Safety First (2019)

Safety First is a project that further explores the concept of an “inner refuge” for young queer people. The "inner refuge" describes the shelter the British public was encouraged to build in their homes in the weeks or days leading up to when nuclear war would be inevitable. The shelter this work is based on is illustrated in the ‘Protect and Survive’ civil defence booklet that was published in the late 1970’s, it suggested using doors and strong objects as the base, with textile objects on top that were meant to protect us from radiation and fallout. In this rendition, the artist uses a bed as the main structure of the sculpture, representing how queer people find refuge within their bed rooms from the cold war of homophobia that attacks us from outside and within our homes.

The design from the quilt references the ‘H-Bomb’ film (1957) which was made to train civil defence workers on the effects of a hydrogen bomb and how it differs from the atom bomb that was developed previously. The film has a sequence where it describes the blast radius of the bomb, and how effective shelter would be from it dependant on distance, this is replicated within the quilt in Safety First. Instead of being used to describe blast affects from the bomb in distance, it describes durational distance from the event of a queer persons first coming out and how over time the fallout of this is still felt in everyday life. The shelters, rather than a physical refuge, are things that a queer person might need to hear and tips for their continued survival.

Whilst Shelter (2019) represents a single experience, Safety First (2019) references the size of a double bed and has a photograph of the artist and their partner under the shelter. The refuge is not only to protect the occupants, but it serves to make the work inaccessible to a heterosexual audience. 

This work was shown as part of Camberwell College of Arts Degree show (2019) in the Photography Department. 

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