Trans* military veterans are focus of Museum of Liverpool exhibition
The Museum of Liverpool is to host a special exhibition by local award-winning photographer Stephen King, following a collaboration with trans* military veterans and Liverpool John Moores University.
Exhibited in partnership with Homotopia, Dry Your Eyes Princess opens Wednesday 16 December 2015 until Sunday 31 January 2016.
12 large scale portraits examine the link between the sitter’s 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 British Armed Forces.
The portraits are of people from Liverpool and other parts of the country who participated in research conducted by Dr Emma Vickers, Senior Lecturer in History, at Liverpool John Moores University. Her work examined their experiences of life before, during and after service in the British Armed Forces. It is the first research in Europe to focus on trans* veterans and likewise, King’s photographic response is the first to look at trans* experiences of military service through visual art.
Dr Vickers’ research uncovered that trans* people in the armed forces were dismissed in significant numbers before the ban on openly-trans* personnel was lifted in Britain in 1999. She said:
“Many interviewees said that they joined the services 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.”
King’s photographs are based on their oral testimonies as well as his own conversations with each sitter. He said:
“Working with each participant, I was able to construct a portrait, not based upon each person’s identity, but on their experiences, using settings that were influential and meaningful.
“I am in a privileged position to collaborate with Dr Vickers and deliver what has been a fascinating project and humbling process”.
This is King’s second exhibition at a National Museums Liverpool venue. In 2010, Lewis’s fifth floor: a department story attracted record visitors to the National Conservation Centre.
Jen McCarthy, Deputy Director of the Museum of Liverpool, said:
“Dry Your Eyes Princess comes after the groundbreaking Homotopia exhibition April Ashley: Portrait of a Lady that attracted almost one million visitors during its run. As a campaigning social justice museum, we actively engage with the diversity of the city, particularly its people and communities, and their stories. It’s great to work alongside photographer Stephen King again, as well as Liverpool John Moores University and Homotopia; people and organisations who share similar values to us, at the forefront of something unique – another Liverpool first!”
For more information visit liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/mol 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 the largest newly-built national museum in Britain for more than a century, demonstrating Liverpool’s unique contribution to the world. Opened in July 2011, it attracted more than 2 million visitors in its first year, and is the first national museum devoted to the history of a regional city. It showcases popular culture while tackling social, historical and contemporary issues and is a fantastic, free family day out.
The Museum has received generous support from several major funders, along with 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) and the Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS)
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 more than 3 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.
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