Street art celebrating the diversity of people in the public eye has been appearing from Anna Jaxe. Inspired by the importance that she places on people showing off their difference. She’s created a number of murals which are part of what she describes as her ‘Queer Visibility Project’
“I’ve always felt that visibility is extremely important” explains Anna. “I didn’t have any openly queer women to look up to when I was growing up. So I greatly value those who choose to put their story out there to help others. That’s why I chose to celebrate the diversity of folks in the media today, who represent lots of different backgrounds, sexualities and genders.”
Celebrating Diversity in Street Art
Suranne Jones as Anne Lister
The piece that started her current street art series celebrating diversity was of Suranne Jones. The actress plays Anne Lister from the show Gentleman Jack. An English landowner and diarist from the 19th Century. She kept diaries. Much of these chronicled the events of her daily left. However other sections were written in code. These included details of her lesbian relationships. As such she is known as “the first modern lesbian”. This despite the word having not yet being invented whilst she lived.
For a piece of street art it was one which would prove popular. “It was inspiring” says Anna reflecting on the reaction of the fans of Gentleman Jack to the piece. It served as a kind of trigger. Coming at the right time in her own artistic journey. “It was around this time that I was looking for ways to incorporate more of myself into my work” she says. “To make it more personal.”
Tegan & Sara – Shepherds Bush
Tegan & Sara are twin sisters. Canadian musicians who got a record deal as teenagers. For around 20 years they have been making and performing their music. Both have been speaking about their experience of being openly gay/queer for their entire careers. Starting the Tegan & Sara foundation. They fight for economic justice, health and representation for LGBTQ girls and women.
Last year they released a book called ‘High School’. A memoir spanning the early years and their experience with discovering their sexuality. This was the inspiration for her street art mural. “The idea was that they are depicted comforting their younger selves” explains Anna.
Hannah Gadsby – Brighton
Hannah Gadsby is an Australian comedian who shot to fame because of her show ‘Nanette‘. She uses this to openly discuss her own experiences of sexism. homophobia and assaults. “Nanette is the show I saw which inspired my to start thinking about making my artwork more personal” says Anna. Painting down in Brighton she placed her stencil by the Brighton Dome. Depicting Hannah with a teacup and a Van Gogh painting. “I wanted to paint her in a royal portrait style. Because she studied art history and because she is now kind of queer royalty”.
RuPaul – Shoreditch
RuPaul is an American Drag Queen and host of the TV show ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’. A talent contest for drag queens it’s become a huge success. Now he is considered to be the most commercially successful drag queen in the US. “The show often pokes fun at gender” says Anna. “I think its good to have something on TV which is very gay and a bit of a laugh!” The mural in Shoreditch depicts two RuPaul’s, in drag and not in drag.
To read more about the work of Anna Jaxe have a look at our interview with her here.