In Move Over Darling: The Lost Gay Cockneys, artist Tom Marshman uses the testimonies of over 60s to explore a forgotten generation of gay people in East London.
Marshman’s work is often autobiographical, but as part of his continuing LGBT oral history, he is calling on the experiences of others.
“I guess what inspired me was because often those voices aren’t really heard in the mainstream – there’s much more visibility around younger gay people,” says Marshman.
The project began with a tea party, which Marshman describes as an active social space that allows people to identify shared experiences through a series of sensory triggers.
“Part of quite a lot of gay people’s make up is having to hide something, which is still present somehow – it’s about when you’re open and when you’re closed.”
And in creating a safe space where these memories can be discussed, Marshman has managed to unearth a multitude of memories.
“Within these interviews I’ve heard so many interesting minuscule and massive moments in people’s lives,” he says. “From a lesbian couple being the first to get married through to someone having a little book in their desk which they used to record a list of everyone they knew who had died of HIV.”
The voice of the older generation provides an insight into a number of monumental moments at a time where homosexuality was highly controversial and attitudes towards it were rapidly changing.
“Older gay people have a lot to say about their experience,” he says.
“Some people talk about it as if it was a bit more fun because it was illicit and it was undercover – others were really excited about the change and were instrumental in moving it forward.”
Move Over Darling: The Lost Gay Cockneys is at Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, E1 6LA