Put a Pansy in it!.....

The terrible stories flowing out of Russia right now are horrendous. I have been planting pansies for eight years around the world at the site of homophobia, I now have a lot of flowers to plant all over Russia, though according to this deeply unjust law I would be arrested for the promotion of gay rights. An outrage.

In the absence of visiting Russia my response has been a series of ‘posters’ of virtual plantings in Moscow suggesting what I would do if I had the means, support and opportunity of visiting Russia to plant my little symbols of resistance. The “PUTIN – PUT A PANSY IN IT” Poster has now been seen by over 30,000 people on Facebook and has encouraged an influx of likes and comments on my “Like” Page

What is apparent is that the situation is becoming worse as more reports of homophobic hate crime continue with ever more shocking and tragic consequences. Though Russia is by no means unique in passing homophobic laws the fact that this country is due to host the Winter Olympics in 2014 suggests that the world is sanctioning Russia’s policies. Stephen Fry has equated Putin with Hitler, a dramatic and shocking comparison that sends shivers down the spine. There have been demonstrations and various actions globally that call for the world’s governments to challenge these wicked laws. 

Mine is just a tiny contribution, I don’t have the answers to this horrendous situation. Do we sanction Russia? Do we boycott the Winter Olympics? Do we demand that they’re moved to a country with a kinder government? Do we write letters or sign petitions? So many answers are needed. I only have questions. 

My contribution will be to continue creating images like this one, which intend to share the notion of The Pansy Project: A tiny artwork, just my response to my own experiences of homophobia. Stephen Fry suggested that we need a symbol of resistance; perhaps a pansy is as good as any, planted around the various venues in Sochi or just pop a pansy in the mouths of athletes to show that they will not stand for homophobia. 

I will not be silenced by homophobia. 

Put a Pansy in it!


Cultural Hijack

I'm included in Cultural Hijack which is a group show at Architectural Association click here for more info, the preview is Thursday 25th April 

Some ITV London News Coverage...

Above, ITV News London and below some links to press coverage:

Fast Company 



The Pansy Project on BBC News Website!

A very busy week at The Pansy Project HQ! A mention on the BBC News website has led to a massive spike in interest, as I embark on a possibly ambitious mission to plant 100 individual pansies over the next few months at different locations across London. I'm beginning to amass quite a few locations across the city and as the weather improves you will start seeing pansies popping up. If you'd like to have a pansy planted at a location in London where you have experienced homophobic abuse, leave a comment on this post, Tweet me, or 'Like' the page on Facebook! Simply tell me where you experienced the abuse and what was said so I can entitle the picture I take! Also help me gather more locations by sharing the 'poster' above through your own social networks.

In other news The Pansy Project travels to Brussels in May, a specific 'The Pansy Project - Brussels' Facebook page has been set up in order for people to leave locations in Brussels to be planted at a special event taking place on May 17th. For more information click here and see the on-line brochure below.


2012 Review

Photo above by Malc Stone

As is the custom at this time of year I’ve been reflecting on 2012 and professionally it has been a successful one for The Pansy Project. Highlights of the year include my participation at Hayward Gallery in London with Fritz Haeg where I contributed to the Wide Open School there I spoke about my work and was able to share The Pansy Project with new audiences, a small publication I contributed to as a result of my participation will be available soon.
In May I worked once again with Homotopia in Liverpool, this special collaboration with IDAHO 50 broke new ground for all contributors and resulted in a fascinating documentary that premiered at FACT in Liverpool in the autumn, the film covered the collaboration with the Merseyside Probation Trust and the planters created by participants in the ‘Community Payback’ scheme that were then filled with pansies for IDAHO on May 17th, when the documentary is available on-line I shall share it with you here.
In September I was delighted to be invited to contribute to ‘Truth is Concrete’ in Graz, Austria where I spoke with Richard Reynolds about our respective projects and where I planted several pansies around Graz. The short film above was made there by Richard Reynolds and really captures the mood and feel of the festival which was a really fascinating exchange of ideas. ‘Truth is Concrete’s website is a rich resource and a fascinating read go and look at it here.
Also in September I was humbled to be ‘highly commended’ for The Pansy Project by the Alan Turing Memorial Award, organised by the LGF in Manchester.

