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MAURICE DOBSON COMMISSION AWARDED

Barnsley Civic, in partnership with the Maurice Dobson Museum, is thrilled to announce the award of a new creative commission to three local artists, inspired by the remarkable legacy of Maurice Dobson.

In December, Barnsley Civic announced the initiative, aiming to honour the cultural and historical impact of Maurice Dobson.

Maurice Dobson and Fred Halliday, known for their collection of antiquities, resided as an openly gay couple from the early 1950s until Halliday’s death in 1988, at their home in Darfield, which now houses the Maurice Dobson Museum and Heritage Centre.

Despite the legal and societal challenges of their time, when homosexuality was still illegal and posed the threat of a prison sentence, Maurice chose to live his life, in a proud, defiant way, expressed by his flamboyant fashion and makeup.

This LGBTQ History Month, Barnsley Civic proudly introduces the local artists selected for the commission:

  • Christopher Goggs, a graphic designer known as Chris Printed This, celebrated for his work exploring Queer Northern history.
  • Rebekah Higginbotham, a talented young painter, and recent graduate, recognised for her work which explores the female form through a sapphic lens.
  • Simon Beech, a Darfield poet with works featured in Dreich and Dream Catcher, and author of the chapbook ‘Fox Park’.

The chosen artists, each with a distinct creative practice and identifying as part of the LGBTQ+ community, will delve into Maurice Dobson’s life and legacy over the next three months. Their completed works are set to be showcased in June, offering a vibrant testament to Dobson’s enduring influence.

Jason White, Creative Engagement Manager at Barnsley Civic, expressed his enthusiasm for the project: “This is an exciting opportunity for any artist, and I am confident that the recipients of this commission will relish the chance to explore the world of Maurice. This project not only celebrates a much-revered local icon, but also casts a spotlight on a story that remains largely unknown within Barnsley’s LGBTQ+ community.”

The artists also shared their excitement and personal motivations for participating in the commission.

Simon Beech said: “I would love to learn more about almost forgotten trailblazers like Maurice Dobson, living in the thick of a macho, pit-mining environment and still unafraid to be true to himself.”

Christopher Goggs, originally from West Yorkshire, remarked on his recent discovery of Dobson’s legacy:“As someone who isn’t from Barnsley, I only recently heard about Maurice Dobson and his legacy, but I’ve long been fascinated with the hidden queer scenes around Yorkshire.”

Rebekah Higginbotham shared her passion for depicting LGBTQIA+ subjects, stating: “I’m no stranger to painting LGBTQIA+ people and concepts, and I enjoy it emphatically. I find it refreshing and rather beautiful. There always seems to be a complex narrative within each moment that I capture in paint, and I would love to be able to do the same for the Maurice Dobson Commission.”

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