“We’ve been very valuable and very creative and knowledgeable and intelligent and beautiful.”
This is the fun one, right?
The easy, light and frothy one? We’ve just had the tales of injustice and death. Now we’re mid-season: surely it’s time for a good dose of mirth. Some kind of celebration, maybe?
Certainly, Warren Reilly’s work looks to celebrate the intersections of identity as he experiences them – as a queer, gender-fluid, mixed race artist. There is colour and style and flamboyance, both in his personality and his designs. The enthusiasm is infectious, whether he’s talking Marie Antoinette’s Chemise A La Reine or the definition of decent gravy. His brain sparks off in all directions: the “ums” and “you knows” of his conversation covering those moments when the synapses make connections.
That scattershot beauty of youth. Love of life personified.
So this is the fun one.
Because also at the heart of Warren’s work is the need to find out who he is – and also to encourage those around him to seek their own places in this world. He’s already partway there – the DNA test, the declaration of his gender, the knowledge that his obsessions with the 18th century have to acknowledge the darkness of that era – but he hasn’t landed yet.
That’s not a criticism. Not when the journey’s so filled with the promise of wonder.
For Warren Reilly is definitely going somewhere, even if he is still setting a course.
It should never be forgotten that this voyage started with Warren as an outsider. A lonely, imaginative child who didn’t fit in to the town of his birth, who started growing into himself only after he left London for Manchester, but then – and this is the important part – took the bold (and for his age extremely brave) step of returning to that place he was never cut out for.
To make it accommodate him. Not the other way round.
So yes, this is the fun one.
But it’s also the brave one, the strong one and the beautiful one.