As I sat at a desk in my class close to a month ago, typing like a passionate sailor who sets sail on words, I felt bogged down mentally. It was not the assignment, for I had chosen a subject matter that I enjoyed very much. Neither was it about mental health issues, though they did have some role to play in a state of angst and stress that was plaguing me profusely. The problem more-so was that the criteria asked me to write strictly a persuasive article with a word limit and deadlines. I know it’s a given for academic pieces to be restrictive, but I want to put nothing but whatever comes out of my heart into this so I can happily say I documented something authentic to me that didn’t need to result in a grade or a particular marking.
As I now sit at my own computer desk under a light which seems to pierce the corner of my cornea whenever it chooses, I want to reflect on something that I want to describe more enthusiastically and romantically. I want to talk about the New Farm MELT Queer Arts Exhibition, for it was not only the pinnacle of the potential of Brisbane artisan collaboration, it was a figure of great inspiration to me as a young queer artist who hopes to make it into freelance.
As I arrived in Fortitude Valley, taking the bus to New Farm and dropping myself off, with a garden in between me and the Brisbane Powerhouse, I felt inspired to put on my earphones and play Shuffle by Bombay Bicycle Club as I let the feelings of curiousity and interest protrude my senses as I took in a new environment. As the wind blew past my cheeks, I could feel as my heart bulged with anticipation to see new artwork in new places.
I walked into the doors of the exhibit, lost as to where a convention there never existed was and I happened to gaze upon the archive of work by artists, writers and activists I knew as acquaintances, friends and familiar names. It was the comic collection curated by my friend Phoebe Ayscough, who is also a Griffith University Animation alumni.
I took out a notebook granted by my mother, full of feminist phrases and quotes and began to write ecstatically of details of work, about how some lines were pixeled and how Eastern culture influenced the meanings. Granted, I was partially motivated by that looming English assignment but for a significant part of me I wanted to bask in pictures and media that drew me to the heart and idea of community.
The pieces shown in the MELT Queer Comics Exhibit demonstrate the explicit process of queer euphoria by having the main femme couple explore cultures and events through history which empower and have allowed minorities to be as represented in society as they are today. This is exemplified in the second comic, with the inclusion of Aboriginal tribes (pre-Stolen Generation living), the Gay Liberation Marches (1970s) and the Chinese artefacts placed in the room of the main character.
There is also the concept of turning ancient moments of heteronormativity into a flourished moment of queer relevance.
I also wrote of Marianna Learmonth’s work:
Learmonth’s Collections works divulge into the sensations that helped towards her realisation to being a queer woman. These include smelling incenses sitting in her grandmother’s room and reflections of queerness as a holistic experience.
I got to see the work of another Gold Coast artist like me, who has his work shown — Tim Delaney! His work normally focusses to the sky, to symbolise his hopes for the future for society and himself. He has a brilliant comic called Sunsets and Sodas, which you can get here! I want to be his friend but apparently he’s a very shy person so I’m too scared to interrupt him. His hair is cool, his art is cool, his characters are cool, his qualifications are cool — he’s just a super cool guy.
As I went off outside the comics exhibition, my friend Wolfram Young (who has helped with the Brisbane Writers’ Festival and creates the zine series Queer Content) came up to me from absolutely nowhere! It was a delight to see them again – and as we talked about the works, a man came along who just so happened to be someone who manages the Queer Reading clubs Wolfram attends. I want(ed) to go to them but I had (and have) no real memory of where the New Farm Library was as someone who is more familiar with South Bank, South Brisbane and Central Brisbane.
Some things that came up were the use of the venue for MELT, and how different areas would have made things more intriguing. Also, Wolfram said how they and Phoebe were wanting to bring me along to the exhibiton so I could display my work next to Carlo Angelo (professional retail auntie) and Anna Pan. However, my age factored in to me not having the opportunity to apply, as you have to be eighteen or above to do so. It was quite unfortunate, but Wolfram suggested some other exhibitions I could produce art for, which I was (an am) perfectly down with!
After some time both the man and Wolfram had to part ways with me. One image of me dabbing with a garbage bin later, they vanished.
After thirty minutes, I realised I forgot to give Wolfram the sketchbook copies which I was going to give them before they left for Melbourne. Yikes, buddy.
The hours that I spent at MELT were really enjoyable, and if I were to exclude the awkward moments with the man at the information desk because I wanted to buy any of the works (which were not available for purchase), it was an absolute pleasure to see works that reflected the kind of work and genius that I wish to add to my works as I get older. Taking everything added a sense of leisureness to me that I am not alone as a creator who is a person of colour and is gender nonconforming. It helped me feel grounded and I’m glad that we are seeing a rise of chances for LGBTQ people to show they exist through visual and creative mediums.
Also, below is an edit Wolfram sent me the day after we met at MELT. I’d like this carved into my gravestone, I love you and thank you very much.