On Wednesday the 23rd of May, Wallis Prophet and Ruby Van Leuven will launch their first solo exhibition ‘X’ with their latest venture: The TheyThem Collective.
Meet the pair. Friends, housemates, and artists.
Wallis. 25. She/They.
‘I’m a spoken word poet, I’ve been writing and performing around Adelaide for the past four years. I found the need for a creative outlet when I was struggling with mental health and couldn’t express my feelings properly. I found that help through poetry.
I am also a musician (bassist) for the band W.M.N. I am super lucky that the band enjoys incorporating my spoken word into our songs, so I get to do the two things I love most simultaneously.’
Ruby. 23. They/Them.
‘I am a disabled, gender fluid, queer artist and passionate activist.
I have been exposed to visual arts from an early age, I am also studying speech pathology and running my own make up artistry business.’
The TheyThem Collective came about naturally as the two started planning their exhibition. With Wallis’s prose and Ruby’s art, it was a match made in heaven. Their first show ‘X’ (representing non binary gender, ticking a box and anonymity) will incorporate themes of self-love, mental health, gender, intersectionality, sexuality, disability, and identifying as queer.
‘We felt it was important that there should be greater representation for gender diverse, queer, disabled and otherwise marginalised artists… Now is a time when people are starting to become more aware of important social justice in the world and are finally taking interest – those who wouldn’t usually think about these issues.’
‘Representation is so important to us for many reasons, we want to be seen in an environment, which is often exclusive towards disability and erases gender diversity. It helps people who are in marginalised communities feel empowered. If they can see others experiencing similar things to them – expressing themselves freely – it creates space to have conversations that are usually monopolised by people with privilege.’
Although queer, I am white, cisgender, and able-bodied, and due to these factors, I am privileged. I naively thought the Adelaide arts scene would be a pretty sweet place to get started.
‘The art scene in Adelaide is great in the sense that it’s such a small city so the community is quite tight and word travels fast. Those in the same circles are always there to support one another, whether that be at an art show, gig or the latest project.’
‘However, Adelaide in general has quite a conservative approach and attitude towards the arts, so it can be hard putting yourself out there as emerging queer disabled artists.’
Oof. As poignant as ever.
Wallis and Ruby love and support the people around them, fight for and alongside marginalised peoples, and are strong activists in their communities (among many other wonderful things). To come out and support artists who are often seen as ‘other’ – who identify as wom*n/non binary, queer, with differently abled bodies – is a really easy and brilliant thing we, as a community and allies, can do to support the arts and diversity within it.
All art will be on sale as well as a selection of prints. Plus – like you needed any more incentive – it’s hosted at Nagev, who will be serving up some goodies. And live music. Almost too much of a good time for a Wednesday eve.
And find The TheyThem Collective here.
What: ‘X’ by The TheyThem Collective
Where: Nagev, 190 Payneham Road
When: Wednesday the 23rd of May, from 7pm
Images taken by Pamela Boutros