Queer British Art – An in conversation between Ajamu X and Simeon Barclay

Wednesday 3th May

The Queer British Art Research Group are thrilled to be hosting an in conversation between artists, Ajamu X and Simeon Barclay.


Ajamu X is a photographer, scholar, archive curator and radical sex activist best known for his imagery that challenges dominated ideas around black masculinity, gender, sexuality, and representation of black LGBTQ people in the United Kingdom. His philosophical – political-aesthetic incorporate portraiture/studio-based constructed imagery and early analogue printing processes which unapologetically celebrates black queer bodies, the erotic, pleasure as activism and difference. He is the co-founder of rukus! Federation and the rukus! Black Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer + archive and is one of the few leading specialists on Black British LGBTQ+ history, heritage, and cultural memory in the UK.

X’s works have been shown in exhibitions in museums, galleries, and artistic spaces since the 1990s. Recent solo exhibitions including including; Ajamu: The Patron Saint of Darkroom, 2023, Archival Sensoria at Cubitt Gallery in 2021 with work included within group exhibitions including (Un)Defining Queer at the Whitworth 2023, University of Manchester, Very Private at Charleston House 2022, Fashioning Masculinities at the Victoria and Albert Gallery, 2022, Kiss My Gender at the Hayward Gallery, 2019 to name but a few. Ajamu’s work is held in collections Tate, London, Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow, Autograph, London and Neuberger Museum of Art, New York.

Ajamu X is PhD researcher at the Royal College of Arts, London and received an honorary fellowship from the Royal photographic Society.

Simeon Barclay

Drawing on popular culture, music and fashion, Simeon Barclay creates multi-dimensional installations – ensembles of film, neon signage, collage, sound and sculpture – that questions how ‘memory, images and objects’ situate and define us. He is also interested in the complexities of migrant identity, and how this is articulated in private spaces and public collections. ‘What I’m trying to understand is how people perform themselves’, he says. Finding liberation in club culture; and the sixteen years he spent in blue-collar jobs before moving into visual art. Much of Barclay’s work is inspired by the communal and spectacular nature of dance, by its freedoms and its rituals, as well as its potential as a site of resistance.

Barclay has exhibited both nationally and internationally with solo shows including, In the Name of the Father, South London Gallery, London, 2022, Bus2move, Workplace Foundation, Gateshead, 2019, Liferoom, The Holden Gallery, Manchester, 2019, Bus2move, The Tetley, 2018, Art Now: Simeon Barclay, The Hero Wears Clay Shoes, Tate Britain, 2017. Group shows include Poor Things, Fruitmarket, Edinburgh, 2023, British Art Show, Nationwide, 2022, Survey, G39, Cardiff, 2019, Futbolka, Ty Pawb, Wrexham, 2019, Survey, Jerwood Visual Arts, 2019, and Knock Knock, South London Gallery, 2018.

His work is in the Arts Council Collection, London; Zabludowicz Collection, London; Manchester Art Gallery and Whitworth Art Gallery collection, Manchester.

This event is being held both at the Whitworth, Manchester and online as part of the Queer British Art Research Group programme.

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