I was also delighted to be included in the magazines above. The cover-image for GEM (left) with a fascinating article by Sean Curran about queer art in museums and in ‘Et Alors?’ (right and viewable on-line here) which is just out I was really pleased to finally share the above picture taken by the hugely talented Malc Stone. The piece in this pioneering magazine helps spread the message of The Pansy Project and this image which I think is marvellous and may lead to further opportunities with Malc Stone in the future. For me the pansy placed in my mouth in this context powerfully communicates my intention with the project and expresses the mood of it quite succinctly. It will certainly be the cover of the Pansy Project Publication, which though slow going is coming together, I am still working on it and I’m aiming to get it ready for the spring. It will have some fascinating contributors and new images of planted pansies. The Pansy Project website has recently been thoroughly updated with a full archive of the plantings, videos, and press articles and feels very much more polished than before.
So as ever I thank the many of you that have ‘LIKED’ The Pansy Project on Facebook and my followers on Twitter and for the many international visitors to my blog and website. I send you heartfelt thanks, season’s greetings and all the very best for 2013.
As ever my research continues…..


The Pansy Project in Bologna, Italy

I am frequently asked where The Pansy Project is going next, often I’m happy to be getting on a train, plane or automobile with a tray of pansies and trowel in hand to whichever location requires my attention. This week The Pansy Project manifested itself in Bologna, Italy. Though this time my presence was only virtual as members of ‘Terra di Nettuno’ had heard that ‘Forza Nuova’ (a far-right political group) had under the cover of darkness placed homophobic posters outside a local GLBT community centre, the posters which stated; “Perversions must be Healed” was a clear and unprovoked attack on the GLBT people happily going about their good work in Bologna.

So ‘Terra di Nettuno’ joined The Pansy Project on Facebook and kindly requested my support and permission to plant pansies on my behalf. The so-called “green activists” adopted their “flying-plant technique” and hung a lot of cans filled with pansies in the place where the poster had been hung. I of course welcomed their support and have been delighted with a swathe of Italian ‘Likers’ on Facebook and a flurry of Twitter activity. Apparently there was a lot of local support of the GLBT groups in Bologna from the “whole city and many newspapers” I also heard a podcast that was covering the work at Caserro with ‘Terra di Nettuno’, Guerrilla Gardening, Richard Reynolds and The Pansy Project getting a mention.

So a huge thanks to the Guerrilla Gardeners of Bologna, above is a selection of photos of the team from ‘Terra di Nettuno’ planting pansies at Cassero.

Link to the Podcast - (In Italian) The Pansy Project is mentioned about an hour in:

A Blog about it all here

In other news I had the honour in September to be highly commended for The Pansy Project for the Alan Turing Memorial Award, especially heart-warming as I have previously researched, made work about and contributed to a documentary on Alan Turing so was very pleased. Thanks to one and all for the nominations and to LGF for hosting what I hear was a lovely award ceremony. I received the award above last week and thought it appropriate to share it here.

Also those patient supporters of The Pansy Project Publication will (with luck) soon being seeing the fruits of their donations as I charge forward with my publication in earnest. I haven’t forgotten you! ‘Watch This Space’ for updates.

As ever my research continues


New Video on GGTV

One of the many highlights of my recent trip to Graz in Austria for Truth is Concrete was meeting all the lovely participants and assistants there. Everyone was so welcoming and engaging. I was also pleased to be accompanied by Richard Reynolds, we shared the same stage early one Sunday morning discussing our respective attitudes to Guerrilla Gardening. Richard kindly offered to document the planting later that day. The above is what he produced and it really is a joy. The video captures both the joy and fun of planting pansies in the street and also the poignancy and effects of The Pansy Project. Well worth a watch and a share simply for the quirky music choices and and the lovely Austrian light, it is delightful. So a huge thanks to Richard for taking time out of his busy schedule to make this video.

The Image above is the scene where the hole had been filled which was briefly occupied by the pansy below (previous post) . I should make it clear that on my search for planting pansies at this site, I had noticed a loose cobble that I was able to dislodge and squeeze a pansy into. So I really don't believe the Austrian's had committed a crime against pansies, they were simply repairing the road.


