I would say I’m still not currently at where I would ideally like to be, but I am edging forward ever so slowly. I work in contemporary arts as an artist and run a project space called Queerdirect. Through painting and film I examine ideas around power, urban and corporate space, the male gender, femininity in reference to queer subculture in London. Yet getting here and understanding what I do was really tricky as no one in my family had ever studied art, I was the first. My then single mum was bringing me and my twin brother up in south London after arriving from France. Art lessons at school were terrible, there were no queer people in my school, in my class or in college. I joined Tate Collective which helped me realise that the only thing I was good at was all things art related (I couldn’t even hold a job at my local pub in Streatham). Whilst at Tate Collective I realised I should go to university so I enrolled at Goldsmiths University where I studied a BA in Fine Art. This helped me with my ideas and I learned about how art can be used as a tool for political change. I am half Palestinian and identify as genderqueer and have always been fascinated by politics around space as it feels quite close to home. After experiencing some success as an artist after graduation, I exhibited some of my paintings in New York and continued curating events at Tate. I then decided that I wanted to create my own LGBTQIA+ contemporary art platform dedicated to LGBTQIA+ arts all year round and not just during pride month. In 2017, I created Queerdirect which aims to be a curatorial platform, arts programme, and artist support network and so far it has been going great. I was part of The Creative Society’s Step Up programme and through this I was commissioned to run a Queerdirect event in Somerset House as part of the Creative Job Studio. The Creative Society has mentored me and introduced me to new contacts within the arts industry and the staff are so helpful and lovely.
Gaby Sahhar, Visual Artist