Exhibition opens: February 15th – March 31st
Location: 60-62 Hopton Street, Blackfriars, SE1 9JH, London
Artists: Shadi Al-Atallah, Yasmine Akim, Ashton Attzs,
Jonathon Beaver, Llewellyn Mnguni, Matthew Rimmer, Maria Vorobjova
Curated by: Deen Atger
We often present history as something intangible, certain, and trustworthy, but it is vital to remember that it’s actually rather fluid, in movement, and in the making. It didn’t just happen… It was recorded, filed, told, written, rewritten, and it carries the glaze and the biases of the ones who did this.
Very similarly in art history, women, queers and BIPOC seem to have been purposefully left aside. However, when we look at classical paintings from Michelangelo, we are struck by the pronounced queer desires that emanate from the depicted scenes. Via his paintings and many others, we can witness and have tangible proof that those desires have always existed. Art contributes to the making of LGBTQ history and while looking through the glass of art history we can imagine how our queer siblings used to live, love, gather, and were treated in society.
Where the personal is political, our bodies are also political; from what we post on the Internet to everything we type, we become part of history, forever leaving marks of our reality and of the present. Pink Stomping Boots is a show celebrating LGBT History Month with artists who are addressing social and political questions in varied tones, mediums, and colours.
Queer artists and queer art provides guidance in creating new models and new futures of being together. This is very much the case with the seven presented artists, all taking part in the making of queer art history. In their work we can find the recent questions and debates which mark our time. In Ashton Attzs’ work, intersectionality is explored through queer joy and colourful design. Matthew Rimmer works with silicone water sculpture to explore intersex and trans identity supported by hormones and silicones protheses.
Jonathon Beaver’s creative practice reclaims the craft of stitching, with Are you a bit bent mate? They produced a laborious artwork composed of 14,000 stitches.
Photographer Yasmine Akim is known for their documentation of queer nightlife and portraiture of gender non-conformative figures. In recent years they have also documented emblematic political events such as Black Lives Matter and other protests, and their testimonial is a glimpse of History. Shadi Al-Atallah’s painting work explores connections between the Queer ballroom scene and folkloric dance traditions from African Diaspora communities in the Arabian Peninsula.
South African artists Llewellyn Mnguni’s projects Resilience shines the light on people who don’t fit into the typical norm of society, and Maria Vorobjova’s digital tapestry blends digital representation into a physical object, questioning the immateriality and notions of time.
Al-Atallah creates large-scale figurative paintings: the dark and dynamic figures depicted in their mixed-media work are distorted self-portraits of the artist that capture the absurdity of conflicting emotional states. Their work explores the performativity of cathartic spiritual practice by drawing connections between the Queer ballroom scene and folkloric dance traditions from African diasporic communities in the Arabian Peninsula.
Working in rapid motions and strokes, Shadi works fast to avoid their thoughts slipping, contending with their own cognition and memory. Each painting documents a single hazy moment in time, examining the space between the mundane and the spiritual. Shadi makes use of paint to escape from the constraints of language. Painting allows them to invent genderless figures, ones that embody an ambiguity that language rarely grants. This ambiguity is used to question Shadi’s own ideas on gender and sexuality. Obscurity also allows breathing room for the viewer to connect with the artwork.
Black Lives Matter X PRIDE London 2020
Yasmine Akim is a photojournalist and an arts writer based in London, she studied a BA (Hons) in Fine Art Photography at The London College of Communication. Social photography has always been a way for her to understand how to transcend negative boundaries through agency. Her portraits, in essence, are collaborations; they act as a means of pulling back internalised exterior perceptions, in order to find a way back to power through intimacy.
Proud as Peacock, Universe Trans Van, Untitled
Ashton Attzs is a 23-year-old UK based painter and illustrator. Ashton’s work is colourful, fun, bold and joyful. It’s unapologetic in both style and message; celebrating moments of everyday life and what makes us who we are. Ashton’s distinctive and charming characterful people that populate the majority of their paintings and illustrations are representative and inclusive of the endless identities and diverse expressions of the everyday person. Their unique world-building in popping bright hues creates a utopia, where everyone and anyone can step inside to dreamy landscapes and cheerful situations. Ashton’s art covers a range of topics from LGBTQ+ advocacy, visibility, unity, positivity, music and mental health. Their art seeks to empower LGBTQ+ people and people of colour on a global scale where they share their artworks publically in a variety of ways.
Ashton is an experienced creator and has worked for clients such as Adidas, Instagram, Universal Music, Tottenham Hotspurs FC, Disney, Footlocker, Lucy and Yak, Stylist Magazine and more. They have designed t-shirts, prints, billboards, murals, stickers as well as creating bespoke canvas paintings. They also have taught several workshops at The National Gallery and Tate Modern London; including a joy focused painting class for LGBTQ+ people of colour.
Ashton won The Evening Standard Art Prize in 2018 for their painting of transgender swimmers: “Don’t Stay In Ya Lane”. In 2020, Ashton collaborated with Universal Music for the BRIT Awards; creating an exclusive collection of illustrations for the design of the after- party invitations, special-edition prints gifted to Universal Music’s nominees and the immersive installation and designs featured at the event. Ashton is also known for their Community Hearts and Dalmation pride stickers that they created for Instagram in 2020 and are used by people all around the world.
Are you a bit bent mate?
