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Southend’s Twilight Worlds

Southend’s Twilight Worlds is a new exhibition uncovering the complex and stimulating history of marginalised identities within the city of Southend-on-Sea. 

This exhibition showcases an alternative history of Southend through new and existing artworks, previously unseen archival clippings, and objects from Southend Museums.

Southend’s Twilight Worlds consists of a free public exhibition, a new film commission by Amy Pennington, and a publication, alongside an events programme and youth club.

Southend’s Twilight Worlds is inspired by an article published in the Evening Echo following the passing of the Sexual Offences Act in 1967. The article’s author, Louis Blake, writes an investigation into the borough’s twilight world and the three to four-thousand “men in fear who haunt it”. He interviewed many of these so-called “twilight men” of Southend, often highlighting the violence and apprehension most experienced due to their sexuality, despite the introduction of “well-meaning” laws. Even noting how some of these men discriminated against queers of colour.

Over the past few decades there has been an explosive impetus to unearth queer histories that do not continue to centre the stories of urban and white gay men. To rethink Southend’s “twilight world” is to begin to address the lack of accessible queer and alternative histories within the city from an intersectional perspective.

The exhibition is accompanied by a series of activities designed to deepen our understanding of the vibrant histories of marginalised identities within Southend-on-Sea. Events include artist workshops, a series of public tours and reading groups, alongside a fortnightly youth club for young people aged 16 to 25.

Featured artists include The Agency of Visible Women, Sunil Gupta, Ruth Hazel, Josephine Melville (SEACA), George Morl, Amy Pennington, Scottee and Lu Williams. 

Southend’s Twilight Worlds is curated by Elliot Gibbons and produced in partnership with TOMA (The Other MA), The Old Waterworks, Grrrl Zine Fair, Southend Pride, Metal Southend, Focal Point Gallery, Southend Museums and Essex Cultural Diversity Project, and is made possible with funding from Arts Council England and Essex Heritage Trust.

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