Canary Wharf celebrates London Pride 2019 with Ria Brodell’s “Butch Heroes” in Crossrail Place Roof Garden
Displayed against the lush green backdrop of Crossrail Place Roof Garden, a tropical oasis in Canary Wharf, Ria Brodell’s “Butch Heroes” can be seen until Monday 29 July.
Brodell’s remarkable exhibition delves into the archives of the LGBTQIA community, unearthing a history of people who, although assigned female at birth, spent their lives living out of the confines of their gender. The stories told in Brodell’s paintings stretch back over 500 years to Katherina Hetzeldorfer, who lived as a man and married a woman in Germany, 1477, to Clara aka “Big Ben”, a person known for their robust size, masculine mannerisms and “attention to other women” in 1926 New York.
The project began in 2010, when whilst painting a self-portrait as a Nun or Monk circa 1250, Brodell was considering what their life would have been like if they was born into a different century. As a former Catholic s/he knew “homosexuals” were called to a lifetime of chastity or service to the church, but there must have been other ways that queer people chose to live their lives. “Butch Heroes” hence began as a series of research, and thereafter paintings, into the names and stories of members of the LGBTQIA community in the past, who’s tales had often been explained away in the history books as illness, romantic friendship, opportunistic cross-dressing, fraud, or are rewritten or censored to suit the time period.
The paintings themselves were constructed using a variety of historic sources including artefacts, maps, journals, paintings, drawings, prints, or photos from the time period to help create a real or imagined portrait of the subject. The subjects themselves are those of which Brodell can personally identify, people who were assigned female at birth, had documented relationships with women, and whose gender presentation was more masculine than feminine. These real people were taken from diverse societal, ethnic and geographical backgrounds, spanning from a Japanese artist from the Samurai class to a native Canadian healer and messenger from the Ktunaxa Nation. All linked by their sense of courage and bravery in challenging their societies’ strict gender roles.
Exhibited in the Roof Garden are 10 portraits from the painting series, Butch Heroes, which was published as a book containing 28 of the stories by MIT Press (ISBN 9780262038973).
Butch Heroes is a part of Canary Wharf’s world-class, year-round arts and events programme, presenting over 200 diverse and culturally inspiring events and exhibitions throughout the Estate
For more information on the event at Canary Wharf, please visit: www.canarywharf.com
For further information and images, please contact:
Canary Wharf Group plc
T: 020 7418 2166