"A highly innovative and creative approach led by Lady Kitt at the Bowes museum sparked not only inspiration but set new peaks of discovery for the group as they connected and diversified the culture around the museum. "
Sofia Barton, Photographer for DGA (lgbtq performance collective) group visit to Bowes
"When we think about drag we think about performance in night clubs.. cabaret bars... the work of Lady Kitt questions what it means to be represented in queer culture and the relationship of queer people in a space "
Ben Haley, DGA member (lgbtq performance collective, co- collaborators on Folded Stories drag take over at Bowes Museum)
Queering Bowes Museum
Hidden stories exist everywhere,
I think they just need “unfolding”. I’m
particularly interested in unfolding
stories in museum collections and
This is a new project experimenting
with creating a series of unfolding
paper sculptures / paper based
performances and interventions.
These aim to
investigate and communicate
lost or ignored experiences, objects,
interpretations and cultures.
I'm delighted to be starting the
project with a commission from
The Bowes Centre as part of the
#Untitled10 project at Bowes
The Bowes project includes:
With a focus on bisexual and gender non conforming people, studying archives, objects & associated texts to find and celebrate queer interpretations and stories relating to the collection
Working alongside local groups, artists, staff, individuals exploring collective identities / cultures and personal stories. Through both formal workshops and informal interactions in the museum and wider area.
Making paper sculptures responding to these. I imagine the sculpture(s) being human sized and unfolding/opening to reveal pop-up scenes / stories. I imagine some of them being wearable. I imagine many of them being fun / funny to look at and interact with
My self and others interacting/experimenting with these sculptures. Some of these interactions will be performative (probably including elements of drag), some won’t. Some will invite participation, some won’t.
I am making a series of short videos (below) and images documenting my research
#Untitled10 2019, Bowes Museum
Opening Oct 10th 2019,
Lady Kitt and DGA performances throughout the day Oct 11th 2019, for more info about the performances click HERE
Title ”Folded Stories: We are Stowaways. Always?” and "Gentleman Josephine and Mr Sappho”
I have a life-long love of Bowes. I also have deep frustrations with the lack of LGBTQ+ interpretation/stories in the collection. During Untitled 10 2019 I’ve used paper sculpting, performance workshops and lots of chatting to explore, share and play with queer interpretations of, and personal stories relating to, Bowes.
These stories are present, yet veiled. Interpretation is coy. The stories are stowaways. They shouldn’t be. They are part of our collective history. To share and celebrate them is to be part of a more equal, more accepting future.
I’ve been particularly curious about James Pradier’s 1848 silver sculpture of Sappho and Josephine Bowes’ performance work in Paris.
Sappho was a 5th century Greek poet who wrote passionate love poems to both women and men. Little is known about her and she has been represented in a wide (and wild) variety of ways through history: from tragic suicidal lesbian to iconic bisexual rebel. For a time, her writing was assumed to be by a man, as it was considered too skilled to have been written by a woman.
Before she married John Bowes, Josephine performed several "breeches roles" (young male characters played by women) during her career. This was not unusual for female performers at the time: it allowed women to showcase a broad range of performance skills (and also, to display their legs in short trousers, which they could not do in restrictive 19th century gowns).
I’ve recorded elements of my processes and experiments in a sketch book and with a series of short videos. I am showing work made from paper (finished and unfinished), photographs and performances. Visitors are invited to take away and share small pieces of the work. Take them proudly out into the world. Sometimes love is still be forced to be a stowaway… but it doesn’t have to be. You can help change that, right now.