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Qtopia Sydney announces curatorial team

December 19, 2022

Qtopia Sydney has secured the expertise of Queer curators, artists and archivists Jacqui North and Liz Bradshaw who will lead the exhibitions at The Bandstand in Green Park and The Red Room in National Art School opening on Friday 17 February 2023, to coincide with the opening of Sydney WorldPride 2023.

The exhibitions will be gathering places that present Queer, trans and gender diverse contemporary culture in context, introducing the vision of a future Sydney LGBTQIA+ Museum.

The images and stories will invite identification, reflection, and participation, celebrating those who fought for the rights of people in the LGBTQIA+ community, the history and activism of Mardi Gras since 1978, the old glamour and excitement of Oxford Street and Kings Cross, the evolution of the communities, and the voices and exuberance of a new generation.
“We are working quietly and quickly to create two exhibitions that will serve as community hubs, creating welcoming open spaces for our communities, for reflection and celebration,” enthused Liz and Jacqui.

Museum Experience Designer and Curator for the Green Park Bandstand Jacqui North will utilise her 25 years of experience as filmmaker and 12 years curating archival content and managing festivals with the National Film and Sound Archive, as well as her lived experience.

“Immersive contemporary installations will bring our creative, complex stories and histories to life,” said Jacqui.
Coming onto Oxford Street at age 16 in 1984, Jacqui was queer when it was just being legalised.

“I found my kin in the Exchange, Patches, at Wicked Women, Jamie and Vanessa parties, Phoenix, Kooky, Bad Dog and Extra Dirty, dancing to Gemma, Steven Alkins, Ben Drayton, Mandy Rollins and Feisty.”

“Living in inner city Sydney was much cheaper then, the golden age of Oxford Street, had great diversity with micro-businesses, share housing and free higher education, but it was also dangerous. Thugs and police violence were a tragic and common issue The Green Park Bandstand installation will tell a story of the geographical area in which those places sit and the impact of both the journey and obstacles that the Queer Community has both faced and overcome across the decades.

“We will honour our relationships forged on dance floors, on the streets rallying for human rights and facing HIV together,” she continued.

Liz Bradshaw arrived on Oxford Street in 1987, when HIV/AIDS activism was the urgent political cause within the communities, coming out and of age in clubs and parties like Wicked Women and Sex Subculture.

An artist and curator whose formative years were deeply influenced by the cultural activism of people like David McDiarmid, and the expansive years of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, Liz said “It is a privilege to work on these stories of our political and cultural history and contribute to the project of a LGBTQI Museum for Sydney.”

Liz will lead the curation of 17S in collaboration with Jacqui, providing a snapshot of Ward 17 South of St Vincent’s Hospital, the first dedicated HIV/AIDS care and treatment centre in Australia.

The installation will be a moving set of vignettes, amplifying the voices of those who were there, and will include interviews, images, and objects from the St Vincent’s Hospital Collection. It will offer a glimpse of how the community faced HIV and the Sydney response that was internationally ground-breaking in treatment, care, activism, and education. It is testimony to the community support, love, and grief of the time, of which Ward 17 South was the heart.

Qtopia Sydney CEO Greg Fisher said, “We are thrilled to have the skills and expertise of Jacqui and Liz to curate our inaugural exhibitions.

“The Board felt strongly that there needed to be a presence for World Pride 2023, with Qtopia Sydney emerging as the legacy of this wonderful international event, and we are intent on growing our introductory location into larger premises and expanding our offerings in line with community and historian input.

”Post these exhibitions, with the support of the Board, the curatorial team will be able to work at a slower pace with greater levels of consultation. We are conscious that everyone is busy – it’s like the creative Olympics with over 5,000 artists employed and creating Sydney World Pride 2023.

“Our next phase will include open invitations to artists, creatives, and historians and we are reinforcing our invitation to the community to get involved – provide suggestions about would what you would like to experience at Qtopia Sydney in the future, volunteer and visit the Museum when it opens,” Greg concluded.

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