The Oscar Wilde Temple Events Programme

The Oscar Wilde Temple is a space of sanctuary and celebration.

A central concern of the artists McDermott & McGough, was that the space be used by LGBTQ+ communities for ceremonies, reading groups, community meetings and other special events.

In response to the artists’ intention, Studio Voltaire issued a simple invitation to London–wide LGBTQ+ organisations, charities and individuals – come and activate the temple. Thus far, we have collaborated with 20 organisations, charities and individuals to host over 30 events: from ceremonies to coffee mornings and tours.

The breadth of events has included: The Day of the Dead drumming circle with the Radical Faeries of Albion; a “Queer New Year” letter writing workshop with Kingston LGBT Forum; a youth social with 16-25 year old LGBTQ+ people who are currently homeless or living in a hostile environment; a faith gathering for the LGBTQ+ POC community with the House of Rainbow; and a eulogy ceremony with artist Salote Tawale. The Oscar Wilde Temple has been particularly celebrated and utilised by the over 50+ LGBTQ+ local communities of Clapham, Wandsworth and Brixton.

A wide– reaching engagement programme in partnership with national LGBT youth homelessness charity The Albert Kennedy Trust, runs alongside this programme, as well as regular hosted visits, reading groups and tours with local schools and education partners.

Forthcoming Events

The Trial of Lord Alfred Douglas: an interactive, theatrical experience hosted by Wandsworth LGBTQ+ Forum
Tuesday 26 February, 6.30–9.00pm

In celebration of LGBT History Month, Wandsworth LGBTQ+ Forum invite you take part in The Trial of Lord Alfred Douglas.

“This show is a pub argument – a barney – a row – a spectacular bitch between two old friends about the nature of the iconic relationship between the Uber Queer Mr. Wilde and his “toy boy” Lord Alfred Douglas.”

In 1891, Wilde began a relationship with Bosie, the son of the Marquis of Queensberry. The pair spent four intimate years together before Wilde was arrested for gross indecency. Bosie’s is remembered for his subsequent betrayal and rejection of Wilde during his brutal experiences of being tried, jailed and publicly shamed. The production interrogates popular understanding of this Queer Myth.

One actor will play the defence, another, the prosecution. You, the audience will serve as the jury.

Peter Scott–Presland as Counsel for the Prosecution:

“Lord Alfred Douglas was Oscar Wilde’s last grand passion, and was the single most disastrous thing to happen to LGBT+ Equality in the last 200 years – more destructive than Henry Labouchere, more sanctimonious than Mary Whitehouse, more vindictive than Section 28. By literally and metaphorically destroying both Oscar Wilde and the pioneer of gay liberation, Robert Ross – Wilde’s first real boyfriend – he set us all back by at least fifty years.”

Andrew Lumsden as Counsel for the Defence:

“In the 1890’s Lord Alfred Douglas, not ‘Robbie’ Ross, was the recognisable pioneer of gay liberation. With his ‘Two Loves’ he was the first male poet since Christopher Marlowe to make an unforgettable protest against the heteronormative. Douglas then suffered a catastrophic post–activist burnout. Wilde refused to ‘run for it’ in 1895, resulting in his prison injuries and death, and Èire honours him for that brave defiance today.”

Members of the Jury, what is your verdict? Guilty or Not Guilty?

This event marks the launch of a collaborative campaign between the Wandsworth LGBTQ+ Forum and Studio Voltaire to raise funds for a permanent Rainbow Plaque at Clapham Junction Station for Oscar Wilde.

About the contributors:

Peter Scott-Presland is an author, founder of Homo Promos Theatre, and is an LGBTQ+ rights activist. He published Amiable Warriors: The History of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality and its Times in 2015.

Andrew Lumsden was a national newspaper journalist in the 1960s-1970s and member of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF). Later he was a co-founder of the seminal and hugely important fortnightly national newspaper/magazine, Gay News (1972-1983). He is still a gay activist.

