Wolds Pride takes pride in queer joy exhibition at Pocklington Arts Centre gallery studio in lead-up to Sunday festival

The Joy Of A Kiss, drawing in pencil and watercolour on paper, by George Cappleman, who has returned to making art after a long hiatus for the Taking Pride In Queer Joy! exhibition at Pocklington Arts Centre

WOLDS Pride’s Taking Pride In Queer Joy! exhibition by LGBTQIA+ artists is making an impact at Pocklington Arts Centre (PAC).

Launched with live performances by York performance poet Crow Rudd and York spoken word artist and activist Mal Fox at an evening event hosted by Wolds Pride chair Adam Tipping, the show coincides with Sunday’s Wolds Pride day in Market Place and PAC.

“Over the past three years we’ve been doing our community outreach work, working with our partners to promote the opportunity for queer expression, and when some people got in touch to say they were interested in doing an exhibition, we set it in motion with Pocklington Arts Centre,” he says.

“We’re really thankful to the artists from Pocklington, York and Leeds who are taking part, and though at first we thought we would just be exhibiting local queer artists’ work, now it’s becoming an immersive show, so you can add to it because we’ll be leaving our resources out in the exhibition studio throughout the run. You can drop in whenever to be creative.”

Untitled, mixed media on canvas board in acrylkic, ink and paint, by George Cappelman

In addition, the Warm Space community café runs on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays when PAC is open for free community activities.

Adam champions the power of art. “It’s a way to express how you are feeling, exploring your identities through your imagination and creativity, and sometimes it can be easier to do that through creativity rather than speaking out,” he says.

“Everyone has creativity within them and that’s why we’d welcome anything for this exhibition, whether it’s a photograph, a poem, a story, a drawing, a colouring-in. Anything goes.

“But it’s also a space where you can just come and appreciate other people’s work, have a moment of silence and contemplation, in a safe place.”  

Addressing the exhibition title, Adam says: “Taking Pride In Queer Joy! is a broad and open theme, allowing artists to say what it means to them and what being an LGBTQIA+ artist means to them.

Wolds Pride chair Adam Tipping, left, Dean Hodgson and Sophie Fox at the launch of Wolds Pride’s Taking Pride In Queer Joy! exhibition in the Pocklington Arts Centre gallery studio

“With ‘Queer’, it’s the power of reclaiming that word because for a long time it was used in a derogatory way, and it has to be acknowledged that for some people it still symbolises hurt, but we see reclaiming it as a means of empowerment, to be celebrated, as there’s something special about being queer.”

Adam will come on to ‘Joy’ but first he says: “We are living in a concerning time that’s very challenging for our community. If you look at the news at the moment, the trans, non-binary and gender-diverse communities are being challenged daily, by society’s debates around trans people playing sport, about access to spaces, access to health care.

“After five years of waiting and campaigning, we’re still waiting for the Government to deliver a fully inclusive ban on conversion therapy. It’s vital that this ban is delivered as a matter of absolute urgency to ensure no more LGBTQIA+ people are subjected to it.”

In the light of last month’s homophobic double stabbing outside the Two Brewers, the LGBTQ+ nightclub in Clapham, south London, Adam says: “If you look at the hate crime figures, they’re disturbing. We’re seeing a rise in those figures and a lot of that is likely fuelled by the culture wars in the media.

Pride Is Part Of Me, anatomy pieces in mixed media on canvas board, by George Cappelman, from the Taking Pride In Queer Joy! exhibition

“The reason we chose ‘Joy’ in the exhibition title was because of everything that’s going on right now, which is why an event like this exhibition launch, and a space like this, is so important, especially in rural areas.

“I grew up here [Adam is 29 now] and I barely knew any queer people in Pocklington, let alone there being a space for us, so it’s really empowering and special to be able to open a space like this, and hopefully people can come and find their own joy here.

“People that hold protected characteristics or identities that are outside the social norms, still often face funny looks, particularly in rural areas, but with the rise of smaller Pride organisations [in Scarborough, Bridlington, Goole, Beverley and Pocklington] over the past two years, I find hope that people are advocating for these communities and establishing safe spaces, without people having to travel miles to find them. There are fantastic people right across Yorkshire creating these spaces.”

