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Artist residency to amplify queer voices in celebrating marine heritage

A North East performance poet and illustrator will collaborate with local people to collect and help tell their stories as part of a year-long celebration of the sea.

Lizzie Lovejoy’s work will see them combine visual arts with the written word in a performance and exhibition this November. The exhibition will also showcase art by local people following a series of workshops.

The project, Queer Shores and Seas, has been commissioned by SeaScapes Co/Lab in partnership with Curious Arts and Living History North East, as one element of SeaScapes: Tyne to Tees Shores to Seas, a multi-million-pound marine heritage project funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

 Lizzie’s residency will specifically explore the relationship between the region’s marine heritage and queer culture, with workshops aimed at those who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual + (LGBTQIA+).

Lizzie said:

“The workshops will be primarily story-collecting sessions, with elements of both creative writing and reportage drawing explored by those that take part.

This will lead to the creation of a range of images and a series of poems and everyone that is part of a workshop will have the chance to have the work they produce featured at the exhibition and performance night.” 

Lizzie, 25, who has lived across the Tees Valley and County Durham but is currently based in Newton Aycliffe, said:

“There is freedom in water, and I’ve always existed near rivers, so I write a lot about the water, particularly northern water, and about being by the shoreline.

I’m very much a community practitioner and want to encourage and empower people to be more creative. Many people say to me that they can’t draw, but they often surprise themselves, and everyone’s stories are relevant. I understand more than most that it can be uncomfortable to identify yourself in a certain way, but I want to help people embrace that discomfort through this work, as well as capturing the uniqueness of our northern water.”

Photo: Lizzie Lovejoy and Julie WIlson