Cumbria Crack

LGBT+: Within and Beyond

Bordello Theatre

Lakeland Arts is embarking on a project to uncover the history of Cumbria’s LGBT community.

The stories of LGBT+ people are currently under-represented in Lakeland Arts’ collections.

Curators want that to change and an initial display opening in Kendal marks the start of a long-term project.

LGBT+: Within and Beyond runs from 12 October 2019 until 1 February 2020 at Museum of Lakeland Life & Industry, Kendal, Cumbria.

Dr Rachel Roberts

Dr Rachel Roberts, Curator, said: “Currently we only have a handful of LGBT+ stories and objects in our collections. We want to change this and tell stories that could otherwise be lost.

“This display is the start of a larger project which will explore a range of themes and currently under-represented voices under the collective title of Within and Beyond.”

This initial display brings together existing objects and stories, but does not pretend to give a comprehensive account of LGBT+ history in Cumbria. It aims to invite visitors to help build and diversify perspectives.

The Museum is working with artists-in-residence Bordello Theatre Company – a Queer Theatre Collective originally from Cumbria.

Graham Easterlow, Bordello Theatre Artistic Director said: “I grew up in south Lakes in the 80’s and 90’s and went to school under Section 28. It was a very tough time for the LGBT+ community and even more so for those of us still in school.

“It can be a terrifying world sometimes for people who are different to the norm and in some ways it feels like some parts of the world are still trying to catch up.

“At a time when our society is being rocked by political upheavals, social division and an increasing intolerance and hatred, it is more important then ever to reconnect with the simple message that deep down we are the same.

“It is an amazing thing to come full circle and return to south Lakes to take part in such an exciting opportunity for the LGBT+ community of Cumbria.”

In conjunction with Bordello Theatre, the Museum is inviting people to MOLL-I Salon – a day of entertainment, live music, spoken word, discussion and celebration of all things LGBT+ on Saturday 19 October. This takes place 12-4pm at Museum of Lakeland Life & Industry (which is also often affectionately known as “MOLLI”).

In the evening the MOLL-I Salon runs 5-7pm – a theatrical space for the sharing of thought, story and objects relative to the LGBT+ community.

If you would like to attend MOLL-I Salon, RSVP by 11 October: [email protected]

Andy Newcombe, Bordello Theatre Creative Producer, added: “As artists in residence for LGBT+: Within and Beyond we are excited and honoured to be sharing our queer art throughout the display’s life.

“As queer artists and theatre makers we hope to inspire, engage and entertain attendees through a series of events that we have created in conjunction with MOLLI, taking place over the coming months.

“We hope to embody the themes and purposes of Within and Beyond through performances and events while creatively exploring the wider collection at Lakeland Arts.”

This first display brings together loan objects from across Cumbria and farther afield including from Keswick Museum, Whitehaven and Carlisle Archives, People’s History Museum and London School of Economics.

Items on show in the first display include:

  • Works and letters by Percy Kelly.
  • A poster from the ‘Pits and Perverts” concert in 1984 – a benefit gig organised by the London Lesbian and Gays Support the Miners group. Headlined by Bronski Beat, the concert was signifiant in leading to a political breakthrough for gay rights.
  • Pin badge from the Greenham Common peace camp.
  • Objects relating to best-selling author Hugh Walpole (who lived in Keswick).
  • Stories relating to H Montgomery Hyde who attended Sedbergh School in south Cumbria and eventually wrote a history of gay relationships called The Other Love.
  • The book Jenny Lives with Eric and Martin which was at the route of the section 28 debates and legislation.

Dr Roberts added: “These are fragments of a much bigger story. We want to invite the local community to help us expand our collections and understanding of LGBT+ history and experiences.”

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