Speaker spotlight: Bird La Bird

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Queer Portrait of a Workhouse

In 2015 Bird created a performative lecture exploring both the history of St Martin’s Workhouse which once stood on the site of the National Portrait Gallery and to uncover the lives and experiences of LGBTI people who found themselves in workhouses or pauper institutions. The performance focuses on a number of queer individuals from the 18th and 19th century. The final part of the show focuses on “A Night in the Workhouse”. A Victorian scandal around queer goings on in the Lambeth Workhouse.

LGBT history often tells of the great and the good and the lives of the comfortable classes.  By contrast, this project platforms the lives of the Queer Poor and shows modern LGBT audiences that punishing the so-called underclass is nothing new and that rebellion, resistance and survival is in the DNA.

Bird la Bird

Bird la Bird is an artist who straddles comedy and performance art. She has been described as a Queer Pearly Queen and a Haute Couture Fishwife.

She has been creating ‘Queer People’s History Tours’ for the past 4 years and presented outings at the V&A, the NPG and the Wallace Collection. Her tours combine costume, comedy and gossip to explore history in a fun and entertaining way.  The material is hard hitting addressing homophobia, imperialism and class exploitation. Her starting point is to educate herself and find out what she’s not being told in official histories. Bird strongly believes that all histories have a queer angle.

Bird favours bold playful characters, bastardised Brechtian methods and satirical polemics. 

Bird is a long term associate artist with the Duckie collective, appearing in Copyright Christmas at the Barbican, Gay Shame and many other projects. Her solo shows and group pieces have been presented at the V&A, WOW! Festival Southbank, Queer Fringe Festival, Flare at BFI, NPG, Dixon’s Place NYC, Trashing Performance and Theatre Brut Vienna. Bird has also been a guest lecturer at Goldsmiths, Leeds University, Manchester Metropolitan University and San Francisco Art Institute.

Bird will be speaking on  day 1 of the conference

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