celebrate their identity as members of the LGBTQIA+ community.
The theme concentrates on life changing through COVID and gay rights. It is a celebration of identity through expression of art and a unity of LGBTQIA+ artists keeping the momentum of making a stand for equality.
Each piece of art will be available to buy, with a percentage of each sale, along with any donations, going to the LGBT Foundation. The national charity, which is headquartered in Manchester, delivers vital advice, support and information services to over 640,000 people each year.
Artists featuring in the exhibition include ceramicist Alex Sickling, illustrator Amy Victoria Marsh, photographer Sarah Jenny Johnson and painter Kyle Scott Lawson.
Amy said: “My normal has always been gay. It runs in my family and throughout my upbringing; my dad was gay, my high school best friends were gay, I’m gay. My life was dipped in queer experiences, drag shows and holding my girlfriend’s hand in public.
“It was mostly positive for me and I know how lucky I am for that. To be curating this exhibition in my city, surrounded by brilliant queer artists and raising money for the LGBT Foundation is a privilege. No one really knows what the new normal is, so this is our chance to try and shape it into whatever we want.”
The exhibit will celebrate identity through expressions of different art forms and will feature ceramicists, illustrators, photographers, painters, and graphic designers all reflecting on their personal journey and sharing their struggles and successes. Information on the art will be displayed next to each piece.
Johnny added: “The phrase ‘new normal’ has been bandied around a lot recently during the global pandemic. We want to make use of this phrase to express the queer community’s integration into what was exclusively a binary society, as the New Normal. The LGBQTIA+ group has always been normal to ourselves but, from an outside perspective, they may have different ways of understanding and respecting people within it.
“We are the normal that people never used speak of, we are queer and we have always been here, and will never go anywhere. We are the New Normal.”
Kiera Lawlor Skillen, one of Feel Good Club’s founders, said: “‘We’re so proud to be supporting the New Normal exhibition. As a gay-owned business, we know all too well how important it is to highlight voices, makers and creatives in the LGBTQ+ community and we love to see these events happening, especially in the same building as our space.”
Howard Lord, managing director of CERT property which owns Hilton House, said: “We are extremely proud to host this incredible exhibition, which represents everything we stand for at CERT. We pride ourselves on providing inclusive, inspirational and engaging spaces for everyone and creating valued and thriving communities for people to feel part of.
“We always focus on the people aspect of places, and this is a phenomenal opportunity for us all to come together and celebrate the fantastic artists in our great city who are passionately sharing their own personal experiences to entertain and educate the wider community.
“Everyone has worked extremely hard to put this exhibition together and we can guarantee it’s a must-see for anyone who can take the time to come and experience it for themselves.”
The launch event is sponsored by Hilton House, Feel Good Club, Hawkins\Brown, Shindigger, Fred Aldous, Le Social Wine, and HFL Building Solutions.
Liv Brett-Parr, head of operations at Studio North and representative for the LGBT+ Group at Hawkins\Brown, said: “Hawkins\Brown is proud to be part of a community that respects and celebrates diversity and shares our commitment to create places that are open and inclusive without exception.
“We are delighted to be able to support the New Normal exhibition through sponsorship and collaboration and, in doing so, contribute to the spirit of collective creativity and togetherness at Hilton House.”
Members of the public are invited to Hilton House to view the incredible artwork from 16 August to 10 September. The gallery will be open between 10am – 4pm Monday to Friday.