Jonathon is a visual artist, animator and arts educator based in Liverpool. They use textiles, natural and recycled man-made materials in the practice. Current projects have taken on a new line of enquiry- perception- what society’s viewpoint of the LGBTQIA+ community is. Jonathon challenges the notions and stigma of what it is to be an acceptable ‘gay’. Whether to survive day-to-day; we perform and mould ourselves in our jobs, to our families, friends, lovers and the general public. To date, Jonathon has been awarded the 11th CuratorSpace Artist Bursary, became an inaugural artist in residence with Liverpool University Centre for Archive Studies (LUCAS) and has collaborated with Art in Libraries in St Helens and Heart of Glass. In October 2017 to March 2019, one of my large-scale pieces was in the Tales from the City exhibition at The Museum of Liverpool: this work is now in their permanent collection.
Dancer and choreographer Llewellyn Mnguni began training at the age of 14, at the Mmabana Mmabatho Arts Council as a Latin American and Ballroom dance student and continued to compete on a professional level from 1999-2002.
In 2003 he attended the National School of the Arts and thereafter obtained a Dance Teachers Diploma at the University of Cape Town School of Dance School in the year 2010. Mnguni also joined the Mmabana Dance Company as a full time dance teacher and choreographer from 2007-2009. While completing his final year in high school (Grade 12) he performed and choreographed for the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown in 2006 for his work ‘Prozac’ and then the GIPCA Live Arts Festival under the directorship of Jay Pather in 2012. In 2010 he joined the Bovim Ballet company under the directorship of Sean Bovim.
Mnguni has performed with the likes of Celeste Botha and Marlin Zoutman during his time as a company member of New World Dance Theatre. He has collaborated with well-acclaimed artists such as Ahmed Umar for “Tribute to Ali” , an exhibition at the Format gallery in Oslo. He has performed the challenging roles of Odile in Swan Lake, Escamilio in Carmen and Myrtha in Giselle for Dada Masilo’s extensive Asian, European, Canadian and US during 2013-2017, Mnguni also collaborated with visual artist/LGBTI activist Zanele Muholi and Lerato Dumse for a series of exhibitions and site-specific shows during the 2016 Oslo gay pride week. Mnguni has been nominated for a UK National Dance Award for Most Outstanding Modern Male dancer.
He won a Standard Bank Ovation Award for his dance film “Resilience” and recreated it into his first self-curated and directed Live Art Exhibition at the reputable Kalashnikov gallery in Johannesburg.
Sinking into Sight
This sculptural paradigm references the transport of organisms in the aquarium trade, whereby fish and coral are individually bagged in temporary water bodies and sold to consumers. A feeling of containment runs throughout this new body of work, stemming from a comfort in secrecy and personal space that the artist feels relates to his intersexuality and process of concealing his queerness. Matthew continues to be attracted to plastic as a material, and how this may allude to the defining presence of plastic prosthetics in his own body.
Matthew’s practice is concerned with the aesthetic and conceptual ideologies of nature and questioning what can be classified as ‘natural.’ Specifically, asking when human assembled ecosystems and captive environments can be considered nature. In response, Matthew makes succulent, vibrantly coloured sculptures, drawings and paintings that are visually stimulating and invite playful imagination, hinting at figuration while encouraging abstract readings. The feeling of containment that runs through the work alludes to intersex secrecy and an interest in the inherent containment of worlds in painting.
Matthew lives and works in Glasgow, and recent exhibitions include First Outing curated by Queerly Made and Garth Gratrix, as part of UK New Artists Future Producers program, Blackpool 2021, and Air Diving a solo presentation curated by Nell Cardozo and Isabella Shields, 16 Nicholson Street gallery.
Digital Folklore Tapestry
The Digital Folklore Tapestry is woven together from GIFS found on the early Internet community of Geocities. Mostly derided as kitsch – or in the most extreme cases as the end of culture itself – these glittering waterfall backgrounds, bitmapped mushrooms and daisy-chain page dividers were in fact an evolving vernacular, created by users for users. This was a beautiful, important yet deeply misunderstood development in new media.
Early netizens of Geocities followed the same logic as the Wood Wide Web ( The natural mycorrhizal network that allows plants and fungi to grow, fuse and flourish together)by sharing ideas and forging sporadic communities beyond the rigid social structures of the 20th century.
As capitalism degrades the ecological environment around us, it also unravels the bonds between us on an interpersonal level. Recovering these lost relics from the last millennium, the digital folklore tapestry weaves them back together to envision a restored future, a virtual ecosystem of care whose netizens are creators, not products.
Maria Vorobjova is a Slavic Cyber Sorceress and designer based in London. Her practice rectangles the threads of play and care woven between collective joy and online communities, particularly within the realm of early cyberculture. By collecting, constructing and curating with IRL-URL artefacts, she forges boundless dreamscapes and techgnostic utopias.
Deen Atger (born in France) is a trans non-binary art curator and producer based in London. Their work mainly focuses on contemporary and new media art exploring notions of identity, gender and intersectionality at the junction of virtual worlds and technological innovations.
For Deen, art is a vector of dialogue, it is crossed by the story of those who make it, it can be observed as a multidimensional and inclusive manifestation of time and spaces of metamorphosis. This is how he builds his artistic propositions and exhibitions.
They are currently Artistic Programme Curator at Ugly Duck, an experimental creative venue and organisation that supports emerging, underrepresented and minority voices and artists in visual and performing arts.
At the same time, they collaborate with several organisations in East Africa (East African Soul Train) by creating artistic networks and online residences as well as with the magazine Agora Digital Art and the space Gut level in Sheffield.
Curated exhibitions: @Disturbance (2021), Anamorphic Waves, London (2019), (H)akt, London (2018), Real/Virtual, London (2017)
Selected programme: Franko B (2021), Performance Space (2021), Disorder Live Art (2019), Guts Gallery (2019), The Museum of Drug Policy (2018), Art in Flux (2018), Kinetica Art fair (2017)
Exhibition opens: February 15th – March 31st
Location: 60-62 Hopton Street, Blackfriars, SE1 9JH, London