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Queeriosities: Meet the Curator, Davy Pittoors

Queeriosities is an LGBTQ+ fair of over 40 artists, makers and creative businesses who will be exhibiting and selling their work at Museum of the Home from 20th May - 21st May. A whole range of mediums and art forms will be on display, all of which interact with the theme of the fair: identity, domesticity and home.

Ahead of the preview event on Friday 19th May, we interviewed curator Davy Pittoors about how Queeriosities came into being, building wendy houses out of cardboard boxes and flea markets as inspiration.

Let’s start at the beginning. How did the Queeriosities project come about? What sparked the idea, and this collaboration with Museum of the Home?

Personally, I have been dealing in queer art for quite some time now. And I’ve been interested in queer art that has a domestic link or incorporates this idea of queer living or queer domesticity in either the medium, the theme or the spirit of the work.

I always felt like I could never find what I wanted to buy or what I felt really excited about. I felt that there was this need for something that sat between high brow white box gallery and craft market, something that felt welcoming to everyone, a middle ground at a nice location.

The conversation with Museum of the Home came about quite organically. In 2021 I staged an exhibition on Columbia Road where I took over an apartment and I redecorated that flat with queer objects and queer art. At that exhibition I met Sonia who is the director of Museum of the Home. Ever since then we’ve stayed in touch and been talking and thinking about how we could bring a version of this idea to the museum.

We had to find a way to slot it into an already existing programme. So from a curatorial point of view it felt most natural to do it through the fair model.

Queeriosities also links into research the museum is doing. They are gathering lots of information on how they can inject more queer narratives into their next year of programming and also into their renovation of their ‘Rooms through Time’ galleries. They’re redoing one of the rooms which currently has a queer narrative attached to it but that is perhaps quite one dimensional. So they’re trying to open up that room and inject more inclusive narratives into the renovation.

The theme for the fair is identity, domesticity and home. And I know the relationship between art, sexuality and domesticity is something you explore throughout your practice. Can you tell us a bit about that theme and that relationship?

For me, the home and physical space is my main outlet of expressing my own queer identity. I don’t have that same affinity with fashion or performance. Lots of people express their identity through that. But I feel the most at ease doing this in a spatial context, and more specifically a home context.

It’s only recently that I realised that even when I was a child I was doing a version of that already. My parents ran an electronics store in Belgium, so in the late 80s, early 90s I had this endless supply of big TV cardboard boxes. I would cut them up and turn them into these little wendy houses. I would cut them and wallpaper them and paint them, cut windows and doors into them, make furniture for them. I would create this world within the room that I had upstairs in the store. That was my safe space. Something that I felt was mine. And within that I felt the happiest, I guess. You can theorise this as much as you want, but I think there was an element of feeling a bit different and wanting to seek shelter within my own world.

In my curation, that same idea came to the forefront. First it came with: I can’t find what I want to buy. And then eventually that led to me creating my own space online where I was curating what I wanted to see. That snowballed into a physical space in Margate where I had a two year pop up gallery, and then the Columbia Road project. And also, more recently, the supper clubs that I’ve been doing which is a version of that again. Each time it’s just about creating an environment that I feel at ease in. By doing it, I’ve come across a lot of people that share similar interests and values. It’s kind of a thing. It feels quite nice that I’m starting to discover more and more people who are interested in similar things, and I’m accidentally building a little community for myself.

I think there is definitely overlap between this idea of self expression and identity and how that manifests itself in space and objects. I started doing a bit more research. There’s lots of theory on it including this really great book by Matt Cook called ‘Queer Domesticities’. I’m still quite early on in my journey with researching all the theory behind it. I love reading about it but at the same time I’m also a doer. I want to do my own version of it.

Coming In Exhibition curated by Davy Pittoors, Columbia Road

The fair features over 40 LGBTQ+ makers and artists. Why do you think showcasing LGBTQ+ creativity is important, especially at the moment? What does it mean to create queer space?

