Urban Canvas Mural Festival: Meet the artist – Queer-ways
LUCIANO explained that the isolation brought about by COVID-19 inspired him and George (the other half of the Queer-ways duo) to form Queer-ways as a way to help connect people who were feeling isolated from their community during the pandemic. Ever since, they have used art and storytelling to develop maps of the queer history of Melbourne, charting stories and locations of significance.
Through their Retracing Queer Footsteps project, Queer-ways has developed maps that highlight people and locations significant to queer history in the many diverse areas of Melbourne. The initiative was supported by the Australian Queer Archives and the resulting augmented reality (AR) maps are informed by eight months of community consultation, including stories that represent contemporary and historical queer experience.
“A big motivation for us to do Queer-ways initially was connecting people in COVID who were feeling isolated from physical locations where they could be themselves. Additionally, we wanted to give voice to those who’s stories had historically been silenced - people like Val Eastwood or Harriet Elphinstone Dick, who played a crucial part in the development of St Kilda and Melbourne’s culture but aren’t really recognised and celebrated for their contributions, because they were queer.”
Queer-ways was inspired to take part in the Urban Canvas Mural Festival to represent the rich queer history of St Kilda. Having completed a mural in Yarra, they were keen to build on this by creating an artwork that reflects the queer contributions that established the St Kilda we know today. The festival also enabled them to install the augmented reality map of St Kilda in a more permanent way, after their short-term mural along the St Kilda Pier hoardings was removed.
The duo has taken to Jackson Street as part of the festival to highlight the enormous contributions made by queer pioneers in our City.
“The mural celebrates the contributions that people have made in St Kilda. It features different people significant to St Kilda’s queer history marching in the Pride March down Fitzroy Street.”
“We wanted the mural to represent the whole spectrum of the LGBTQIA+ community, so we made reference to history and locations significant to different parts of our community.”
The location of the mural itself is significant by its proximity to the Victorian Pride Centre, creating a keen sense of space and context for the artwork. The artwork includes an AR component where you can retrace the queer footprints of St Kilda by scanning the QR code.
“By scanning over the augmented reality map, people are guided by local drag queen Cerulean’s voice through St Kilda’s queer history. You can learn about the locations featured and explore their connections.”
Because the AR maps and locations were in large part contributed by the community, they form a permanent record of the queer experience in our City and beyond.
“Even though we have finished illustrating our maps, people are still able to contribute to the digital map on our website. We hope to have a record of locations of significance for the queer community from around Victoria. It could be as simple as something that happened in this corner or something that happened at this train station.“
Luciano explained how the artwork and maps are designed to have cross-generational appeal.
“For older people, particularly people who faced criminalisation for their sexual identity, the maps are a really significant project…seeing their stories represented was significant to them and often elicited an emotional response. They finally felt represented and supported, which is the opposite of what they experienced throughout their lives.”
The project also connects young people to those who came before them providing the stories and context.
“For young queer people it’s an acknowledgement of the contributions people made to society that have resulted in the freedoms that we now experience.
We hope that the local community will interact with the artwork and AR map, so that they can learn about St Kilda’s queer history and view St Kilda through a new lens. We want to make people a bit more curious about the lived experience of different people in our City and question how we don’t know everything that happens in every story.”
Check out the mural and remember to scan the QR code for the full AR experience at 34 Jackson Street (Jackson Street car park).
Learn more about the Urban Cavas Mural Festival: Urban Canvas Mural Festival 2023, Melbourne AU
Queer-ways - Retrace the queer history in your City:
Website: Queer-ways: Retracing Melbourne's Queer Footprint (queerways.au)
Digital Queer Map of Melbourne and AR Maps: Exhibition | Queer-ways (queerways.au)
George Keats: Website