David Robson is the chair of Wandsworth LGBTQ+ Forum. He also hosts Clapham’s monthly LGBT film club Out at Clapham at the Picturehouse Cinema, produces Queer Question Time – a community-led discussion event which aims to educate and debate current LGBTQ+ affairs and is a DJ.

Tickets: Free.

The Oscar Wilde Temple Arts Group
Writing workshops with Juliet Jacques
February–April 2019

We are thrilled to partner with national LGBTQ+ youth homelessness charity The Albert Kennedy Trust, on a wide–reaching participation programme, offering six months of workshops, events, mentoring and professional development for young people, in partnership with leading artists, writers and designers.

The Oscar Wilde Temple Arts Group is open to anyone aged 16-25 who identifies as LGBTQ+. The group will draw inspiration from our current exhibition, The Oscar Wilde Temple by McDermott & McGough, to explore queer and trans art history and politics, collaborating with artists to make their own work. The group will also take part in archive visits, events and workshops.

The Winter programme (February–April 2019) is hosted by writer and filmmaker Juliet Jacques and will explore different forms of writing, including: short stories, fiction and life writing.

Sunday 24 February 2019, 2–5pm
Sunday 10 March 2019, 2–5pm
Sunday 24 March 2019, 2–5pm
Sunday 7 April 2019, 2–5pm

Closing Event: Thursday 18 April 2019, 6.30–8.30pm

All events take place at Studio Voltaire, Clapham SW4 7JR. Travel support and refreshments are available to all participants. You are welcome to join one or all of the sessions.

For more information and to join The Oscar Wilde Temple Arts Group please contact, call 0207 622 1294.

As Time Goes By: a Gay Sweatshop seminar
Saturday 2 March 2019, 3pm–5pm

Conceived and led by artist Conal McStravick, this event considers the work and legacies of The Gay Sweatshop Theatre Company, and in particular, their seminal 1976 play As Time Goes By.

Divided into three parts, the play stages three histories from the “homosexual century” up to and including gay liberation. The first is set in the late–Victorian era following Oscar Wilde’s infamous trial; the second in 1930s Germany during the rise of the Nazi regime and the violent repression of homosexuality; and finally in the Stonewall bar on the night of Judy Garland’s funeral, which sparked the Stonewall riots and the modern gay liberation movement.

Through a series of facilitated discussions, readings and short screenings, this seminar will consider the influence of gay and lesbian agit–prop theatre in consciousness raising and creating new publics for LGBTQ+ people in the UK, as well as Gay Sweatshop’s subsequent influence on contemporary LGBTQIA and QTIPOC performance.

McStravick is joined by Bruce Bayley, an original cast member of As Time Goes By, alongside other company members of the Gay Sweatshop company.

Tickets: £3

Creative Dance Workshops and Sharing
Every Monday evening in March 2019

“What got you through? The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention…’

Workshops: 4, 11, 18 and 25 March 2019, 6.30-8.30pm
Dress rehearsal and public sharing: Saturday 30 March 2019

This series of free creative movement workshops invites individuals to explore themes of ‘resilience’ and LGBTQI+ experiences. Sessions are led by dancer and art therapist Bruce Currie and dancer/dance facilitator Andy Newman.

The project will consider the personal struggles of older LGBTQI+ people to have their sexual identity valued and accepted. Participants will reflect on their positive success stories and ‘what got me through’, whether it was a person, an experience, a thing or a thought, remembering any act of kindness that helped them on their path.

The workshops are closed sessions, culminating in an optional public sharing at the end of the month–long programme.

Participation is free. Booking is required as spaces are limited.

The Bent Bars Project 10th Anniversary Party
Friday 16 March 2019, 7–11pm

The Bent Bars Project is celebrating its ten-year anniversary! Come and celebrate a decade of connecting LGBTQ+ communities across prison walls.

