Last month I was part of Free Range's Photography Week, at the Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane.
I arrived back in London with about a day to spare before we had to start setting up - building walls, painting surfaces, hanging work. The Truman Brewery is a warehouse-like blank canvas, with giant rooms you can build smaller rooms into, and I actually really enjoy this part of the show process. There's something about curating a space down to the actual physical dimensions of it, building an environment around the work, rather than making the work fit the environment.
I'd hand printed these photographs in the darkroom, using an improvised easel made from cardboard while I projected the enlarger onto the floor, since the paper was too big for a standard setup. Then I'd suspended them with black steel ring clips - most people loved this, a few hated it, or though it wasn't professional. But I loved the physicality of it - the tension reminding me of stretched leather, the juxtaposition between light, fibrous paper and dark, heavy steel. I like handling my photographs with my fingers, actually feeling them through the process, from unspooling the film myself to develop it in a dark cupboard to handling the projections on paper under red light. This kind of hanging is an extension of that - behind a frame, they're disconnected. I wanted to celebrate the actual feel of them, the curl of the paper, all of it - not exactly an archival method, but there you go.
The private view went so well, I was honestly overwhelmed at all the positive response the work received. Particularly when it came to praise from people I respected, like radical academics and exhibition organisers, but also the number of queer people who came up to me and told me how much they connected with the work. That's absolutely the most important thing to me - people being able to see parts of themselves mirrored in it.
I was also selected to be one of Free Range's poster artists to promote their photography week. It was pretty sick to see one of my photographs blown up in a gallery window for all of Brick Lane to see - photo with a 5ft me for scale.
Cheers to everyone at UEL, Free Range, and on the judging panel for being so supportive.
You can view the Queer Porn Portraits series here, and buy the limited edition book here.