"Truth is Concrete" Graz, Austria

The pansy above was planted to mark the first anti-gay protest in Graz. A film deemed to be pro-gay which had premiered in Berlin was protested against in Graz, the building now houses Merker; an Austrian insurance company which is interestingly one of the first companies in Austria to openly support gay rights.
I have just returned from Graz in Austria, where I was invited to attend Steirischer Herbst an annual festival in Graz, Austria: “Truth is concrete” was an element of this with a 24/7 marathon camp on artistic strategies in politics and political strategies in art. 21/09 – 28/09/2012. Do have a look at their website and explore the other great artists and activities that are happening there. click HERE.

The pansy above was planted as close as possible to Graz town hall. Since the legalisation of civil partnerships the authorities have insisted that gay ceremonies are hosted in what are described as inferior rooms. The gay couples are also discouraged from publicly celebrating their ‘marriages’. This is in stark contrast to the facilities supplied to heterosexual couples using the town hall for the same purposes. This pansy was placed in a hole made from a loose cobble, the next morning the pansy had been removed and the hole filled. I am sure this was not in any way a homophobic act; it is more likely to be a display of an efficient procedure to repair loose cobbles; which are known in Graz as dumplings.
I was asked to speak at “Truth is Concrete” about The Pansy Project also on the program was Guerrilla Gardener and author Richard Reynolds alongside Katherine Ball who was/is inhabiting the ‘Blog Tower’ during the festival. The talk raised some interesting questions regarding the nature of our varying strategies and it was interesting to publicly speak with Richard Reynolds in this context of activism and politics as we were able to examine and explore our common ground. "Truth is Concrete” also invited participants of the festival to accompany me around Graz planting pansies at the site of homophobia, a large group joined Richard Reynolds and I planting pansies and discussing The Pansy Project, Guerilla Gardening and Graz. There is a selection of photos on Flickr documenting the tour click here to see them, there will be more coverage to follow.
Christoph Hartner indicating our next location
As is the norm, my intention was to plant pansies at the site of homophobic abuse, there was however a lack of information regarding high profile homophobic attacks. Thankfully I was contacted by Christoph Hartner who was able to research particular locations of historical significance in Graz through his contacts from the area. What was garnered was a selection of locations of historical and autobiographical significance. As ever, the strategy of planting pansies acts as a symbolic proposition in cities that I visit only briefly. What I leave is a memory of the action; some pansies may survive, though on this occasion one pansy has already been removed and paved over; perhaps a comment on Graz’s efficiency rather than a comment on the nature of The Pansy Project.

The pansy above was planted at Caritas which is a catholic funded organisation that dismisses employees who are discovered to be gay.

The pansy above was planted in Volksgarten, the public convenience was a well-known cruising location during the fifties and was frequently targeted by police who were allegedly heavy handed and aggressive in the policing of the site and area.

The pansy above was planted by Christoph Hartner at a site of homophobia he experienced after speaking at university on gay issues. A fellow student had told him he thought homosexuality was a sickness. (photo courtesy of Christoph Hartner)
And in other news, I've started The Pansy Project 'Like' page. do go and 'like' it if you're able. It seems that Facebook are making groups less attractive, so this might just be the ticket. I added the above picture to try and generate some support please do share and like. Thank You as ever for your support. As ever my research continues, which is, as you may remember continuing to develop The Pansy Project Publication which is slowly coming together. Announcements and news will follow soon.


Rotunda Liverpool IDAHO

Here better late than never are links and images to the rest of the events that took place in Liverpool for IDAHO 2012. Rotunda is an amazing hub of activity and the organsiers put on a great event for IDAHO with speeches, a balloon release and a barbeque for all. Members of the community gathered to stand against hate crime and plant pansies in the shadow of the structure placed in the centre of the field where Rotunda is based.
Thanks to all that made us tea on the rather chilly May day.. Click Facebook for more images


Wide Open School

On Sunday I was delighted to contribute to Fritz Haeg's element of 'Wide Open School' at Hayward Gallery: "The Sundown Schoolhouse of Queer Home Economics invites the local queer community to our temporary HQ for an on-going dialog about 'making ourselves at home' with casual and programmed conversing, cooking, crafting, debating, decorating, demonstrating, discussing, dishing, eating, exercising, hanging out, lecturing, moving, performing, reading, speechifying, talking, teaching, and workshopping related to LGBTQ home-making (inspired by the program of ‘home economics’ developed in the 19th century to educate young women in domestic duties). As a place to queer our ideas of home, it is based in the very queer home of an intimate geodesic dome tent (above) installed over a seating platform and conversation pit surrounded by fruit trees on the rooftop terrace of the Hayward Gallery for their pre-Olympics Wide Open School Program.

