Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery celebrates diversity for Pride month

BRAG-Patrick-Lester-Bundy-R.-Bear-2018-digital-print-on-paperJoin the celebration of diversity and inclusivity this June as Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery toasts Pride month with an exhibition, opening night party, workshops and more.

Pride month, held annually in June, is internationally recognised as a time to celebrate and commemorate the long struggle for equality and civil rights for members of the LGBTQI+ community.

The Gallery’s program provides a range of activities for the whole community and aims to create a welcoming environment to encourage discussion and inclusivity.

Council’s Arts, Heritage and Asset Management portfolio spokesperson Councillor John Learmonth said the arts had an important role to play in fostering an inclusive community.

“Taking part in collaborative artistic activities can provide a way to break down barriers between different parts of the community,” he said.

“When we get together for a fun night of trivia or a drawing activity, we create shared experiences that help us to build understanding and empathy.

“The program centres around the exhibition, The Closet, which highlights a diversity of voices and experiences from the LGBTQI+ community,” said Councillor Learmonth

Exhibition curator and arts writer Carrie McCarthy said the 10 artists included in The Closet span cultures, generations and geographical locations, but their works all share common elements.

Artists featured in The Closet include James Barth, Troy-Anthony Baylis, Jorge M. Brito, Courtney Coombs, Easton Dunne, James Gleeson, Aaron Hoffman, Patrick Lester, Peter Waples-Crowe and William Yang.

“All of the artists are making work that speaks to the experience of growing up in very restrictive or conservative situations, and learning to cope when you sit outside the margins of what might be considered “normal” or standard,” said Carrie.

“They’re critical, triumphant, political and deeply personal, and within each one there runs a thread of resistance, resilience and pride, even if that wasn’t necessarily the intention of the artist.”

The exhibition came about as a result of a request from the local LGBTQI+ community to see more content and representation in the Gallery programming, which Carrie said showed a clear need for a safe space where Queer people’s experiences can be shared and reflected back.

“It’s vital that we acknowledge the diversity of experiences within the Queer community, and the often traumatic histories LGBTQI+ people carry,” she said.

“But it’s equally important to highlight the multitude of ways LGBTQI+ people learn to survive and thrive despite historical and contemporary examples of homophobia.”

“I hope that, as a result, Queer people in the region feel a deeper sense of belonging, and that they’ve been seen and heard,” said Carrie.

In addition to supporting the local LGBTQI+ community, Carrie said exhibitions like The Closet can help the broader community find connections across gaps in the understanding of each other.

“I hope the exhibition educates and encourages positive conversations, and leads to an annual embracing of Queer culture, because without the many contributions of the LGBTQI+ community, the world would be a very grey place!” she said.

The Closet opens on Saturday 1 June with a free artist panel and curator’s talk at 4.00pm, followed by an opening night celebration for the whole community from 5.30pm. For more information, visit: www.artsbundaberg.com.au for details.

Image: Patrick Lester, Bundy R. Bear, 2018, digital print on paper – courtesy of Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery

Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery Pride month events:

The Closet
Gallery 2 – Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery, 1 Barolin Street, Bundaberg
Exhibition: 1 – 30 June 2024
Artist Panel and Curator’s Talk: Saturday 1 June – 4.00 pm
Opening event: Saturday 1 June – 5.30 pm
Free entry

Arts Trivia Night
This fun and entertaining trivia night will test participants arts, literature and film knowledge, set in the inspirational surrounds of the POSTWORLD exhibition. Hosted by Just 4 Fun Entertainment at the Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery on Friday 7 June 2024 (5.30pm for 6.00 pm start).

Creative Crowd: Draw on the Floor
A drawing workshop with a twist, which will see participants cover the Gallery floor with their colourful drawings, inspired by fantastically costumed models at the Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery on Saturday 15 June 2024 (5.30pm to 8.00pm).

Pride in the Park
Pop up art session during school holidays that will celebrate all the colours of the rainbow with a host of wild and wonderful art workshops for young art lovers and their families at Gallery Park on Saturday 22 June 2024 (11.00 am to 1.00pm).