As the last of my projects for 2017 come to an end it’s time for another end of year round up!
I really love writing these - they encourage me to do more whilst acknowledging what I and my gang have achieved in just one year. They demonstrate the breadth of my work and hopefully the democracy in which it is shared. Most importantly, these write ups allow me the space for a self congratulating pat on the back whilst acknowledging my team, collaborators, partners and funders who made it all possible.
Here’s how I spent 12 months, showing off and shouting at almost 35,000 people in pubs, boxing rings, working men’s clubs, museums, high streets, living rooms, car parks and palaces across the UK. How an estimated 1 million people listened to me on the wireless, with online audiences reaching well over 300,000 people - listening, watching and reading videos, blogs, podcasts, writings, rants and selfies! All whilst mentoring 14 artists from across England, Scotland and Wales!
As the new year kicked started I began to settle into my new home - Southend! On the 1st January I kick started No Culture Day in response to Sir David Amess’ (MP for Southend West) pithy attempt to make my new hometown the Alternative City of Culture after losing the bid to host the actual City of Culture. In protest I asked everyone to do nothing cultural on 1st January - a hard task for many! You can read about it here and read the manifesto here. As soon as I arrived in my new neighbourhood I began to meet with local artists to get the gossip on who makes work here and how it happens, who the ringleaders are and whose left out. I realised people weren’t talking to each other so with the help of Arts Council England I set up Local Gossip - a bi-monthly community meeting for artists and facilitators to air their dirty laundry. We’ve held six meetings so far and covered subjects like money and gender. Check out how some of these conversations spilled on to twitter here. The next meeting kick starts again in January!
I did my first gig of 2017 in my home county of Essex at Hunt & Darton Jumble Sale in Colchester! I worked with my now long term collaborator Reggie (10 years old), who has popped up in various bits of my work and is a star!
Then onto the V&A museum to host Amy Grimehouse and their pop up gender and sexuality spectrum game. This was the first of many institutions I worked with in 2017 as each sought to “celebrate” the 50th year since the partial decriminalisation of sex between men in England & Wales.
As LGBTQIA* history month kicked in I started the month with a visit to Jeremy Corbyn’s office to mark the anniversary of decrim!
I directed Queen James for Historic Royal Palaces, written by Mark Ravenhill starring some of the finest queer talent I’ve ever worked with. A surreal experience rehearsing at Hampton Court Palace surrounded by hordes of tourists and children whilst getting used to the tongue twisters of polari and 16th century camp. Rumour has it that the show will be returning - more on that soon!
February also saw me collaborate with my local arts space in Southend - Focal Point Gallery. They approached me to host an event to mark LGBTQIA* history month and so we decided to do one of my dinner debates. Over 130 people showed up to eat fish and chips with me (you can read all about it here. It became clear that there was a lot of residual trauma for local queer and trans folk and so we set about creating a piece of work in response.
I made my BBC World Service debut in which I wrote a column for the Cultural Front Line on queer oppression in the UK. Please do check this programme out - its got some really brilliant stories from around the world included!
I think one of my proudest moments of 2017 was rocking up to the National Theatre for a show and seeing of the aforementioned Reggie projected across one of the wall there, Reggie was holding a placard that said my name on it. He had chosen me as his queer icon - what an honour!
It was straight into previews with Bravado - my memoir of working class masculinity from 1991 - 1999. The show opened in St. Helens with my beloved Heart of Glass, supported by Arts Council England and Creative Scene. Bravado was made to tour male space and so the setting of a rugby changing room to kick it all off was brilliant!
Over the next few years I’m going to be explicitly exploring class, opportunity and identity. Part of this research meant I headed to the ever brilliant Marlborough in Brighton to kick start my research with Working Class Dinner Party…
You can read a lovely review of the night here too. We’re planning more dinner parties for 2018 - where would you like to see them happen?
As spring sprung an image of me stood in the main house of Roundhouse was unveiled at City Hall as part of Historic England’s My London project. The image has now moved from Sadiq’s office and will soon be on show at Walthamstow Underground Station next to a Bob & Roberta Smith portrait.
I started to mentor artists as part of Metal Peterborough’s Development LAB’s. Under the brilliant eye of Kate Marsh we’ve been looking at the body and the shared space disability, fatness, queerness, class and gender often coexist or overlap. This programme has been so bloody exciting - talking through ideas and helping other artists start some fires!
After a snotty email from my local theatre in Southend saying I should call the council cause my work was a bit too community for them to consider I decided to be ever the adult and do stuff without them ...in my living room. Live Art Living Room invited almost 100 of my neighbours round to mine for light refreshment and performance. No one knew what they were coming to see but the shows sold out after just 4 days! I put some of my favourite queers in my living room, queers who’ve never previously shown work in Southend. Queers because I wanted to find a way from responding to the lack of visibility on this part of the shore...
Live Art Living Room was supported by Southend Borough Councils 125 Fund and Arts Council England.
May also saw me doorstep my MP which has meant I’m now locally known as the one who stopped David Amess on Facebook - watch it here!
