INTERVIEW WITH KI YOONG ART MANAGER @HOSTBARNABAS @YOUREMERALDLIFE @WINTERPRIDEUK

KEZIA DAVIES TALKS TO KI YOONG

ART MANAGER AT THE HOUSE OF ST BARNABAS

Ki-Yoong-1

As the Art Manager at The House of St Barnabas, why do you think it is important to be involved with The Winter Pride Art Awards?

Here at The House of St Barnabas we believe so much in working together. Collaboration for us has always been an essential way to incite change, explore new ideas and share knowledge to achieve the things we need to achieve. And that’s why partnering with the Winter Pride Art Awards is so exciting, it’s allowed us to tap into thought-provoking conversations and to have an active role in new dialogues, facilitated by an organisation that perfectly embodies our values of being Open, Fair and Creative.

It’s exciting for us to be part of an open call for the first time – what a great opportunity for us to open ourselves up to people and ideas way beyond our door here at 1 Greek Street. With this year’s Winter Pride theme being Beyond the Binaries it was important to us that we heard from voices from all around the world, from artists who use their art as a tool of activism and see the world from viewpoints different from accepted norms. It’s then in the bringing together of these voices, exhibiting them side by side to form a collective statement of diversity, that we’ve been able to celebrate a nuanced vision of what it is to be a human today.

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Photo Elzbieta Piekacz

Could you tell us a little about The House of St Barnabas and its charitable work?

We are a charity and social business pledging to break the cycle of homelessness. We run an Employment Academy with the sole purpose of supporting people affected by homelessness and social exclusion. Our participants and graduates (all extraordinary people) are at the heart of everything we do and together we’re building all the tools they need for a future of lasting paid work and independence.

Our work is partly funded by our social business, our not-for-profit members’ club. This is a magical space existing to bring together a community of people who are invested in creating a fair and equal society – most importantly our participants gain work experience here, greeting people on reception, serving coffees, cooking delicious meals, step by step building the practical skills needed for a future of work.

And that brings me to art. We have art hanging throughout our club, essential in enriching the experience of everyone who comes through our door – and it’s doing so many things, of course it is beautiful, it stirs ideas, it is therapy and respite, it speaks, but it also creates impact – with the proceeds of sales going towards our Employment Academy, our art has a direct impact on supporting people on their journey from homelessness to thriving in a future of lasting paid work.

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Photo Elzbieta Piekacz

Why do you think it’s important for projects that showcase work celebrating the LGBTQIA+ community to be properly represented within the creative industry?

Representation is so important. We have a duty to engage with the world we live in, to celebrate it, explore it, question it, appreciate it and understand it. Art has the inherent ability to do this, to widen our vision, to open our minds and to make us more empathetic towards ourselves and others alike.

On a personal and collective level there is so much power in feeling like you’re able to identify with something, whether it be with a person in the public eye, a piece of artwork you’ve seen or with an artist and the ideas they’re exploring. If more artwork that celebrates the LGBTQIA+ community is shared and seen in exhibitions, it means that the community itself in all its diversity is being represented, engaged with, looked at – it is being seen.

If you’re part of a community and you don’t see that represented, in art, in the creative industries, in the media and advertising etc, then there’s an inherent message to you that you don’t count, that you don’t matter. And this message is felt by you, your community, and that message becomes reinforced for everyone else too.

It is for genuine equality, for feeling like you matter and for engaging with some really unique and incredible art, that all voices from the LGBTQIA+ and beyond need to be seen and properly represented in art and the creative industries.

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Photo Elzbieta Piekacz

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