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Trans* Army vets' exhibition

Posted on Wednesday 9th December 2015
Stephen King image

Dry Your Eyes Princess to open at Museum of Liverpool

The Museum of Liverpool is to host Dry Your Eyes Princess, an exhibition of photographs by award-winning photographer Stephen King.

The exhibition has been created in collaboration Dr Emma Vickers, Senior Lecturer in History, at Liverpool John Moores University, and exhibited in partnership with Homotopia.

Dry Your Eyes Princess opens Wednesday 16 December 2015 until Sunday 31 January 2016.

King has created 12 large-scale portraits featuring trans* British Armed Forces veterans from Liverpool and other parts of the country in settings that examine the link between gender identity and their experience of military service. The title is an ironic re-appropriation of the derogatory command to toughen up, that is to ‘dry your eyes princess’, heard by many of the exhibition’s participants whilst serving in the Forces.

Those who were photographed participated in research conducted by Dr Vickers which examined their experiences of life before, during and after service. It is the first research in Europe to focus on trans* veterans and likewise, King’s response is the first to look at trans* experiences of military service through visual art.

Dr Emma Vickers said:

“Trans* personnel in the UK were dismissed in significant numbers before 1999, and because of the limited understandings of trans* identities, officials tended to confuse gender identity with sexual identity. Many of the people I interviewed joined the Armed Forces as a form of therapy in the hope that the hyper-masculinity of the forces would rid them of the discomfort they felt with their gender identity.”

Stephen King said:

“The settings and themes in each photograph drew on my own conversations with each subject as well as their oral testimonies used in Dr Vickers’ research. Having their true identity denied for so long, it was crucial to the success of each image that the collaboration represented each person faithfully and with integrity.”

Jen McCarthy, Deputy Director of the Museum of Liverpool, said:

“Dry Your Eyes Princess deals with issues that understandably are challenging for those who come to realise they are trans*. Opening just a few weeks after Trans* Day of Remembrance which commemorates the lives of those who have died as a direct result of their trans* identity, through suicide or violence, the Museum of Liverpool is thrilled to host the exhibition. I hope Dry Your Eyes Princess encourages a dialogue with our visitors, tolerance and understanding.”

For more information visit liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/dryyoureyesprincess

Trans* - an umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from the sex they were assigned at birth.

Notes to editors

Museum of Liverpool  
The Museum of Liverpool is one of the country’s most visited museums outside of London. It is the largest newly-built national museum in Britain for more than a century, demonstrating Liverpool’s unique contribution to the world. The first national museum devoted to the history of a regional city, it showcases popular culture while tackling social, historical and contemporary issues. It has attracted more than two million visitors since opening in July 2011. The prestigious Council of Europe Museum Prize for 2013 was awarded to the Museum for its commitment to human rights as well as its work with children and families from all backgrounds. The Museum has received generous support from several major funders, and grants from trusts and foundations, corporate support and individual donations. Major funders include the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA), The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS),Garfield Weston Foundation and the Clore Duffield Foundation.  

The Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) was responsible for the sustainable economic development and regeneration of England’s Northwest and had five key priorities: Business, Skills and Education, People and Jobs, Infrastructure and Quality of Life.  

The European Development Fund (ERDF) is making a real difference to people and businesses in the North West. With €755 million to invest between 2007 and 2013, ERDF is enhancing the competitiveness of the region’s economy by supporting growth in enterprise and employment. ERDF in the North West is managed by the Department for Communities and Local Government – for further information visit www.communities.gov.uk/erdf.   Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) sustains and transforms a wide range of heritage for present and future generations to take part in, learn from and enjoy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage.  HLF has supported more than 30,000 projects allocating £4.5billion across the UK.  www.hlf.org.uk

About National Museums Liverpool
National Museums Liverpool comprises eight venues, including some of the most visited museums in England outside of London. Our collections are among the most important and varied in Europe and contain everything from Impressionist paintings and rare beetles to a lifejacket from the Titanic. We attract nearly 2.7 million visitors every year. Our venues are the Museum of Liverpool, World Museum, the Walker Art Gallery, Merseyside Maritime Museum, International Slavery Museum, Border Force National Museum, Sudley House and the Lady Lever Art Gallery. 

About Stephen King
Award-winning photographer Stephen King lives in Liverpool. With a background in editorial photography, in 1998 he co-founded Document magazine where he was Senior Photographer / Photography Editor for 10 years. His personal practice is based upon social documentary, portraiture and communities, with a focus on identity and place. His projects have explored dementia, military veterans, community activists, workplace and masculinity. He lectures in photography on Merseyside as well as undertaking commercial commissions and developing personal projects, he has exhibited widely across the UK.

Visit stephenkingphotography.co.uk  Twitter: @StephenKingFoto

About Emma Vickers
Emma is a senior lecturer in History at Liverpool John Moores University. Her first monograph, Queen and Country: Same Sex Desire in the British Armed Forces, 1939-1945 explores the complex intersection between same-sex desire and service in the British Armed Forces during the Second World War. Emma has published articles in the Lesbian Studies Journal (2009) and Feminist Review (2010) and is currently working with Corinna Peniston-Bird on the edited collection Lessons of War (Palgrave, 2016) which takes up the invitation offered by the 70th anniversary of the end of the war to evaluate how gender history contributes, nuances and challenges existing understandings of the Second World War.

About Homotopia
Homotopia is an arts and social justice organisation. It draws on the LGBT experience to unite and regenerate communities through the production, promotion and commissioning of great art, heritage and culture for everyone. The Homotopia Festival, which was founded in2004, takes place every Autumn across Liverpool. This year’s festival started with a photographic exhibition by Deutsche Borse nominated Zanele Muholi and includes; prize-winning authors of fiction and non-fiction Diana Souhami and Sarah Waters, premieres of new theatre and dance, rare and classic films, two transgressive, ground-breaking museum exhibits and a debate about art and activism. Homotopia is funded by Arts Council England as a National Portfolio Organisation and by Liverpool City Council. www.homotopia.net