How have London’s queer spaces, such as Sink the Pink, informed your ideas behind your work and your own expression as an artist? How do you feel about the decline of queer and safe spaces in London?
We have natural tendencies to gravitate towards people of like minds in spaces we periodically inhabit. In this way I became friends with Glyn Fussell and the drag-queens of the London club-night collective, Sink the Pink. The collective was co-founded as an antidote to London’s increasing gentrification and loss of identity.
I embarked on a year-long journey documenting the STP queens in 2014-15, who I became friends with in the process. The journey – the interaction, the muses I met with, talked, drank, and danced with – became the inspiration for a series of portraits of the queens. This process, the physical interaction and painting, in fact conjured a powerful expression of ideas always present in my portraiture – those of fluidity, of prowess and of vulnerability. In terms of the decline of queer spaces, I feel that, actually, there is a brighter future. Spaces have relocated and reinvented themselves and the community is stronger today than ever, in London at least. The recent venue closures in Soho, instigated by finance and development, are shocking, but reaction to this always makes counter-culture stronger and more authentic. The queer safe spaces in East London now are spaces we should be proud of. Queer culture in London, by definition, is elastic and resilient