A spectre is haunting the Wallace Collection

and that spectre is revolution!

The Wallace Collection is one of my favourite museums in the world and it was a great joy to be invited to respond to the collection by artist and curator Sadie Lee.

One of the highlights of this show, and indeed my entire life, was singing “The Internationale” through a megaphone as I️ led the audience up the ornate staircase to the top of the great stairs. As I️ heard my Scouse voice ricocheting against the walls singing the anthem of working class liberation which was penned for the Paris Communards, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up.

The Communards and the Wallace Collection are FOREVER connected by the green drinking fountain which stands unassumingly outside the gallery. Most visitors probably don’t give it a second look or read the plaque which gives you perhaps the only glimpse of working class history in the entire collection.

The fountains were gifted to the people of Paris by Wallace Collection founder during the siege and subsequent uprising of 1871.

My piece focussed on Louise Michel, one of the Communards main agitators and organisers. I️ explore fascinating speculations about her sexuality while telling the story of the uprising as quickly as I️ can so I️ can fit it all into ten minutes. It’s a rollercoaster ride through the barricades of Paris in the 1870s to beefs between Emma Goldman and the sexologists and beyond.

I️ then lead the audience up the stairs while singing the Internationale

Illegitimate Connoisseurs

In which I️ call up the audience to defy deference, good taste and cultural to hierarchy to become Illegitimate Connoisseurs.

“Where did they get their money from?”

The next part of the performance acknowledges the Hertford family’s connection to their estates in the North of Ireland. It explores the role of landlords in the Great Hunger. Church and state were able to gain a vice like hold over sex, gender and sexuality as a direct consequence of famine and colonialism.

Details

  • Commissioned by Sadie Lee for the Wallace Collection, “Swing Out at the Wallace”
  • LGBT History month 2014