As part of our new ongoing digital festival, #undistanced, we put out a call for queer artists to submit their finest work to share with you all.

We were inundated with hundreds of brilliant submissions and will be showcasing some of that queer brilliance over the next few weeks with a series of virtual galleries.

For our first one, we have exhibited the work of three artists coming from London, Inverness, and Helsinki.

You can see their work below in our virtual gallery and find out more about the artists behind the pieces.

Alex Benecki
Inverness, Scotland

Tell us about your work.
My work ranges from studio to street photography. It’s a distillation of my thoughts, feelings, and experiences.

Who inspires you?
I’ve been hugely inspired by fashion photographers such as Bruna Kazinoti, Charlie Engman, and Daniel Saanwald as well as Wolfgang Tillmans – especially his early work documenting LGBTQ youth.

How are you finding lockdown?
I’m pretty extroverted so it hasn’t been easy, and I miss my boyfriend. I appreciate all the free time though.

What are your top tips for other creatives who are enduring social distancing?
Boredom is one of the greatest stimulants for creativity. Use the time you have to hone your skills and come up with new ideas.

What’s the concept behind the work you have submitted?
This project aims to create a set of characters, representing several behemoths of the fashion industry in order to represent the frustration, and pressure felt by fashion houses to stay relevant in the eyes of the public. This gives them a human, yet animalistic quality, showing us that at the end of the day, while they might be beautiful, they are driven by the fundamental capitalistic need to make profit. Not by the need to create art. Worth billions of pounds, selling products for exuberant prices to a clientele obsessed with the appearance of exclusivity, even when the quality of some of the garments they produce isn’t truly premium. This is visually represented with the use of a bedsheet and a projector to depict world famous high fashion logos. This creates an illusion of opulence using two essentially worthless ingredients, light and cheap fabric, despite this the viewer will still see it as something expensive and desirable. In this way the audience should question their perceptions of wealth and value, and the way society has conditioned them to see certain things – often not as the way they truly are.

Janita Mutanen
Helsinki, Finland

Tell us about your work.
The photos are part of my first photo exhibition project, which focuses on the representation of gender in the media. I wanted to challenge the existing roles and stereotypes of gender, and remind that there’s groups of people who are still underrepresented.

Who inspires you?
I find inspiration in people around me. People who are brave and want their story to be told. And people who keep fighting for a better world.

How are you finding lockdown?
Difficult since I’m living alone and the world scares me a bit right now. I’ve been feeling lonely, and very anxious.

What are your top tips for other creatives enduring social distancing?
Try to not stop creating. Maybe learn some new ways to create. Take self portraits. Also this is the best time for working on your portfolio.

What’s the concept behind the work you have submitted?
I did a photo exhibition around the idea of gender in the media. I wanted to photograph people, who felt like they couldn’t identify with most of the characters they see in the mainstream. I wanted to create this opportunity for those people to be heard and to be seen.

Jamie Edler photo by Ted Mendez
London, England

Tell us about your work.
I’m an illustrator and model originally from Bristol and now currently based in London. My work spans from various commercial, private and personal projects, looking at fashion, society and everyday life. I like to try and find humour and tenderness in hard-to-tackle issues without minimising the importance of them, making them more accessible and less didactic and intimidating. I think my work has grown and developed through looking at issues and topics close to my heart in this way and has helped to better understand myself.

Who inspires you?
People around me inspire me. My friends, my family, other amazing creatives that I follow. It’s amazing to feel connected in a world that currently could easily feel incredibly isolated. Fashion is something that really inspires me as well as music and film. Illustration is something that I need, and if I’m not drawing I feel like something is missing. It calms me and grounds me when I’m doing it, although as a perfectionist, can also frustrate me. It’s helped me process a lot of things that I’ve experienced, good and bad. It’s almost a happy coincidence that I’ve found a career out of this and I feel very lucky for this.

How are you finding lockdown?
Lockdown for me, as I’m sure for a lot of people has come with new struggles and tribulations. It’s very easy to feel overwhelmed when you feel isolated and stuck in one place, worrying about finances and work as a freelancer. However, I’ve been lucky to have a strong base of friends and family to connect with, helping salve the stress that the current situation brings us all.

What are your top tips for other creatives enduring social distancing?
I think it’s great to take this opportunity to try things that you’ve been meaning to, to experiment with your practice and try and enjoy the time, even if it feels unproductive to your current work; it will always have a positive impact. I think it’s very easy to feel static in a situation like this, but it’s important to feel proactive whilst at the same time to not put massive pressure on yourself to be doing everything you can at once. Sometimes, you might have a day where you just need to rest and shut down; and that’s okay! Allow yourself that time to refresh. It might be a great time for you to start that personal project that you’ve been meaning to, but if you find that you aren’t inspired and don’t then you shouldn’t guilt trip yourself about it – it won’t make you any more likely to start that project in my experience. At the end of the day, it’s a tricky situation for everyone but you’ve got to make the most out of it and find a balance that works for you.

What’s the concept behind the work you have submitted?
I’ve been looking at old 80s gay porn magazines and thought it would be fun to create some of my own. I’m thinking it could be the start of a project where I create these mock covers with lots of different people within the theme of body positivity – showing that everyone should and can feel sexy and confident in a context that is very dominated by one body type. This is one of a few illustrations I’ve already created to experiment with layout and colour.