Another broadcast debut - this time for Radio 3! The Verb commissioned me to write a piece about my childhood and memory. I penned Felt Tips, a short piece about my Mum, her encouragement of my imagination and Silk Cut fags. Listen to it here.
With all this talk of the 50th year since the The Sexual Offences Act and queer people being perceived to be in a better place, I wanted to find out if the UK become a queer friendly nation or are homophobic prejudices just as prevalent? Belonging at, with and supported by Chats Palace saw me bring Phyll Opoku-Gyimah, Shon Faye, Chardine Taylor-Stone and Travis Alabanza together to explore where queer people sit in our society…
After the success of the Southend LGBTQIA* History Month dinner Focal Point Gallery commissioned me to create a public piece of work. I set about interviewing local people, asking them about their experiences. I went for early morning coffee with Transpire, got the ink out with 15 locals one Saturday over cake, asked people questions on Facebook messenger, WhatsApp'd and tweeted those who wanted to be involved but couldn't meet me or were afraid to.
These interviews created You Are Not Alone - a temporary public artwork commissioned specifically for Southend High Street railway bridge. Installed on either side of the suspended metal bridge, the commission is visible for a half mile along the town’s main thoroughfare. Read more about the project here.
I began my year-long residency in Peterborough with arts organisation Metal, setting up the Queer Peterborough project - creating, addressing and making radical queerness and a more forward facing LGBTQIA* community. You can read how that first meeting went here.
As part of Queer Peterborough project I set up Queer Commune for Planet B festival, supported by PECT and Metal Peterborough. 6 artists living in 3 caravans took over a car park, exchanging art for food and turning food waste into community meals. Over these meals we spoke about politics, race, sexuality and socialism...
We’re currently fundraising to bring Queer Commune to 5 locations this summer!
August was Tate’s turn to mark the 50th Year of Decrim. As part of Uniqlo Tate Lates I created an intervention aimed at getting punters to come up with the ideas for a change...
This year also saw me make and do a lot of painting / wall stuff. The most popular was the painting project in which I bought amateur artists work, attempt to trace them to give them back their work. If unsuccessful I create a collaboration with them in an attempt to not only queer the landscape paintings of charity shops but get artists work back on wall. I created 30 especially for Art Car Boot Fair...
Bravado was back on the road, touring male spaces that included a strip club, boxing ring and a working mens social club. This was quickly followed by some lovely 4* reviews including this one.
Collaborating with Heritage Open Days and Radical ESSEX I made my first theatre production in Essex, souley for Essex. From Wivenhoe, With Love focused on the lives of two trailblazers who set the then sleepy fishing village of Wivenhoe alight - Dicky Chopping and Denis Wirth-Miller. Artists Nando Messias, La John Joseph and Mem Morrison recollected the lives of the notorious couple in a performance made up entirely of local gossip, hearsay, speculation and distant memory…
Bravado Book hit the shelves and was almost immediately sent for a reprint after selling out. The book is a transcript of the show with a foreword from me, Stuart Who? And Prof. Jen Harvie. It's still available to buy on Oberon Books
I also made a short documentary for Tate on Francis Bacon (http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/francis-bacon-682/scottee-on-francis-bacon-soho) and featured on Sofie Hagen’s brilliant podcast Made of Human (http://mohpod.libsyn.com/61-scottee-being-a-fat-body-is-a-political-thing)
This followed by a short residency in Turku, Finland with some very brilliant people who I will be working with in 2018!
As Queer Peterborough hits 6 months old and the project celebrates reaching over 400 local people in that time I’ve now looking at visibility. I’ve instigated the first Pride in Peterborough which will hopefully be hitting the city in Summer 2018, ran by, with and for the local community.
The Gamble aired on Radio 4 in November and followed me and my bessie Bryony Kimmings about as we made new work. It’s about why we put our real life on stage - listen to it here.
...as ever December is about preparing for NYE knees up. A performance party to let our hair down at. This year the party is NAFF DRAG! Serving up the grittier, untelevised end of drag, trans* gorgeousness, queer performance, feminist* n working class fat brilliance - with absolutely no contestants from Drag Race on the line up!
You are all invited to share NYE with myself, Munroe Bergdorf, Victoria Sin, Figs in Wigs, We Need to Talk About Michelle, Russella, Jonathan Bestley, Alex Lawless, Aaron Zimbra and Katy Baird!
Next year! Big News! 2018 will mark 10 years of me as an artist! A decade of running my mouth, having ideas above my station and putting fatness, class and queerness in unavoidable situations! On the other side of NYE I’ll be revealing how we’ll be marking the occasion but I can tell you there will be an archive book, a very Scottee version of a retrospective and the chance for you to be me!
Thank you! Major props to the gang - Molly, Karl, Elena, Roxanne and Holly for making shit happen! To our collaborators, partners, funders, board and participants! Major props to Heart of Glass, Creative Scene, Metal Peterborough, Home, Heritage Open Days, Focal Point and Camden People's Theatre for their endless support! Special shout out to Arts Council England for helping us make so much of this happen!
Lorra love to you lot who read, turn up, experience and interact with my work! Tell me what you've loved, what you'd like to see more of and I hope to see you in 2018!