Bold Mellon on their exhibition Queer Joy

Queer Croydon got to hang out with Bold Mellon and find out more about their exhibition Queer Joy!

What is Bold Mellon, and what inspires you as a collective?

Bold Mellon is an award-nominated multidisciplinary collective dedicated to delivering deliciously dynamic art. We produce theatre, cabaret, scratch nights, live music, club events and host/curate visual art events – providing a platform for emerging queer artists to experiment, collaborate and express themselves!

What motivated you to create Queer Joy? Tell us about this exhibit.

We created this for the community to be supported within and beyond  with all the beautiful variations of Queer Joy! The exhibition includes photography, film, digital art, illustration, painting, sculpture, textiles, sound and more! All by emerging queer artists based in the UK and those working/living in the Borough of Croydon – Showcasing responses to the theme of ‘Queer Joy’ and the parameters within which our society contains it. Following our first iteration of QJ in 2022,  it was amazing to see this all come together at Stanley Arts this year on a bigger scale as part of the Mayor of London’s London Borough of Culture.

How did you choose the contributors and artists for the event?

We did a national open call for submissions of existing artworks from which we curated the exhibit. We also supported five seed commission project proposals from an open call, providing studio space with Turf Projects.

What were your highlights of the shoot?

The day of our ‘Queer Joy: In Conversation’ shoot was an absolutely stunning bubble of QUEER JOY itself. Full of laughter, sharing and COMMUNITY. The connections were so wonderful and the creativity bouncing round the room reflected that. The whole shoot day was a highlight of 2023!

What challenges did you face mounting the exhibition?

The biggest challenge for us was probably organizing and gathering information with so many incredible people involved! Queer Joy has definitely been the biggest Bold Mellon project so far!

In the current political climate, what impact would you like Queer Joy to have?

To bring people together to continue the conversation about how we can collectively facilitate queer joy and its meaning to different members of our community. Championing intersectionality and safe queer spaces! We want people to feel seen, heard and held with Queer Joy in this political climate that acts against us.

At the launch you had a panel discussion with contributors of the Queer Joy film, what was the response to this.

The response to the discussion was one of inspiration and affirmation, there was an overwhelmingly positive and quite emotional community atmosphere. The conversation continued throughout the night following the talk with people taking in the art and chatting to friends and strangers alongside about the intricacies of queer joy.

You took this project to several venues in Croydon – why?

Reaching the local queer community in Croydon was one of our main priorities, especially in areas/venues which are majorly under-funded such as libraries. Our aim was to hold space so people don’t feel they need to venture into Central London to experience queer events. One of our audience members from our ‘Queer Joy: In Words’ event at Purley Library said ‘This is the first time in a decade that I have seen queerness in the place I grew up’ – and that is what we want to bring to the Croydon Borough.

The photos in this article are credited to Bold Mellon.