I was invited by the 'Avant Gardeners' to speak about my work with The Pansy Project and to introduce other elements of my practice to a welcoming and sociable crowd whist helping with fabricating the rug above. I was especially pleased to meet Fritz Haeg as he features in 'Living as Form' a fascinating book I just happened to reading when I was invited to participate in the 'Wide Open School' the book; " is an unprecedented, international project exploring over twenty years of cultural works that blur the forms of art and everyday life, emphasizing participation, dialogue, and community engagement." It's proving especially relevant to my own practice and research, which as ever continues.


Homotopia / IDAHO / 2012

"Punched" For James Parkes, Stanley Street, Liverpool
The Pansy Project’s evolution continues; I worked with Homotopia on IDAHO 50 a project with the Merseyside Probation Trust, for International Day Against Homophobia, the followiong description appeared on Homotopia's website.
"Can you feel me now, lad?" with beating, Progress Place, Liverpool

"Support International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia. The inaugural launch of IDAHO 50 on May 17th 2012 will be a high profile and visible display of action against homophobia & transphobia on Merseyside. The first city to create, participate & engage in IDAHO 50. Homotopia has collaborated with 50 Merseyside companies & organisations who will mark the day by flying a rainbow flag, or create a visual statement with an artist on the day"

"Can you feel me now, lad?" with beating, Progress Place, Liverpool - Alternate View

Pansies were planted in a rectangular plot in St Luke’s Church Yard, the plot though unremarkable in its appearance represents months of meetings and organising by Homotopia and The Merseyside Probation Trust.

Participants in the ‘Community Payback’ scheme helped plant the pansies on site on May 17th, (above) though not specifically linked to homophobic hate crime the people who took part represented society’s determination to challenge unacceptable behaviour, The Pansy Project in this context reflects an element of society that is affected by crime and chooses to challenge it in a very different way. The ‘Community Payback’ team built planters that were placed around Liverpool and filled with pansies for IDAHO, this action represents an interesting development of The Pansy Project's social engagement, something that I am currently researching for the forthcoming publication on The Pansy Project.

On May 17th representatives of Liverpool council such as the Lord Mayor Cllr Frank Prendergast who helped plant pansies on site, (above myself with two LGBT Liverpool councillors; Cllr Louise Baldock and Cllr Gary Millarand the Lord Mayor) this ritual of planting with dignataries has become a significant and symbolic act that emphasises the ritulaistic nature of The Pansy Project and its ability to mould itself into various forms. Below left to right; The Lord Mayor's consort and daughter; Lesley, Lord Mayor Cllr Frank Prendergrast, Anne Pakula Head of Operations at Merseyside Probation Trust, Gary Everett (Homotopia) and myself speaking at the event.

It seems at this point The Pansy Project is being assimilated by other organisations and interpreted in different ways. This does not always reflect my own aesthetic but does reflect the issues The Pansy Project endeavours to confront in planting pansies at the site of homophobic abuse. In effect this outside activity in my opinion strengthens the community engagement of the work I do. As ever I also planted pansies at the site of incidents of homophobic abuse (pictured top) and it this element of the project that operates as the core or skeleton of my work. It is this activity that has enabled me to communicate with other disciplines, in this case the justice system and IDAHO which helps highlight the global phenomenon of homophobia in all its manifestations. After the event the participants chatted over tea and biscuits at a nearby cafe.....

A special thanks to all that helped facilitate The Pansy Project in Liverpool for IDAHO 50. Further documentation of the days events will be coming soon....

As ever my research continues, also coming soon, news of The Pansy Project being interpreted in another way during IDAHO 2012...