The Gathering Series 3, Episode 2: The Coast is Queer – Garth Gratrix in conversation with Harry Clayton-Wright

Series 3 of The Gathering, a podcast for artists and creatives from Arts Lancashire, continues.

This series is all about exploration, and features recorded conversations led by Lancashire based artists discussing themes and ideas that are important to their practice and the future of their work. In this episode, we invited Blackpool based visual artist and Director of Abingdon Studios, Garth Gratrix, to share what was important about his practice in dialogue with live/performance artist Harry Clayton-Wright.

Titled, The Coast Is Queer, this podcast explores what queer (or queerness is to each artist) and how the pandemic, and the many issues around body politics and inclusion of queer material, has impacted on the ways artists have had to work, collaborate, and take up space. The importance of good networks and friendships is evident in this episode, as Garth and Harry share their numerous collaborative projects and approaches to making work, alongside their shared experience of hailing from and residing on the coast and developing queer leadership in their local arts scene.

As they dive into the nuanced issues facing queer artists in this moment, Garth and Harry consider that an openess to being ‘slippery’ and playful is needed in the enabling of new ideas through commisisoning and funding projects into fruition. They celebrate and share upcoming activity and queer potential on the coast and discuss how we can provide positive working opportunties and safe spaces for queer voices and material to enhance the wider arts offer.

They talk about how they have been funding work independently, through graft and determination, to make change and be part of the change they want to see in the world, and aligning their individual motivations with organisational objectives as part of a strategy to help tackle limiting beliefs and better allyship for future vision and ambition.

A transcript of this episode is available here


Other things Garth and Harry talk about in this episode include:

– How Covid has impacted the work of queer artists.

– What Blackpool queer leadership looks like and is doing currently. – Investing in nuance around notions of ‘queer’.

– How remaining open to unknown personal experiences can give a richer cultural experience and understanding.

– What support needs to be put in place to help and develop queer artists – to be independently ambitious and institutionally connected.

– Approaches and attitudes to creating work, as solo artists, as collaborators, as leaders and members of a marginalised community.

– How queer leadership reiterates the same wants and needs of the arts sector – fair pay, access to spaces to develop new work and continued opportunities to engage with new work and ideas.

– How the artist-led studio became key to artist support and development during Covid.

– Moving back to move forwards. The queer potential and refusal of ‘new-normal’ by the sea.

Links mentioned in this episode:

Brightening Blackpool with arts, craft, tea, cake & tech.