As a small, unfunded and completely volunteer–run organisation, they are proud to have made it to ten years old. During this time, they have built many wonderful friendships and connections with people across prison walls and have supported each other in trying to build stronger LGBTQ+ communities. So come and join them to celebrate.

There will be readings from current and ex-prisoners who have been involved in the project.

With special performances by That Ray and Bird La Bird. Further performances and DJs to be announced.

The Bent Bars Project is a letter–writing project for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, gender–variant, intersex, and queer prisoners in Britain. The project was founded in 2009, responding to a clear need to develop stronger connections and build solidarity between LGBTQ+ communities inside and outside prison walls.

Bent Bars aims to work in solidarity with prisoners by sharing resources, providing mutual support and drawing public attention to the struggles of queer and trans people behind bars. The project also collects and distributes information for LGBTQ+ prisoners on a range of issues, including harm reduction practices (safer sex, safer drug use), HIV and HepC prevention, homophobia, transphobia, and coming out in prison.

The Bent Bars Project is organised by a small collective of people who meet weekly on a volunteer basis to keep the project running.

About the performers

That Ray is a writer, editor and performer. They have performed at Tate Britain, Glastonbury and Latitude festivals, Cologne Art Week, featured with David Hoyle, Duckie events and many other venues.

Bird La Bird is a performer who straddles comedy and performance art.

Tickets are Pay What You Can.

All funds raised go directly to support The Bent Bars Project.
No one will be turned away due to lack of funds.

Past Events

McDermott & McGough in conversation with Alison Gingeras
Friday 5 October 2018, 9.30am

An artist–led private view of The Oscar Wilde Temple, by celebrated artists McDermott & McGough. For this special viewing, curator Alison Gingeras was in conversation with the artists David McDermott and Peter McGough. Together they explored this groundbreaking project, which has been twenty years in the making.

Dr. Dominic Janes on ‘Oscar Wilde and Queer Martyrdom’ with Professor Robert Mills
Saturday 13 October 2018, 3pm

Cultural historian Dominic Janes explored how Catholic forms of Christianity played a key role in the evolution of the culture and visual expressions of homosexuality and male same–sex desire in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He explored this relationship through the idea of queer martyrdom — closeted queer servitude to Christ — a concept that allowed a certain degree of latitude for the development of same–sex desire.

Janes introduced and read from his recent book on the ways in which artists and writers, from Oscar Wilde to Derek Jarman, employed ecclesiastical material culture to further queer self–expression, considering the limitations and ongoing significance of Christianity as an inspiration for expressions of homoerotic desire.

After the talk, Professor Robert Mills responded.

Wandsworth LGBTQ 50+ Coffee morning
Tuesday 16 October 2018

This 50+ LGBT coffee morning is organised in partnership with the Wandsworth LGBTQ+ Forum. Meeting weekly, this group provides space for older LGBT people to meet and talk freely and openly.

Curators’ Tour: MFA Fine Art Goldsmiths
Thursday 18 October 2018

Curators’ Tour and Reading Group: Wimbledon College of Art BA Painting
Wednesday 24 October 2018

Jonathan Blake in conversation with Lou Stoppard
Thursday 25 October, 6.30pm

Gay rights activist Jonathan Blake was joined by writer and curator Lou Stoppard to discuss his long involvement in activism and his life since becoming one of the first people to be diagnosed with HIV in the UK.

Blake was diagnosed with HTLV3 (now known as HIV) in October 1982, at a time when the virus meant terminal illness. He turned 69 this year.

In the early 1980s, Blake began to participate in political activism, joining the Gays for a Nuclear Free Future campaign on Greenham Common (1983) and the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners campaign (1984). The latter was fictionalised in the film Pride (2014), with Blake depicted by Dominic West. In addition to a career in acting and costume wardrobe, Blake continues to be politically and socially active by volunteering for HIV and AIDS charities. In 2015, Blake was given Attitude magazine’s Pride Award for his work in the LGBTQ+ community.

