The Drag Show: Celebrating the Art of Drag at Beecroft Art Gallery

A groundbreaking new exhibition featuring costumes from Lily Savage and Danny La Rue is set to open at the Beecroft Art Gallery. The first museum exhibition of its kind, ‘The Drag Show’.

A black and white photograph of drag queen Danny La Rue wearing a Mark Canter gown.

From glamour queens to panto dames, comedy kings to avant-garde club kids, drag performance has long been a form of entertainment, spectacle and a boundary pushing, cultural contribution. This vibrant exhibition will showcase the history of drag, explore its traditional associated iconic spaces, stages, places and performances and celebrate the skills behind the artform.

An exploration of the transformative nature of drag, the show will run for a year alongside a full programme of events including live performance and workshops. 'The Drag Show' has been curated in collaboration with the Centre for Fashion Curation at London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London and developed in consultation with a steering group comprising representatives from the Essex Drag scene.

Bringing together garments from household names including Lily Savage, Danny La Rue and for the first time, beloved RuPaul's Drag Race UK contestants such Cheryl Hole, Tia Kofi and Crystal. This exhibition will reflect the past and present importance of drag with a particular focus on drag in Southend, South Essex and the East of England. Featuring costume, film, ephemera and photography, 'The Drag Show' offers a behind-the-scenes insight into the highly skilled and creative work involved in the preparation and delivery of drag.

'The Drag Show' will open with a party as part of Southend Pride's week of fringe events, 7-9pm, Friday 12 July. The official exhibition opening date is Saturday 13 July, coinciding with Southend's main Pride event. A joyful celebration of the worldwide cultural impact of drag the event will also feature a live DJ and screenings. Participants will be, quite obviously, invited to dress to impress!

Cllr Matt Dent, cabinet member for culture, tourism and business, says: "Beecroft Gallery offers a variety of interesting, unique and thought-provoking exhibitions, and this will certainly be no different.

"I am really looking forward to experiencing this vibrant and insightful exhibition, and would encourage local people and visitors to come and see it too."

Ciara Phipps, Director of Southend Museums, says: "Drag is an innovative and creative artform which deserves to be platformed and celebrated, so we are delighted to have curated the first exhibition of its kind celebrating drag in all its forms. Working alongside our steering group has been a real joy and we want to thank them for their contributions."

Southend Museums are grateful to the Arts and Humanities Research Council for their support in the development of the exhibition and to our exhibition sponsorship partner, First Bus Essex.

Published: 8th July 2024

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