Gil Mualem-Doron acceptance speech for the Safe Space Community Leader Award


SEAS (Socially Engaged Art Salon) is a BIPOC and LGBTQ led organisation which operates a space for exhibitions, events, and workshops. It also offers artists’ residencies.


SEAS’ work concentrates on socially and politically engaged practices and themes, especially in relation to issues of social and racial justice, migration & refugees, disability, and LGBTQ communities.


Founded in 2016, SEAS has become a beacon for socially and politically engaged art in Brighton and south-East England. It is part of the Social Art Network and has links to local and national art organisations.



Where it all began. SEAS at Mualem-Doron's home, Artists Open Houses exhibition 2017

SEAS at home - Refugee Week exhibition 2017



Statement


“So, you may ask, why is safe space needed in the UK’s LGBTQ capital? Well, on the first night of entering our new home, at the heart of Brighton, on New Year’s Eve 2016, my husband and I faced, on our doorstep, homophobic abuse from a stranger, who we learned later was a neighbour from down the street. He didn’t dare to say a word after our home doubled for a year as an art space named The Socially Engaged Art Salon (SEAS), which was dedicated to socially and politically engaged art, much of it by LGBTQ artists. About a year later SEAS, which also supports the work of BIPOC artists and other underrepresented groups, moved to its new home at the Black and Minority Ethnic Community Centre.


Our first Pride exhibition at the centre included works by 65 international and local LGBTQ artists, drawing in hundreds of people and featured on BBC news. A week or so after the opening, one of the trustees of the centre, in a private conversation remarked: ‘It was a great exhibition, but it doesn’t have much to do with the community we serve’. Unfortunately, this remark is not unusual, and it has become a political tool in East European and African countries for some time now and influences diasporic communities too. The year after we made sure that the majority of exhibitors were Black or persons of colour and the opening was honoured by the Mayor who came with the city’s Multi-Faith group. It was also the first time, a year before BLM, where Black and People of Colour took centre stage in an LGBTQ event.


We turned intersectionality from a disadvantaged space into a nourishing place. As it is a safe space for LGBTQ and BIPOC communities, SEAS is also a safe space away from the toxic inequality that has polluted this country. As the LGBTQ community includes some of the most vulnerable and discriminated against sections of society, economic inequality affects the cohesion of our community even more. So is the situation in the arts, where obscene wealth meets dire precariousness. SEAS is a safe space for a different kind of art and artists and communities who have been marginalised in the mainstream and commercial scene. We know that some of the art we exhibit and the conversations we have won’t be seen and heard elsewhere. And we are proud of it. Safety, like freedom, is not only concerned with protection from physical or verbal abuse, prejudice, discrimination, microaggressions. It is more having a place where you can be (who you are). Safe space is also a place that enables you to do, to explore, to change, and to flourish”.


-Gil Mualem-Doron, Founder and Creative Director, SEAS (Socially Engaged Art Salon), 2020.