Wolds Pride presents Taking Pride In Queer Joy! in the Pocklington Arts Centre gallery studio, Market Place, Pocklington, until September 22. Opening hours: 10am to 4pm, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; 10am to 5pm, Thursday; 10am to 1pm, Saturday, plus during performances.

Festival focus: Wolds Pride 2023, Pocklington, September 17

The poster for Wolds Pride 2023

WOLDS Pride 2023 will be bigger and better on its return to Pocklington town centre on Sunday from 11.30am to 6.30pm, replete with live entertainment, resources, activities, freebies and stands.

“We got the ball rolling for Wolds Pride in 2020, gaining charitable status that year, and then held our first Wolds Pride event last September: the first ever Pride event in the Pocklington/Wolds area,” says chair Adam Tipping.

“We’ve thrilled to have attained funding from the National Lottery Community Fund, and as part of our 2023 offer, the main event will be on Sunday, taking over the whole of the Pocklington Arts Centre building and Market Place, so there’ll be a road closure in place.

“We’ve been working tirelessly to ensure this event is as memorable, pride-filled and jam-packed as possible for you all, and we can’t wait to come together with you for our 2023 celebrations.”

Run by a team of volunteers, Wolds Pride 2023 is completely free, all are welcome, and no tickets are required. “Simply come along and join in the family-friendly fun in a safe, affirming space,” advises Adam. “Be sure to dig out your favourite outfit, bring along someone you know, and join us in celebrating our local LGBTQIA+ community.”

Crow Rudd: Trans Joy panel discussion; performance poetry reading and poetry workshop leader

Festival highlights

11.30am: Flag ceremony to launch Wolds Pride in Market Place.

11.45am to 6.30pm: Quieter Zone, Pocklington Arts Centre Oak Room, run in collaboration with Autistic Pride at Pride. Chance to contribute to the paper chain alternative pride parade that has been making its way throughout Prides all summer.

12.30pm to 1.30pm: Trans Joy panel discussion, Pocklington Arts Centre main stage, with performance poet Crow Rudd, spoken word artist Malin Fox and moderator Journals of Dami.

1pm to 2pm: Join York company Thunk-It Theatre’s free family workshop to create a giant map of our dream world; Interactive Activities and Workshop Zone, Pocklington Arts Centre gallery. “Chocolate rivers, free houses for everyone, whatever you dream, let’s build it together!” say Thunk-It’s Becky Lennon and Jules Risingham. Suitable for all ages.

2.30pm to 3.30pm: Free tote bag painting and decorating workshop with Journals of Dami, Interactive Activities and Workshop Zone, Pocklington Arts Centre gallery. Suitable for all ages; children aged eight and under must be supervised.

4.15pm to 5.15pm: Free introduction to poetry workshop with Crow Rudd, Interactive Activities and Workshop Zone, Pocklington Arts Centre gallery. Suitable for age 16 plus.

12 noon to 5.30pm: Community Pride Flag; chalk boards; larger-than-life games, including Connect4 and hoopla; badge making and colouring sheets; messages of LGBTQIA+ joy; all in Interactive Activities and Workshop Zone, Pocklington Arts Centre gallery.

12 noon to 5.30pm: Health and Wellness Zone, delivered in collaboration with Pocklington businesses. Includes yoga, meditation and massage tasters, Interactive Activities and Workshop Zone, Pocklington Arts Centre gallery.

12 noon onwards: Make-up specialist Sonia Schofield will offer attendees free makeovers inside Pocklington Arts Centre, whether a touch of blush or rainbow eyeshadow.

Plus free face painting. Stilt walkers. Dancing to favourite Pride anthems. Free resources, information and signposting.

Pride Market, 25 stall holders, Market Place and Pocklington Arts Centre. From community stands publicising support, services, safe spaces, events and opportunities, to local businesses and vendors selling products, rainbow merchandise, arts & crafts and refreshments.

York spoken word poet, artist and activist Mal Fox

Festival artists

Mal Fox (he/they)

DISABLED, autistic, ADHD, aroace, non-binary, transmasc poet, crafter, artist and activist, who lives in York with his partner, child and two cats. His work focuses mainly on his experience of mental illness, neurodivergence and queerness.

