Queering the Wye unites LGBTQI+ folk in the area to explore the festival theme of HUMAN⇋NATURE, ensuring voices are heard and represented. Led by Aimee Blease-Bourne, the project aims to create an archive of LGBTQ+ experiences and collect ideas, concerns, dreams and wishes about art, nature and being LGBTQ+ here and now. Originally started as a 12 week project in early 2022, it has grown and developed since then. Scroll down for info about our podcast, projects that have just happened, and future projects on their way in 2023 and 2024.
We have produced a set of beautiful and original Queer Nature Cards, exploring diversity within nature.
If you would like to buy a set of our Queer Nature cards (£12 + £1.50 postage and packaging) you can do so here!
2022 Youth Podcast
We made an LGBTQI+ podcast with youth groups in Monmouthshire, exploring different experiences of nature as defined by queer people in the Wye Valley. Queer to us is a collective and creative term used to describe LGBT+ community. What is it to create a safe space through sound? We are giving queer people, who are often marginalised, a space to discuss issues that affect them. There is a stereotype of queer people within the urban landscape, and we want to challenge this and bring more visibility to rural queer folks. We are weaving together the geographically separated communities and individuals across the area and creating an archive made by and for our communities. The work included a gathering at Biblins Campsite in the Wye Valley where the young people participated in craft activities and enjoyed being out of doors.
Project lead Aimee says:
‘As a queer woman, I want to investigate nature, specifically the River Wye, through the lens of queer ecology. Building relationships between people and place, the project will promote environmental stewardship and nourish the souls of folk who have been made to feel like they don’t belong. I want to utilise skills such as fire building and other naturalist knowledge to rekindle relationships with the natural world. It is increasingly empowering to learn survival and earth-based skills. It provides a sense of peace in an uncertain world. I want to question perceptions of the natural world and reframe them based on sexuality and gender. The natural world does not have binaries: nature, like the river, must take its course. It is fluid and flexible. Like gender and sexuality, nature has a depth of diversity.’
Project partners include Monmouthshire County Council, Monmouth Youth Service, Queer Dye Clothing, Hay on Wye Pride, Hereford Pride, Basecamp Cooperative, Chepstow, Biblins Camp Site, Jennifer Singleton, Bronte Williams, Nicola Goff, Isla Badenoch, Rachel and Cam Adams, Boo La Crux.
Trans Post Project
We are delighted to be part of the Trans Post Project at the Attenborough Arts Centre at Leicester University. Aimee attended the workshop by artist, author and trans campaigner @foxfisher where they explored the theme of Trans Rebels and began creating a postcard design. This is Aimee’s submission, which will be exhibited online soon.
Drag Declares Emergency with Lady Kitt
In April and May 2023 we worked with Craftspace and Lady Kitt to deliver this exciting and thought-provoking online workshop with young people in Monmouthshire. This event is part of the Drag Declares Emergency project and #EcoDragChallenge developed by Lady Kitt and commissioned by Craftspace.
Upcoming projects Autumn 2023 – 2024
Forest of Dean LGBTQ+ Youth Group
From September 2023 we will be working across the Forest of Dean to provide monthly LGBTQ+ youth sessions with a creative, environmental, and craftivist focus. Many thanks to the support we have received from Gloucestershire Community Foundation and the High Sheriff of Gloucestershire Funds. The sessions will be held in Coleford and Cinderford. Keep an eye on our Instagram page for more information @queeringthewye
Safer Spaces Ally Scheme
We are working with youth groups in Monmouthshire to deliver a Safer Spaces Scheme in our local towns. Under this scheme, businesses, and public and voluntary sector organisations sign up and mark their organisation as a safer space by displaying our poster, putting the campaign logo in their window, and undertaking training to guide staff about how to deal with discrimination and challenge prejudice.
This will help us create a network/directory of safe spaces available online and advertised locally and nationally.
Over 2023 and 2024 we are working with Pride groups across the region and queer ecologists and artists to deliver queer ecology workshops. These will inspire us to create designs for our silk banners which we will showcase at the River Festival and Pride events in 2024. We will be attending Hay Pride on 17th June with information about us and our upcoming projects and some printing workshops. Hope to see you there!
Craftivism in Herefordshire
We are working with Craftspace to deliver a participatory LGBTQ+ contemporary craft project involving co-creation workshops and engagement between queer artists and a group of queer young people in Herefordshire. The purpose is to introduce the young people to ‘craftivism’ (craft+activism) with a focus on environmental activism linked to the Wye Valley resulting in the production of a ’how to’ digital resource that can be shared with and activated by others. Bespoke activity tailored by and for LGBTQ+ communities is a means for them to connect, flourish and have their voices heard. New alliances and partnerships will be forged between Craftspace, the Wye Valley River Festival ‘Queering the Wye’ project, Hereford Pride, youth groups, and regional artists.
About Creative Community Champion Aimee Blease-Bourne:
Aimee has 20 years’ experience working in the community with young people. She is a writer and artist with a passion to weave alternative histories about people, place and nature. She has developed a scrapbooking tool, Mindful Scrapbooking, which not only creates art, but also helps others to record their observations, thoughts, evaluations, poetry, art and conversations. As a doctoral researcher, she investigates the connections between people and places through creative, counter-cultural and exploratory experiences.
Contact Aimee at firstname.lastname@example.org or join in with the project via our social media:
Photos of Queering the Wye Gathering April 2022 by Bronte Fae Photography