Interview: Boogaloo Stu and Ladypat on Queer Hearts a Queer Pop Art Revolution on Isle of Wight and in Brighton
We caught up with Boogaloo Stu and Ladypat to talk about Queer Hearts, their upcoming queer pop art exhibition and cultural exchange, between Isle of Wight and Brighton.
Tell us about your project Queer Hearts. What should we expect at the exhibition when it goes to Isle of Wight and Brighton?
Pat: We have done many collaborations together over the years but for the first time we are both exhibiting artwork in galleries! It was a no-brainer to do something together as we share many sensibilities and themes. That said, Stu’s work is intrinsically Boogaloo Stu as mine is Ladypat! I like to think that working in fuzzyfelt as I do and making dioramas as Stu does offers something extra tantalising. Things became very regional during Covid and I guess that got us into a mindset to look at where we are based and how we interact with the community. In my case I had the classic story of leaving the Island where there was little on offer for queer people and moving to Brighton. The difference nowadays is that there is finally a burgeoning queer scene on the Isle – we didn’t have a Pride ’til 2018!
Stu: It’s funny how our careers have somehow dove-tailed and intertwined. Pat was making pop videos and websites for years, while I was performing and DJ-ing in tandem, and somehow we have both ended up making artworks now. I did always have artistic inclinations – I would design and illustrate flyers and fanzines, and pre-Covid, I spent a good long while making a new Boogaloo Stu website that is 100% illustrated. But it was really only during the lockdowns, when I couldn’t perform anywhere that I needed to find an outlet for my artistic expression! So I started making these dioramas. It was a joy to fill my days drawing, colouring, learning and fine-tuning the artistic process.
How are you working with young queer people on the Island and in Brighton?
Pat: We’ll be hosting workshops – the Queer Hearts Awards!
Stu: It’s such a good name, isn’t it? It won’t be an actual awards ceremony, though – well, not just yet! We are inviting people to make a collage artwork, dedicated to someone who has had a positive impact on their lives. It could be someone they know, or it could be a pop star. Anyone who is important to them! The idea will be for them to make a lovely piece of art, with a short message underneath dedicated to the recipient. It will be a lot of fun, and we’ll both be on hand throughout to help and advise on creative matters.
Pat: So we’re doing two workshops during the exhibition run at Ventnor Exchange; we’re partnering with a local organisation Brave Island who offer opportunities for 14-25 year olds. This will include access to our workshops and one-to-one mentoring sessions.
Stu: That sounds really fancy, doesn’t it? In Brighton we will be doing two more workshops, this time at the Jubilee Library in the city centre. We’re linking up with MindOut, who are a mental health charity for LGBTQ+ people in Brighton. That community link was properly severed during Covid. It was really hard, looking back; trying to do online events and keep people connected, so it will be a proper delight to host workshops in person, alongside the exhibition.
Pat: And the project actually extends over a whole year – and after the workshops and exhibitions are finished, in May next year we will be curating a cultural exchange, where a gaggle of us queer Islanders will be shipped over to Brighton for a day trip to see a hand-picked selection of queer shows in Brighton Fringe, courtesy of Marlborough Productions.
Stu: It’s gonna be totally fab. And it’s all free. Fab and free!
Who or what inspires you to make your work?
Pat: In terms of the medium… I made my name as a VJ and music video director, and after 20 years staring at a screen wanted to pivot to something non-digital. I found I could recreate my digital designs as textile art. Fuzzy felt is difficult but rewarding to work with, and as I have zero experience in textile art I could throw away the rulebook and develop my own workflow. The twist is that I like the imagery to look somewhat computerized and not like typical homespun fabric art. Of course this is an impossible ideal as the material will not behave in a predictable or obedient fashion. But something about the finished effect forgives its limitations and is appealing.
Stu: Pat does that fusion of digital and hand-made, and I also use technology in the process of making my dioramas from my original hand-drawn images. I love seductive, trippy psychedelic artwork from the early 1970s. . That’s my initial inspiration, but I wouldn’t want to just make it a faintly nostalgic retread of that style – there are darker themes at play behind the facade of candy-coloured clouds!
What advice would you give to queer people and artists on the Isle of Wight and in smaller places round the UK?
Pat: Definitely hold your nerve, as the unsung voices are often the most interesting. Sometimes there are money pots to assist – for example Isle of Wight is considered an area of cultural deprivation which would have helped our bid for Arts Council funding. If you don’t know where to start, there are some brilliant resources, such as the Isle of Wight Creative Network.
Stu: In Brighton it’s obviously easier. But further afield, it can be harder to be visible and confident. As Pat says, hold your nerve. We’ve both been holding ours for years. Literally decades. We’re old. Ancient! But we’re still ploughing ahead, sticking to our vision. We are hopeful that in the future we can take the exhibition and workshops to other smaller, underprivileged communities.
What are your favourite haunts on the Isle of Wight?
Pat: The Isle of Wight is like Spin The Bottle for beaches – we have about 20 of every type imaginable. Ryde to Bembridge is one of the world’s best walks and when the tide is out you can almost walk to Mingland!
Stu: I had a holiday on the Isle of Wight many years ago with a famous very tall actress. It was a memorable holiday for many reasons, and as such I would have to say my favourite haunt was the club house at the Whitecliff Bay Holiday Park.