Focal Point Gallery is pleased to present ‘YOU ARE NOT ALONE’, a temporary public artwork commissioned specifically for Southend High Street’s railway bridge by Southend-based artist Scottee. Installed on either side of the suspended metal bridge, the commission will be visible for a half mile along the town’s main thoroughfare. This year marks fifty years since the decriminalisation of homosexuality. The Sexual Offences Act of 1967 was an act of parliament that decriminalised homosexual acts in private between two men. Half a decade later the lives of queer people are perceived to be very different - equal age of consent, equality law and equal marriage are all heralded as progressive markers in LGBTQI* equality but has the UK become a queer friendly nation or are homophobic prejudices just as prevalent? For the past two years Scottee has been holding public debates, performance workshops, queer cultural offerings across England and Wales, interviewing over 400 LGBTQI* individuals. What has emerged from this research is a strong desire to be visible, to be able to hold hands in public space and to feel safe. In response to the Is Southend Homophobic? event at FPG that echoed these feelings of visibility and ownership of public space, the artist will create a temporary public artwork that will draw on material and responses from these sessions. ‘YOU ARE NOT ALONE’ will gather the thoughts and words of fifty LGBTQI* people, one to represent each year of decriminalisation. From this collection, two phrases will be selected to be printed on two large vinyl banners that will be installed across the railway bridge on Southend High Street. An accompanying digital artwork, showcasing all of the responses will also be produced for Big Screen Southend.
Scottee is inviting local LGBTQI* residents into the gallery for a cup of tea and a slice of cake. He wants to investigate fears, hopes and ambitions for Southend further and he needs your help. Your contributions will go towards a new public artwork that will be shown on Southend High Street. For more information click here.