Queer Sex Workshop

Charleston, UK

Exploring themes of sex, intimacy, gender and identity, the group exhibition Very Private? presents a selection of Duncan Grant’s recently discovered erotic drawings alongside responses by six contemporary artists – Somaya Critchlow, Harold Offeh, Kadie Salmon, Tim Walker, Alison Wilding and Ajamu X.

Drawn during the 1940s and 50s when sex between men was still illegal in England, these private drawings by Grant were previously feared lost. Instead, they were secretly passed down through the queer community, from lover to lover, friend to friend.

Wildly imaginative, intimate, sensual and fun, the drawings have garnered attention from around the world since they were gifted to Charleston in October 2020. From watercolour, collage and photography to sculpture and video, the new contemporary responses to the drawings examine the struggle between private and public, sexual liberation, prejudice and love.

Harold Offeh's work, Queer Sex Workshop, invited 7 participants from the LGBTQI+ community for a one-off filmed workshop exploring questions of queer erotica, sexual desire and the dynamics of public and private fantasy through a number of practical drawing activities and resulting discussions.

The project used artist Duncan Grant’s collection of erotic drawings as a starting point. Produced over a number of years, his drawings became a space for him to explore his sexual desire during a period when homosexuality was criminalised in post-war UK. As such, they formed a much more private element of his practice.

Harold Offeh brought an intersectional and intergenerational group together for one day to think about the relationship between public and private queer desire and the dynamics of sexual fantasy and how that has evolved from Grant’s period to now. The workshop contextualised the history of queer eroticism not only through Grant's work but through a wider history of queer sexual imagery. Bringing people together for the workshop sought to echo Charleston’s function as a retreat and creative hub for members of the Bloomsbury group.

Images: Kristina Pringle

Workshop participants:

Gold Akanbi - @goldmakanbi
Sam Cottington - @y35dqddy
Samson Dittrich - @cocacolacommunist
Lesley Greening Lassoff - @lesleygreeninglassoff_painter
Yas Lime - @yasmynnettle
Liaqat Rasul - @liaqatrasulart
Rieko Whitfield - @riekowhitfield