Trans Joy panellist, PAC main stage, 12.30pm to 1.30pm.

Performing spoken word, PAC main stage, 4.15pm to 4.25pm.

Crow Rudd (they/them)

DISABLED, non-binary, queer, internationally published York performance poet, multiple slam champion, mentor, events producer, host, workshop facilitator, exhibition co-organiser and network founder based in York. Their work focuses on mental illness, queerness, activism, grief, identity, radical acts of love and the importance of cuddles.

Panellist on Trans Joy panel, Pocklington Arts Centre main stage, 12.30pm to 1.30pm.

Performing performance poetry, PAC main stage, 1.40pm to 1.50pm.

Running Introduction To Poetry workshop, PAC Interactive Activities and Workshop Zone, 4.15pm to 5.15pm.

Journals of Dami (she/he/they)

CULTURAL curator and photographer from Newcastle, focusing on creating multi-dimensional representation for marginalised communities such as Black people, disabled people, the LGBTQ+ community and those troubled by mental health.

Uses myriad forms of media and art, such as photography, spoken word, films, writing and more, to create a world where she and others like her can exist unapologetically.

Moderator for Trans Joy panel discussion, PAC main stage, 12.30pm to 1.30pm.

Performing spoken word, PAC main stage, 1.30pm to 1.40pm.

Leading free tote bag painting workshop, PAC Interactive Activities and Workshop Zone, 2.30pm to 3.30pm.

Andy Train

HOST for the day, offering the main-stage welcome at 1.50pm. Often dubbed “Mr Pride” with 21 years of Pride experience; vice-chair for Pride in Hull; co-founding co-chair of UK Pride Organisers Network and Interpride Global Advisory Council member.

Provides “pride team” support to Wolds Pride. His day job includes training and performing, often with a big blue steam engine called Thomas.

Abbadabbatwo – Abba tribute

ALEX and Toni pay tribute to super-trouper Swedes Abba with audience participation, crazy costumes and “undeniably dancey” music. Performing together since 1996, they formed this electrifying show in 2018.

Playing Pocklington Arts Centre main stage, 1.55pm to 2.40pm.

MXYM (pronounced M-X-Y-M)

NEWCASTLE singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, self-producing all their own work in a high-speed collision of avant-garde, goth and glam rock. Inspired by Grace Jones, Motley Crue, Madonna and Bjork, MXYM’s musical landscape is diverse and always extensively queer.

Performing on Pocklington Arts Centre main stage, 3pm to 4pm.

Veggie Stripper

BLACK drag king, from Newcastle, who is “the personification of organised chaos”. Expect powerful live vocals, dancing and lip-synching, action-packed into a high-energy, camp performance.

Performing on PAC main stage, 4.05pm to 4.10pm.

Wolds Wonders Theatre Group

BASED at Pocklington Arts Centre, welcoming adults with learning disabilities to explore song, dance and drama. The group provides a safe, friendly, fun environment for members to “try and achieve things they didn’t think they could do”.

Presenting special video performance, PAC main stage, 4.35pm to 4.40pm, preceded by Dance Time from 4.25pm to 4.35pm.

The Family Shambles Takeover!

DRAG collective from York, featuring Luna Hex, “life-sized Monster High doll and mother of Coven Events”; Tommy Boi, “the dancing tailor of York and bisexual drag king”; Miss Diagnosis, “the non-binary, scary, camp, punk drag clown of York”, and Cuppa T, “non-binary drag artist and the UKs hottest beverage”.

Also Linda from HR, a “delusional killjoy, overpromoted, and ready to push you under a bus at a second’s notice”. By the way, her host human form, Phil, is a writer of post-punk pop bangers and founder of the Trans and Non-Binary Open Mic nights at Over The Rainbow Café, above The Portal Bookshop, Patrick Pool, York.

Performing on PAC main stage, 4.45pm to 6pm, to be followed by closing speeches and the last dance.

Tha Family Shambles Takeover!: Drag diva finale to Wolds Pride on the Pocklington Arts Centre main stage