Curator’s tour: Central St Martins
Friday 26 October 2018

Albert Kennedy Trust Youth Conference Social
Friday 26 October 2018, 6.30–8.30pm

Our partner, The Albert Kennedy Trust hosted a social for its 10th Annual Youth Conference at Studio Voltaire in October.

The Conference was themed “Create Your Future” and hosted over 80 young people from across the UK including Scotland, Wales, Liverpool, and Brighton. The Social Event delegates had a tour of the exhibition, before getting to know each other over music, food and drinks.

Radical Faeries of Albion: Albion Fae Samhain Circle
Wednesday 31 October 2018

Samhain is the pagan new year festival of death and rebirth – the dead are honoured and the human place in the cosmic whole is remembered. Incredibly ancient, this festival is thought to have deep roots in the soul and offers participants a chance to reconnect with these roots.

On 31 October 2018, The London Queer Rad Fae witches celebrated Samhain night at The Oscar Wilde Temple – gathering to “remember our kin, honour our kind, celebrate our power and invoke the hour of our magical return as healers, teachers and soul warriors of the human race, reuniting the worlds, lifting the veils rediscovering the Way, reinventing it for today inviting a renewed understanding and experience of the relationship between the living and the dead invoking health and balance mentally – emotionally – physically by honouring all parts of ourselves…”

Curators’ Tour: London College of Communication BA Magazine Journalism & Publishing
Friday 2 and Monday 5 November 2018

Max Fox and Ben Miller on Guy Hocquenghem’s The Amphitheatre of the Dead:
An Anticipated Memoir (1988)
Thursday 8 November 6.30–8.30pm

Writer and editor Max Fox read from his forthcoming English translation of The Amphitheatre of the Dead by Guy Hocquenheghem. Fox was joined in conversation by writer and researcher Ben Miller.

The Amphitheatre of the Dead is a lightly science–fictionalised memoir by the French thinker Guy Hocquenghem, written in 1988 and published in 1994. Composed in the last months of his life, when AIDS related complications developed into paralysis and “his hand no longer responded to commands from his brain,” Hocquenghem never finished this, his final book.

Set in 2018, the novel dramatises the task of living with death by imagining a future of chronic deferral. The work opens with a reunion of dead friends in an anatomical hospital theatre, where the narrator has been for thirty years whilst receiving treatment for “Rosenbaum’s disease.” Hocquenghem reflects movingly on what we outlive, and what outlives us.

Through his writing and political activity, Hocquenghem helped to forge a new way of relating to homosexuality in France. Fox and Miller discussed the novel, engaging with the themes of anachronism and queer intergenerationality in The Oscar Wilde Temple, as well as Hocquenghem’s broader legacy.

Curators’ Tour BA Fine Art Goldsmiths
Wednesday 14 November 2018

Reading: A Wo/Man of No Importance, Juliet Jacques
Saturday 17 November 2018, 3pm

Juliet Jacques read A Wo/Man of No Importance, a short piece of fiction that recounts the events surrounding Oscar Wilde’s trial as well as tales from the decadent literary and artistic circles of London of the late 1800s.

Written from the perspective of an anonymous narrator in 1914, A Wo/Man of No Importance tells the story of Arthur Parr, an androgynous aspiring artist and writer. Parr was determined to get their work published in The Yellow Book, a quarterly periodical published by John Lane and Elkin Mathews from 1894–97, and so became more and more consumed by the glamorous world of London’s artistic elite. As the story progresses, Parr becomes less focused on publishing stories and more concerned with living them. Eventually, Parr’s art becomes their life and a new “invert” identity evolves as the narrative takes a tragic turn at the hands of an intolerant society.

This event was the first public presentation of A Wo/Man of No Importance, a tale taken from Jacques’ forthcoming collection of short stories that tell a potted history of trans people in the United Kingdom from the Victorian period to the present day.