Recently, I’ve seen a lot of people talking about - and I’ve experienced it myself as well - the fact that queer art is not always represented in museums and institutions. As a community we have a very complicated relationships with governing bodies and institutions anyway. For me it was important for me to facilitate or create a space where I could bring in as many people as I could, to give them a platform like Museum of the Home which shares similar values and is genuinely interested in hearing about those voices. I think that was particularly important to me, that it felt genuine and that it felt like the institution was really behind it. They’ve been really supportive and that was very key in making it happen and for it not to be forced in any way. It felt right. That indirectly feeds into the idea of a safe space. Feeling welcomed is one of the most important things.

Then through my curatorial work, I was already plugged into quite a large network. But then I started asking everyone, who did you think should be there? I asked for recommendations so in the end it has become a bit of an extended community that’s been brought together through different angles, not just me. It’s all through my filter, but the way that I’ve tried to open it up is to hear different people’s input as well. Everyone knows at least someone at the fair, and that’s an additional way of making it a bit more fun and not so scary.

There are so many different mediums and art forms being celebrated at Queeriosities. Why was that important to you?

For me, that is always at the heart of, and a starting point for, anything that I do. I find it really interesting to bring different mediums, different levels, even different price points together because I think that makes for an interesting experience. From the visitor point of view, I wanted to create something for everyone, which feeds into that idea of it being welcoming. There is something for everyone’s taste, something for everyone’s price bracket. If you’re a lover of ceramics, if you’re a lover of painting, if you’re interested in zines. Or if you’re looking for a carpenter for your new apartment. If you are interested somewhat in the home and in living, you’re going to find something. That’s what would excite me as a visitor: for it to be a bit of a surprise.

I’m also obsessed with flea markets. I’ve been going to flea markets pretty much since I was in a stroller with my parents. It’s just that thrill of going to a place and not knowing what you are going to find, having that element of surprise. Which I guess fed into the curation. I wanted it to be exciting and not just one dimensional.

I love the contrast, this blend of having very graphic or erotic things there, next to someone else who makes really pretty plates. A lot of people, when they think of queer art, think it just has to have a penis on it. The fair will be, hopefully, a more nuanced and interesting take on what queer art can be and is. The mediums feed into that too.

34 Fort Hill concept space curated by Davy Pittoors, Margate

As a curator, do you have any advice for budding curators?

Do it now. Don’t wait.

I always want things to be perfect. I do a lot of thinking and worrying about things and that always delays, or has delayed, projects. Looking back, I just wish I would have gone for it. You’re going to get things wrong and it’s not always going to be what you’d envisioned it to be, but it’s about trusting that it’s a starting point. I think you learn a lot from just doing something.

I learnt so much from doing the exhibition on Columbia Road and if I were to do it again, I would do it completely differently. And I think the fair now is an evolution from that first exhibition.

You can also really start small. I did it that way. I started selling things that I found in flea markets myself online. When I noticed people were interested in that I started reaching out to artists that I really loved, and said: I really love your work. Would you let me try and sell some of your stuff? That sort of worked and I grew that into a slightly bigger website. When the opportunity came about to get a space temporarily I thought, I don’t really know what I’m doing but let’s just try. And then that sort of worked.

Don’t be too intimidated by the art world as well. I don’t have any formal art background. I never went to art school. My background is in visual merchandising, retail. I suppose my skill of presenting things has been quite useful in knowing how the end result will look, and I think that is quite important to me. And it’s been quite consistent as well on everything that I’ve done. I do like to have a certain standard and I suppose maybe that is the thing that makes me unique.

So figure out what makes your point of view different. What’s important to you? Be consistent with that. I think that’s quite important. I think for me it’s not that conscious, it just happens because it’s my core belief. And I think if you have that then you can make anything work, in whatever shape it may take.

Is there anything you’d like to say to potential attendees?

Come and bring your friends. Talk to everyone you know about Queeriosities. It’s been interesting, getting the word out there. Mainstream media is not always interested, so TELL EVERYONE! Come and enjoy. We have the preview event, the fair itself and a panel talk. If you want to see the preview or the panel you can buy a ticket but the fair itself is free. You can experience the fair in whatever shape or form you’d like to. And it’s for everyone, not just for queer people. However you identify, you will find something that you will really like, I think, because there is such a diverse variety of objects and art there. So bring your family!

Queeriosities runs from 19th May - 21st May at Museum of the Home, London. Find out more, and get tickets to the preview event and panel discussion, here.

Find out about some of the artists exhibiting their work here.

Find out more about Davy's work here.

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