Desperate Living

Desperate Living is a major new programme that brings artists, public organisations and informal groups together to test out new and experimental forms of collaborative programming, knowledge sharing and production explored through the lens of LGBTQ+ healthcare.

Over the coming year, the project will explore alternative ways of living and caring through a series of collaborative projects working with intergenerational LGBTQ+ people and starting with artists Sunil Gupta, Conal McStravick and Raju Rage. From Autumn 2021, a public series of research events and projects will take place onsite following the Studio Voltaire Capital Project.

Across the project, we will collaborate with key community and healthcare partners to create a public programme of events which will critically reflect on care and explore LGBTQ+ experience of this. Further projects and partners to be announced. 

While aspects of the programme have been postponed, a new phase has been launched in response to COVID-19 whilst physical projects are paused. We are working with artists Sunil Gupta, Conal McStravick, Juliet Jacques, Fredde Lanka and Raju Rage, with further artists to be announced to offer a programme which will include workshops, live events, support groups, social activities and commissioning which aims to support LGBTQ+ people during this time. For further information click here.

Supported by Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Mila Charitable Organisation.

If you are an LGBTQ+ community or health organisation interested to find out more or get involved, please email 


Sunil Gupta Artist Residency

February 2020–February 2021

Sunil Gupta will embark on a twelve–month residency set within Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust’s adult HIV Clinic at St. Mary’s Hospital, London.

Working closely with hospital staff and patients, Gupta will ask questions about one of the major institutions that plays a role in defining gender/sexuality and collaborate with patients to explore their healthcare experiences as part of their care. The residency will lead to a series of works and a public programme of workshops and events.

This residency is a collaborative project between Studio Voltaire and Imperial Health Charity and has received additional funding from Arts Council England. 

This project has been postponed during COVID-19.


  • About Sunil Gupta

    Sunil Gupta (b. 1953, New Delhi India) is a photographer, writer and curator. He has exhibited internationally and published several books, including Christopher Street, 1976 (Stanley/Barker 2018) and Queer (Vadehra Art Gallery/Prestel 2011). His work is in many public collections, including the Museum of Modern Art (NY, USA) Tate Britain (UK), Philadelphia Museum of Art (USA), Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography (Japan), Arts Council of Great Britain (UK) and Harvard University (Massachusetts, USA). A forthcoming retrospective ‘From Here to Eternity’ opens at The Photographers’ Gallery in Autumn 2020. He is represented by Hales Gallery, Stephen Bulger Gallery and Vadehra Art Gallery.

  • About Imperial Health Charity

    Imperial Health Charity helps our hospitals do more through grants, arts, volunteering and fundraising. Working in partnership with the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, we fund major redevelopments, research and medical equipment at five London hospitals – Charing Cross, Hammersmith, Queen Charlotte’s & Chelsea, St Mary’s and the Western Eye – as well as helping patients and their families at times of extreme financial difficulty. Supporting the arts in healthcare, we manage an Arts Council accredited hospital art collection and run an arts engagement programme for patients and NHS staff. We also manage volunteering across all five hospitals, adding value to the work of staff and helping to improve the hospital experience for patients. Fundraising through major appeals and community events enables us to continue our essential work.

Image credits

Sunil Gupta, From the tape–slide project London Gay Switchboard, 1980.
35mm slides transferred to digital media for ‘Keywords’, INIVA/Tate Liverpool, 2013-14.
Image courtesy the artist and Hales Gallery, Stephen Bulger Gallery and Vadehra Art Gallery. © Sunil Gupta. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2020.