Curators’ Tour: University of California, Berkeley
Tuesday 20 November 2018

This event included a special talk on the history of “Queer London” by Professor Matt Cook of Birkbeck, University of London. Cook is a cultural historian specializing in the history of sexuality and the history of London in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Curators’ Tour: The Victoria & Albert Museum LGBTQ+ Working Group
Monday, 26 November 2018

The V&A’s LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) Working Group is comprised of Museum staff with an interest in using the V&A’s collections to explore issues of gender, sexuality and identity.

They look to unearth previously hidden or unknown LGBTQ histories in the V&A’s collections and aim to facilitate understanding of LGBTQ identities and histories through research, public programming, discussion and debate. They also consider the ways in which visitors themselves interpret and make sense of museum objects on the basis of their own identities and experiences.

Participation: Salote Tawale, Celebrations & Sympathies: Studies in Culture 5
Thursday 29 November 2018, 6.30pm

Presented in the context of The Oscar Wilde Temple, this was the 5th instalment of Salote Tawale’s “Celebrations and Sympathies,” a performative hybrid of rituals and ceremonial acts, exploring the familiar and unfamiliar of daily life as well as the artist’s cultural inheritance.

Curators’ Tour: Camberwell College BFA Fine Art
Friday 30 November 2018

Talk: Philip Hoare: Oscar Wilde and ‘Queer Nature’
Saturday 1 December 2018, 2pm

Writer, broadcaster, curator and filmmaker Philip Hoare discusses Oscar Wilde’s role in “queer nature” and in particular, his relationship to the sea.

During Wilde’s 1882 tour of the United States – which projected him to international celebrity – he paused and extended his stay on Fire Island. A depiction of Wilde holidaying in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper (1882) portrayed him in what Hoare describes as “the ultimate in aesthetic undress,” with flowing locks and a boldly fitted swimming costume. Now known as a popular holiday spot for the LGBTQ+ community; in the late 19th century, Fire Island was a fashionable swimming resort for New Yorkers.

Wilde also sought out the sea in darker times. Following his release from Reading Gaol, Wilde retreated to the French seaside village of Berneval–sur–Mer, where he swam daily.

For this special event, Hoare riffed on Wilde’s documented love of swimming to take in other watery, poetic dandies from literary history – Lord Byron, Mary Shelley, Edward Carpenter, Walt Whitman, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Wilfred Owen, Virginia Woolf and Sylvia Plath.

An Evening with Simon Callow
Saturday 1 December 2018

Callow was joined in conversation with his partner Sebastian Fox.

Simon Callow (b. 1949, London) is an actor and writer, known for Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994), Shakespeare in Love (1998) and A Room with a View (1985).

Curators’ Tour: Christie’s Education
Monday 3 December 2018

Curator’s Tour: UCL BA History of Art
Monday, 3 December 2018

Talk: Peter Tatchell on Harvey Milk
Saturday 8 December 2018

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell considered the life and legacy of Harvey Milk, the civil and human rights leader who became one of the first openly gay elected officials in the United States.

Milk was a loud and unapologetic champion for the participation of the LGBTQI+ community in politics. He served less than a year in public office before his assassination on the 27 November 1978. Tatchell discussed Milk, one of the twelve LGBTQI+ martyrs featured in McDermott and McGough’s The Oscar Wilde Temple, as well as his own human rights campaigns and inspirations.

Matt Lucas’ Big Fat Quiz Night
Sunday 9 December 2018

What year was Queer As Folk screened? Which real life hero did Benedict Cumberbatch portray in The Imitation Game?

Comedian and actor Matt Lucas (Little Britain, Doctor Who) hosted “The Big Gay Quiz.” This was a very special evening in aid of The Albert Kennedy Trust, an organisation which helps to keep LGBTQ+ youth from homelessness. Tickets were £25, the equivalent of a night off the streets for a young LGBTQ+ person.

