LGBTQ+ charity Queercircle has nabbed a two-storey space in London’s North Greenwich Design District as a permanent headquarters for its community-focused programme of exhibitions, artist residencies and ‘in conversation’ lectures.
Launched this Pride month in a ‘miniature palazzo‘ designed by David Kohn Architects, the new cultural hub is conceived as a ‘sanctuary’ with a ‘safe and inclusive vibe’, according to Frances Williams, the charity’s learning and participation manager. Spacious and fluid, it incorporates a blank-canvas gallery for rotating exhibitions; a study with rolling desks and deep seating for enjoying a pristine collection of fiction and non-fiction; and Williams’s modular project space, with bay-window views over the area’s landmark architecture.
‘For now we’re finding out who we are by how we use it,’ she says. ‘We prefer a generative way of working, rather than an orthodox approach.’
Leading off the art programme is Let Me Hold You, a bowed mural with jubilant floral abstract by London painter Michaela Yearwood-Dan. Installed over an intense three-and-a-half weeks, the original work incorporates seating to draw viewers into the work. An inscription reads, ‘I believe there’s a big future out there with a lot of beautiful things.’
Queercircle’s founder and director Ashley Joiner likens it to ‘a giant hug for people when they walk in. When I first visited [Michaela] in her studio, she instantly made me feel so welcome. That’s what we wanted to bring to the space.’
The programme, says Joiner, is a catalyst for bringing together the community. Art will inevitably cross over into well-being and culture in a holistic way.
‘In that first studio visit, Michaela and I spoke about our families and their understanding of art,’ he says. ‘It was important for us to create an environment that would appeal to a wider public, with motifs everyone can follow. For those who want to have deeper theoretical conversations, we can have them too.’