(Un)Defining Queer & Manchester Trip

On 12th April we kicked off the PiNC Arts project with a group trip to Manchester. It was a long, rainy, art filled day that brought the group together. We began the day at PiNC scranning cornflakes and bananas ready for the trip, and all bundled in to the bus and set off for Manchester with Sam driving (thanks Sam!).

After many fights about music (type and volume), and the majority of everyone’s trip money spent on easter eggs in the service station, we arrived at the Whitworth. We were excited to see the (Un)Defining Queer Exhibition, which housed a collection of artwork by queer artists.

This is what the Whitworth said about it:

‘Co-led by an intersectional group of people who self-identify as LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and/or questioning, intersex, and asexual), the project sets out to interrogate language, histories, and narratives within the Whitworth’s practice and collections. More specifically, the project and exhibition seek to redress historic omissions that have existed as a result of heteronormative museum practice.’

Floating Mermaids by Pearl Alcock

We spent an hour enjoying all the queer art, all in one place. A big highlight was a David Hockney pencil sketch that I was clearly too excited to take a photo of.

Next was a 40 minute walk over to Afflecks, but before we got to the subculture haven, it absolutely chucked it down and we all got utterly soaked.

Molly & Ro in the rain

Soggy, soaked and tired after our walk, we landed at Afflecks. As a staff team we were excited to take the group to Afflecks, as we knew many hadn’t been before, and it really is a madhouse of anything a young queer kid could want. It’s a mecca for weirdo’s, goths, nerds and just about any subculture you could imagine. Naturally, the group dispersed into the maze of vintage clothes and incense, and we explored the shop for two hours.

Katie, Molly & Eli exploring Afflecks

Several hours later, after money was spent (the LGBTQIA+ Bookshop in there is amazing!) and many pronoun badges were bought, we headed home. Still a little bit damp, but very glad we came.

I think this was the perfect trip to start off this project. Cumbria is a very rural place, and when you live in rural communities and you’re a little bit different it can be very isolating. It feels like there’s nobody who understands you, especially when you’re a young person, who needs a supportive community around them the most. So to be able to take these young people to see art made by people like them, and shops made for them, was very powerful, and I think they’ll remember the trip. In fact, on the drive home on the bus, our very own Ro wrote something that made me cry! So I’m going to insert it here. Many thanks to our funders, the Heritage Fund, for allowing us to go on this trip.

“The queer culture in a big city is like stepping into the future. We wander round the streets, surrounded by the sounds of construction like a jackhammer. We’re lost in the rain on a thick Spring day, as the trams whizz by we turn to cover inside the gracious arms of Afflecks, which beckons us in. Instantly transported into the future, of a hierarchy we want to respect. As we wander around the endless floors, such a colourful maze, the scent of incense around us, the taste of acceptance touches our lips. The money we’ve saved is starting to spin out of the ends of our fingertips a bit too early. Buying quirky t-shirts with shit jokes about the people you love is queer culture to me. In this utopia, where anything goes, every walk of life can be exposed. In places like this we can be cured for a few hours from all the hate of our culture back home. We are finally free from the queer culture of our little city.”

-by Ro Borgia

Pride in North Cumbria - Headquarters

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