Curator’s Tour: Outings in Art LGBTQ+ Tour Group
Monday 17 December 2019

LGBT Kingston Forum ‘Your Queer New Year’
Sunday 6 January 2019

This was a special event for members of the LGBT Kingston Forum to contemplate the past year and look ahead to the next. As well as a space for meditation, discussions and writing about the past and future, and shredding past memories and preserving future hopes, there was a “2019 Letter To You” service. Participants were invited to write a letter to themselves about their hopes and plans for the coming year, which we will be posted to them at the end of 2019.

Radical Faeries of Albion
Sunday 20 January 2019

The Radical Faeries of Albion gathered to invoke Queer Spirit and the support of queer ancestors and deities, as they raised energy through invocations, poetry, song and drumming for the third outing of the Queer Spirit Festival.

House of Rainbow Faith Gathering
Friday 25 January 2019, 6-9pm

House Of Rainbow is an inclusive, welcoming and affirming religious community for all people, including sexual minorities and the marginalised.

This special event welcomed all to a gathering of people of faith for prayer and praise, focussing on the individual’s journey towards a reconciliation of sexuality and spirituality.

House Of Rainbow hold periodic meetings at eleven centres across six countries. The House Of Rainbow Fellowship was the vision of Reverend Rowland Jide Macaulay, an openly gay African theologian.

Gay Male Artists Group: Life Drawing
Sunday 10 February 2018, 2–5pm

The Gay Male Artists Group hosted a life drawing class within The Oscar Wilde Temple. This long–standing group of Clapham residents and professional artists meet regularly on Sundays to draw the male nude.

The event was free. All were welcome to join this informal and friendly session.

Curator’s Tour: Goldmsiths MA Art Therapy
Tuesday 12 February 2019

LGBT+ History Month: Queer Stories at The Oscar Wilde Temple, hosted by Opening Doors London
Sunday 17 February 2018, 3-6pm

Opening Doors London – the UKs largest charity providing information and support services for older LGBT+ people – hosted an afternoon of performance at The Oscar Wilde Temple. This special event featured two unique performances bringing LGBTQ+ figures from history to life.

“An Extraordinary Female Affection – The Life and Love of The Ladies of Llangollen” is the tale of Sarah Ponsonby and Eleanor Butler. In 1778, these two upper class Irish women eloped from Ireland and soon became known as ‘The Ladies of Llangollen’, famous for their romantic friendship. Together, they built a home at Plas Newydd in Llangollen, which became something of a tourist attraction. All Sarah and Eleanor wanted was a peaceful and untroubled existence.

The performance by Jane Hoy and Helen Sandler from Living Histories Cymru was followed by a Q&A.

“Hut 8” is an exploration of Alan Turing’s life and loves through dance, choreographed by Mark Smith. Smith’s piece turned Turing’s poetry into movement and sign language.

English mathematician Alan Turing (1912-1954) is considered the father of computer science. He helped crack the Nazi Enigma Machine during the Second World War and was a pioneer in the field of artificial intelligence.

Turing was also an openly gay man. In January of 1952, he was convicted of Gross Indecency by the British government under the 1885 Labouchere Amendment. Turing was forced to undergo chemical castration and ultimately committed suicide in June of 1954.

“The Alan Turing Law” is an informal term for the law in the United Kingdom which serves as an amnesty law to pardon men who were cautioned or convicted under historical legislation that outlawed homosexual acts. Oscar Wilde was amongst the 50,000 convicted gay men granted posthumous pardons in 2017.

Tea and coffee was served.

All donations went to Opening Doors London.

Forthcoming Private Events

Curator’s Tour: The Oscar Wilde Society
Saturday 2 March 2019

Private Booking: 20th Wedding Anniversary Party
Saturday 9 March 2019

Curator’s Tour: Outing in Art Tours Group
Friday 8 March 2019, 2.30pm

Curator’s Tour: University of Utah
Monday 11 March 2019, 11am

Wimbledon College of Arts Reading Group
Wednesday 13 March 2019, 2–5pm