“Between Me and You” by Bernice Mulenga

New dedicated LGBTQ+ cultural space to launch in London

Queercircle’s new dedicated LGBTQ+ cultural space will open in London in June 2022, with a solo exhibition, ‘Let me hold you,’ by Michaela Yearwood-Dan and an archive-based exhibition celebrating the radical drag queens of the gay liberation front.

QUEERCIRCLE, an LGBTQ+ charity working at the intersection of arts, culture and social action, will open a new permanent home for LGBTQ+ artists and safe space for the community on 9 June 2022. Recognising the disappearance of artist studios and the closure of over 50% of dedicated LGBTQ+ spaces in London in the past decade, QUEERCIRCLE will support the LGBTQ+ community through an annual programme of physical and digital exhibition commissions, participatory artist residencies and a public programme designed to strengthen links between arts, culture, health and wellbeing.

Designed by David Kohn Architects and situated in Design District on Greenwich Peninsula, QUEERCIRCLE will house a main gallery, reading room and project space. QUEERCIRCLE will programme three seasons a year, each comprising an exhibition by an LGBTQ+ contemporary artist, an archive exhibition and a participatory residency. Through its programme, QUEERCIRCLE will create opportunities for visitors to access and engage with LGBTQ+ culture, address inequalities relating to cultural identity, social justice and human rights, and create a sense of place and belonging for the local and LGBTQ+ communities. The exhibition programme will launch with a solo exhibition titled, ‘Let Me Hold You,’ presenting new work by Michaela Yearwood-Dan and an archive show, ‘The Queens’ Jubilee,’ celebrating the radical drag queens of the Gay Liberation Front coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the first Pride march in the UK.

Each year, participating artists and organisations will be invited to respond to a theme. The centre’s first year of programming will be centred around ‘ecology’. Originating from the Greek word ‘oikos’ meaning ‘household’ or ‘dwelling place’, ecology is a fitting theme as QUEERCIRCLE opens its new home and invites participants to consider topical concerns around the natural world.

ASHLEY JOINER, FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR OF QUEERCIRCLE, SAID: “The opening of our new home is a milestone moment for QUEERCIRCLE and a visual representation of the community’s ability to come together and make positive collective change. Our programme is a response to the needs and aspirations of our community, and we remain committed to listening and adapting to those needs.

With increasing cuts being made to arts education and vital mental health services, it is necessary for us to reimagine the role cultural spaces play in society. We now have an opportunity to collaboratively design community-informed programmes that push the boundaries of arts and culture, learning, and health and wellbeing in a holistic environment that recognises the impact each has on the other.”


The inaugural exhibition will present new site-specific work by London-based painter Michaela Yearwood-Dan, marking an evolution of the artist’s canvas-based exhibition practice. The show, supported by Arts Council England and Winsor & Newton, will include a freestanding curved mural installation, creating a sanctuary for visitors to reflect in a safe environment, alongside a series of ceramic sculptural works. Yearwood-Dan’s signature botanical-inspired motifs allow for a visual exploration of the interconnectedness of the human and non-human experience, while also expanding our understanding of what it means to be queer and to love.

Yearwood-Dan’s work reflects on themes of race, culture, social and personal identity, and love but defies binary notions of racial or gendered identity and history. Resisting strictures of representation, Yearwood-Dan presents her true self – her desires, her needs, her pain and her love – and empowers us as the viewers to do so too.


QUEERCIRCLE’s reading room will serve as an additional exhibition space, hosting archive displays from artists or members of the LGBTQ+ community. The first archive exhibition, ‘The Queens’ Jubilee’, will celebrate the radical drag queens of the Gay Liberation Front, who marched through central London in 1972 for the first ever Pride in the UK. The radical queens involved in the movement defied gender norms and utilised street theatre to tackle inequalities. Fifty years later, QUEERCIRCLE will collaborate with key Gay Liberation Front figures, led by Stuart Feather, on this exhibition exploring gender, drag, social action and LGBTQ+ politics. On display will be documentary photography, diary entries and news cuttings, demonstrating the evolution of drag as a way of life.


Each season, QUEERCIRCLE will commission an artist to develop and deliver a participatory-focused residency programme to promote LGBTQ+ visibility, expand access to the arts, and nurture the health and wellbeing of local and LGBTQ+ communities. Through these residencies, QUEERCIRCLE will encourage collaboration between artists and the LGBTQ+ community, cultural workers, groups and individuals as a means of expanding participation and the very meaning of what a cultural institute is. Further details on the first artist residency will be announced in due course.

While QUEERCIRCLE’s physical programme will focus on UK-based artists, its digital programme, supported by Art Fund, will offer opportunities to LGBTQ+ artists across the world. Each month, an LGBTQ+ artist will conduct individual conversations around the annual theme with three other people of their choosing, allowing for a broad engagement with the world’s most pressing issues from a queer perspective. These conversations will be recorded and transcribed with the resulting texts and films published on the QUEERCIRCLE website for public audiences.


The Health & Wellbeing programme will provide a holistic and inclusive service focusing on social aspects of health and wellbeing, with a view to tackling social isolation and reducing stress and anxiety, through confidence building and encouraging the development of friendships, social networks and local community participation. The programming will begin with a weekly artist-led community arts club, providing opportunities for any skill level. QUEERCIRCLE has also partnered with University College London to create a comprehensive community-informed framework for evaluating the impacts of the Health & Wellbeing events, with a view to using the gathered data to inform future programming. All events will be free to ensure that there are no financial barriers to participation. The Health & Wellbeing programme is supported by The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK.


To tackle the limited physical spaces available for LGBTQ+ organisations in London, QUEERCIRCLE will host month-long ‘catalyst’ periods, in between the seasonal exhibitions, to provide other LGBTQ+ organisations with pro bono space to develop and deliver exciting initiatives for their networks. The first participating organisation will be the Queer Youth Art Network, a youth group for young queer people aged 18-26, who share a common interest in the arts.


QUEERCIRCLE’S new space has been generously supported by Arts Council England, The National Lottery Community Fund, Royal Borough Greenwich, Design District, Artlogic and Winsor & Newton, Outset’s Studiomakers Initiative, Sutton Communications, Greater London Authority, Daytrip and There’s Light, in addition to a successful public crowdfunding campaign last year, which raised over £40,000.