LGBTQ+ history in Warwickshire
Commissioned by Warwickshire County Record Office as part of Arts&Heritage Meeting Point Programme
This page contains information about “This, Our Hive Of Voices”, a participatory art project made with Proud Youth between 2021- 2022.
The project was facilitated by artist Lady Kitt and producer Sarah Li.
Proud Youth are group based in Leamington Spa. The group, supported by Warwickshire Pride, is made up of around thirty LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Plus) young people, aged 12-24.
As many regular visitors to the Our Warwickshire website will know, WCRO contains over 3 miles of archives and collections dating back to the 12th century. However, there is currently little LGBTQ+ history in the collection, and what is available is often about the persecution and marginalisation of our community. Proud Youth really wanted the project to be part of changing this for future generations, so the project aimed to offer opportunities to think about lively, fun, engaging ways of telling stories about LGTBQ+ history and contemporary life in Warwickshire.
“Our Hive Of Voices” is an interactive digital installation created as part of the project.
The installation is based around the artwork Lady Kitt and Sarah Li made as part of the project. This artwork is a cabinet or “hive”. It is inspired by Kitt’s thoughts about the Record Office being “like a beehive, with stories flying in, to be cared for by the wonderful, dedicated staff, and back out again to connect with, and through, local communities”.
The hive is an ornately decoupaged, wooden cabinet which opens to reveal a series of hexagonal chambers. In each of these chambers you will find a “Story Scroll”. The story scrolls contain creative responses and research relating to LGBTQ+ history in Warwickshire plus documentation of activities which have taken place as part of the project (for example craft workshops and biscuit making!).
Some of the “Story Scrolls” have been made by LGBTQ+ people currently living in the county, some have been created by Kitt to reflect research and activities carried out over the last year. The project is ongoing, and we invite submissions of story scrolls through 2022. Please see “Get involved” info below.
By navigating the digital installation you can “open” the scrolls to:
· Find information about LGBTQ+ people and communities in county Warwickshire throughout history
· See pictures of, and follow links to, archival documents in Warwickshire County Record Office relating to LGBTQ+ and other hidden histories
· See images of art works made by young people who are members of Proud Youth LGBTQ+ group in Leamington Spa. Some of the art works reflect LGBTQ+ history in the county (and beyond). Some of the artworks document what it is like to be a young LGBTQ+ person in the Warwickshire today.
· Find out more about other creative and historical research Lady Kitt, Sarah Li, researcher James Davidson (https://www.ourwarwickshire.org.uk/content/blog/meeting-point-this-our-hive-of-voices) and members of the Proud Youth Group carried out during the project.
· Find out how to donate your own LGBTQ+ stories, or other “Hidden Histories”, to the project / to Warwickshire County Record Office
· Download printable instructions / templates which you can use to inspire your own “Story Scrolls” / creative activities relating to LGBTQ+ history
Where is the cabinet now?
Kitt and Sarah made the cabinet as a creative way of encouraging LGBTQ+ people to donate items to the Record Office, because staff at the archive had identified a lack of material about and from local LGBTQ+ communities.
Between May- Oct 2022 the cabinet will be on display at various libraries throughout the county, during this time local people are encouraged to add their own Story Scrolls to the cabinet. These will then be collected by Kitt and (if suitable) will be taken into the Record Office archives so futures generations of LGBTQ+ people can find information about their communities in the archives.
If you would like to share a story / information about LGBTQ+ history in Warwickshire you can:
· Post on social media with #OurHiveOfVoices
· Come along to one of the upcoming exhibitions (info and date will be posted on this page)
· Contact Warwickshire County Records Office NOTE Carolyn is there a specific person/ email address to contact?
· Contact project producer Sarah Li at EMAIL with the heading #OurHiveOfVoices
· If you are an LGBTQ+ person living in Warwickshire and want to get involved in/ find out more about the local LGBTQ+ community, please consider visiting Warwickshire Pride website: LINK
LGBTQ+: Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer / Questioning Plus
Queer: Queer can have different meanings depending on the communities/ individuals using it. Some people use the term ‘Queer’ when they don’t identify as heterosexual, or if they don’t identify as cisgendered but they find the terms available too limiting or fraught with connotations that don’t apply to them. ‘Queer’ has been used as a derogatory term and has been reclaimed by some people in the community. However, not everyone in the LGBTQ+ community feels comfortable with the term. https://gaycenter.org/about/lgbtq/
Participatory Art: Participatory art is way of making art as a community or group of people. The final artwork/s have been created by a group of people, usually facilitated by an artist or creative. This way of working is related to community art, socially engaged art and social practice. You can find more information about Kitt’s approach to working in this way here: https://www.ourwarwickshire.org.uk/content/blog/socially-engaged-art-whats-that-then
And info about the wider Social Art movement in the UK here:
Decoupage: is a craft technique where paper is cut and stuck onto objects or furniture.
This virtual exhibition has been created by Art Matters Now.