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Dairy Drawings and the worlds first secret homosexual society

Dairy Drawings and the worlds first secret homosexual society

Diary Drawings

George Cecil Ives was a British-German poet, penal reformer, diarist, and founder of The Order of Chaeronea, the worlds first secret homosexual society, founded in London in 1891.

Ives is a little known but highly significant figure in LGBT+ history and heritage; Artist Jez Dolan is one of the first people to research Ives in any great depth, and the first artist internationally to create work examining Ives and his legacy. Ives’ archive (comprising of 122 volumes of diaries, written between 1886 and 1949 and a large number of other manuscripts, letters and ephemera) gives a unique picture of an aristocratic homosexual man living through a period of almost unimaginable change.

Ives’ archive is held by the Harry Ransom Centre, University of Texas, Austin, where Jez undertook a research visit in October/November 2014.

Jez started work on the Diary Drawings in late 2014 as a direct response to his research visit to the archive at the Ransom Centre. The drawings are an attempt to create contemporary visual work from a diary which has long been hidden, and is, to the vast majority, inaccessible. The artist has imposed a set of ‘rules’ for creating the drawings, which in themselves will ultimately indicate the ending of the series. Each drawing is composed directly from photographs of the diary pages, generally using two or three diary pages for each drawing. No two drawings have the same content.

Ives’ diaries have been described as: “Ives buried monument to himself”, and are a reflection of his almost obsessive secrecy, whilst simultaneously attempting to forge an identity as a free homosexual man (although the term ‘homosexual’ was not in general use until the early of the 20th Century). The diaries are a plea (albeit a lengthy one) to have this identity accepted. The drawings are a reflection of this.

Exhibition runs until 13th May 2017 at Bury Art Museum.

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Published: 30-Mar-2017

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