Queer love and artistic collaboration take centre stage in the new London photography exhibition, Labour of Love
Art history is littered with examples of the artist-muse relationship – think: Rodin and Claudel, Picasso and Maar, Dalí and Diakonova. But too often we see the muse reduced to an object; a body, or idol. However, a new exhibition at The Outsiders Gallery is seeking to change this and honour the reciprocal nature of this relationship, exploring the romantic and creative exchange within London-based LGBTQ+ couples.
“Labour of Love has been an idea that I’ve been coming back to for a while,” says Megan Wallace, who curated the show. “It references the unacknowledged labour behind the scenes in relationships with any creative person. Being an artist, in a relationship with another artist, gives the union a degree of agency and visibility which might not be possible to individuals who don’t have their own practice or ability to mould the work in that way.”
The images feature artists, photographers, musicians, and writers, and examine the emotional and artistic support that is given and received within these relationships. “The kind of support that you might end up giving as a romantic partner to a creative person goes so far above and beyond a salaried or recognised role,” Wallace continues. “The constant running through ideas, sharing references, helping someone recover emotionally from the mental stresses of putting their creative work up for public scrutiny.”
The pictures will be featured in the window display of east London’s VFD – a venue known for being an incubator of queer arts and entertainment – as well as online. Featured artists include Nora Nord, Heather Glazzard, Hannah Parsons, Beliza Buzollo, Rachel Ellen Hopkins, Xoey Fourr, Hidhir Badaruddin, and Simone Casarotti.
Celebrating the individual practices of these people, along with the minutiae of their everyday lives, is something Wallace feels is particularly passionate about in terms of queer representation. “There’s something vulnerable and tender about having someone to come home to and to share all that banality with,” they tell AnOther. “Often queer narratives draw on themes of homophobia, transphobia, and trauma in order to create some kind of epic forbidden love storyline, but we also deserve cosy, delightfully boring and supportive relationships too with a slow intimacy. I think this should be witnessed and considered as a means of immortalising these moments and giving them significance.”
At the heart of these images is a reminder that relationships are work: “I’ve always primarily dealt with love as the verb rather than the noun,” adds Wallace. “But love isn’t static, it’s something you have to cultivate and nourish, it’s maintained and grows through action, gesture, words.”
Labour of Love is at The Outsiders Gallery, VFD in Dalston, London until the end of the month.