“LGBTQ+ stories are global stories. In Northern Ireland these stories are still being extrapolated from the wealth of archives from community researchers as well as with academic support within public records. These experiences are ones that connect a national and global interconnectivity that builds a bigger story of marginalisation. Within a region of post-conflict due to the effects of partition, the stories of LGBTQ+ people are pivotal in understand the wider consequences of imperialism and therefore conflict resolution. Building these relationships on an international level with other regions of post or continuing conflict can assert Northern Ireland in a wider global creative context.”
Thomas Wells is an artist and curator currently based in Belfast. Working as a programmer for the National Museums Northern Ireland, they have previously worked as a Curatorial Assistant at the MAC, Belfast and as Co-Director of Catalyst Arts Belfast. Collaboration sits at the centre of their practice, working within different collective structures and organisations on projects in Ireland and the UK.
In 2020, Thomas launched SAM’S EDEN, a LGBTQ+ arts publication featuring collaborations between artists and writers. In 2022, they were commissioned by the MAC to produce Issue 2 with Northern Ireland LGBTQ+ organisation The Rainbow Project. The aim of SAM’S EDEN is to explore barriers to cultural institutions through access to a range of arts and creative activities. Issue 2 will be released in April 2023.
Their current project focuses on rural LGBTQ+ experience in the north of Ireland. Working with a number of partners, Thomas will produce ‘Bona Palooza’ at Ulster Folk Museum in 2022, a micro festival exploring the experience of Ireland’s LGBTQ+ rural community.
Thomas also has an artistic practice and has been selected as one of four artists for Tongue + Heart by Outburst Arts. He often situates the work in the intimacy of domestic spaces, using layered imagery to elicit feelings of nostalgia. Much like the early 00’s trend of the deconstructed dessert, his aims in this programme are to focus on specific elements of the dinner party, layering images, sounds, text and action into a trifle like performance to facilitate a happening. His work through Tongue + Heart will pull on all strands of his practice to create a new performance work exploring themes of queer identity and heritage in Belfast.