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Emotive LGBTQ+ artworks coming to Chelmsford Museum

Behind The Rainbow Poster

Chelmsford Museum’s upcoming exhibition Behind the Rainbow is starting to take shape, with some exceptional artworks set to be displayed.

Exhibition will reveal creativity and complexity of the LGBTQ+ community in Chelmsford and Essex

Essex Pride and Chelmsford Museum are co-producing the exhibition, which is to feature items submitted by the LGBTQ+ community in Chelmsford and Essex.

The exhibition looks to reveal the creativity, complexity, and humanity of members of the LGBTQ+ community. It is hoped that it will challenge outdated and negative perceptions of the community. Behind the Rainbow invites visitors to connect with the human stories behind the items, to better understand what it means to be LGBTQ+ and what challenges the community still faces.

Inclucive Pride Heart

Varied objects will tell powerful stories about the LGBTQ+ community

The exhibition will feature a range of photographs, poems, objects, and digital artworks. Together, these items will share the stories of the LGBTQ+ community in Chelmsford and Essex.

A callout for submissions was issued earlier this year and, since it closed in March, the exhibition team have been busy sifting through the varied and creative entries. Local artists have supported the creation of other pieces through recent workshops at The Art PlacePatch, and Chelmsford Museum.

Sofia Rojas of Essex Pride says the high calibre of submissions for Behind the Rainbow reflects the wide-ranging talent and creativity of the LGBTQ+ community:

"It’s so great, and not at all surprising, to see such a brilliant array of items we’ve had submitted for this exhibition. Our community has so many talented and creative individuals and I’m really excited to see their beautiful works displayed at Chelmsford Museum. We can’t wait to share their voices in Behind the Rainbow."

Sofia Rojas, Essex Pride Committee Lead

As we eagerly await the launch of Behind the Rainbow, here’s our top pick of pieces coming to the exhibition:

1. Placards from the first Chelmsford Pride March

These placards were crafted during a week of workshops sponsored by Chelmsford For You and held at The Art Place in 2022. They were made for Chelmsford’s first ever Pride March on 25 June 2022.

Sofia says they act as a reminder that the LGBTQ+ community still faces discrimination and “It is important to celebrate, but also to continue educating ourselves to help everyone feel welcomed and safe. We shape the society we live in.”

2. ‘Voice notes to my child self’

A powerful voice recording by poet and artist, Ellena Woolf, forms a key part of the exhibition. The 15-minute audio soundscape blends poetry, song, and sound to imagine what a trans woman might say if she could leave a WhatsApp voice note to her younger self. It gives listeners an insight into growing up trans in rural Essex.

Listening Booth (Credit: Lucy Toms)
Image credit: Lucy Toms

The project was commissioned by the BBC and the Institute of Contemporary Arts, with support from NTS Radio and Creative Arts East. The piece was created in collaboration with Composer and Sound Designer, Reuben Kyriakides.

3. ‘Embrace’ by Ethan Dredge

‘Embrace’ By Ethan Dredge (Credit: Ethan Dredge)
Credit: Ethan Dredge

This colourful artwork submitted by Ethan Dredge depicts two figures embracing each other in a message of comfort and love.

Ethan says the characters’ bodies have been framed in a way that hides their transgender and non-binary identities, “making the audience focus on the main person’s face, the serenity they are experiencing from this hug. I felt that this would humanise us in a way that the media often doesn’t.”

Exhibition opens 24 June

Behind the Rainbow opens at Chelmsford Museum on Saturday, 24 June 2023. It runs until 29 October 2023.

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Cherelle Nightingill
Cherelle Nightingill

Cherelle writes about Chelmsford Theatre, Hylands Estate, Chelmsford Museum, the Mayor of Chelmsford and culture and events in the city.