It was wonderful to see the work of Frances Richards on display again at the Glynn Vivian Gallery in Swansea this weekend. I became aware of her work after the retrospective I visited back in 2019 – see here. This time, just one painting: Metamorphosis, 1967 was the inspiration for three of the works commissioned for a new exhibition, On Your Face x Glynn Vivian: Queer Reflections that introduces queer art and identities in traditionally heteronormative spaces.

Each member of the On Your Face collective selected artworks from Glynn Vivian that they had a natural affinity with when exploring their own queer identity. Their reflections on these selected artworks challenge the current narrative behind that art, and open up a world of contemporary queer Welsh narratives. The project seeks to disrupt the solemn atmosphere of traditional gallery spaces through live performance, installation, workshops and communal art practices. Queer Reflections looks to strip back the layers of historical and contemporary art; to add new stories, new ways of looking and new histories and narratives that will not be lost. It is also a celebration of diverse identity: a positive reframing of conversations surrounding sexuality and gender in the arts.

This piece, New Metamorphosis, by Adam Charlton is a response to “the themes of vulnerability and hiding associated with femininity observed in the original drawing. This drawing contains two central feminine figures and one masculine figure peering over at the main space. I chose the original piece because of the experience I had at the Frances Richards exhibition in 2019. It informed a new journey of deeper introspection and relationship to gender through art.”
Eden Dodd’s Crawling is a mixed media piece of ceramic, wood, and mosaic grout. “The piece’s title directly references the feeling of ‘Dysphoria’ that many Trans people feel, sometimes described as a ‘crawling’ feeling. As a Transfeminine person, the artist had to ‘break to be truly free’ before being reborn. As an artist, Dodd had always been concerned with ‘shattering’ and the re-crystallisation of the self after traumatic experiences. The piece strives for the ‘floral’ connections of the original piece, highlighting the beauty inherent within the chaos of being a person, and more specifically a Trans person, in the contemporary British landscape of widespread transphobia. “

Blooming is a a stop-motion animation film by Efa Blosse Mason. Inspired by Frances Richards “gentle, surreal image of a woman turning into a pink flower, Blooming uses a fleshy plaster-scene to invite the viewer to look at the world from a plant’s eye view. A common homophobic comment is that being queer is ‘unnatural’, despite the opposite being true: scientists are seeing more and more examples of queerness in ecology. This playful film is a celebration of desire and pleasure. “

Caroline Richards interacting with Joshua Jones’ work.

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