All the world might be a stage, but what happens when there’s no crowd? Throughout the pandemic, closures to theatres and performance spaces had a detrimental effect on Manchester’s queer community. Losing not only the thrill of performing to an audience, their income but also their outlets of catharsis, the artists and creatives grouped together to capture their vibrant company and combat the hardship by creating Calendar Queers 2021.
An ode to their artistry in support of queer activism, Calendar Queers 2021 is an art photography wall calendar that honours and highlights a selection of the city’s spectacular queer artists from drag queens and performance artists to transgender creatives.
In the face of crisis, community and collaboration is remedying, and for Manchester’s queer community, united by a familial bond, Calendar Queers 2021 provides an opportunity to showcase the melting-pot of queer art while raising funds which are to be split between all artists to help overcome the hardship inflicted by the pandemic.
“We sought a plethora of artists to create a collection of eclectic and excellent original imagery, ranging from high camp to high fashion,” shares Beau-Azra, a performance artist and photographer who worked in company with Manchester-based photographer Rudy Mead of Fake Trash Studio. “We had fun with our stylistic approaches to each shoot and we feel we have created something that represents the diversity of our scene in such a beautiful way.”
“We shot the images at Islington Mill Studios using a mix of sets, studio and locations. Islington Mill is an artistic hub that houses many of the artists involved within the project and has been a key component in building queer Manchester into what it is now and what it will be in the future. It felt special to bring everyone together creatively in such a special place.”
The 2021 calendar neatly encapsulates the vibrancy of the Manchester queer scenes visual identity, exploring the colourful and eclectic facets of camp. Featuring Miss Blair, a staple of the Manchester drag scene, drag YouTube star Juno Birch, Channel 4’s Drag SOS stars Anna Phylactic, Lill, and Liquorice Black, the international alien queen, Cheddar Gorgeous, to performance powerhouse Grace Oni Smith, each performer, artist, and creative will take to a different kind of centre stage, each representing a month of the year.
“It’s a cavalcade of queer expression from our community,” shares Cheddar Gorgeous. “I am so proud to call this magical group of artists my family.”