For LGBTQ+ History Month 2023 - we invited our volunteer Philippa Punchard, who runs our Hackney Art Group, to share artworks which has had an impact in their life. 

I still have my first prize certificate from the Brooke Bond Educational Award of 1960. I would have been eleven years old. The painting I did was a view from a ship I was travelling in, which included dolphins. So, I was already keen on art by then; most of my experiences of it coming from comics – originally from British ones and then from American superhero comics. I concentrated on figurative/life drawing work because of those early experiences. 

Brooke Bond Educational Award of 1960 © Philippa Punchard

 I did produce my own comic strips, including ‘Metamorphosis, which I later produced as an animation at college. The change it illustrated was the transformation into a woman. 

Metamorphosis © Philippa Punchard

After working as a CDT teacher for twenty years and bringing up my son, I spent a few of my sixties working in a bookshop again and produced more artwork.  

It was in 2018, I think, that I was able to exhibit work at a Tate Modern Late and also at a Dulwich Gallery Late. In the same year I also put on my first LGBT+ History Month exhibition (see below). 

The picture that I want to write about is Allen Jones’ ‘Man Woman’. Specifically, the particular one in the series that I have chosen is this used as the cover of the 1971 Penguin edition of Brigid Brophy’s ‘In Transit’.   

In Transit © Allen Jones

I saw a second Allen Jones version, painted in 1963. This has a more complete figure and is entitled ‘Hermaphrodite’. The Art UK website records that this is at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool. The gallery’s website displays some of the exhibits they hold and are gathered for the LGBT+ History Month. These are worth checking out. They include statues of hermaphrodites, the order of service for the first civil partnership ceremony, which was held in Liverpool in 2012, a sequined Lily Savage costume and more.  

The novel is set in an airport. The title refers to the protagonist of uncertain gender and his/her wait - in transit. True to the period in which it was written, there are playful and confusing puzzles in the narrative (as well as a lesbian revolution in the baggage area).   

Hermaphrodite © Allen Jones

Allen Jones’ cover reflects the tone of the novel perfectly, though his paintings in the series predate it. I like the vagueness and incompleteness of this image of a figure in transition. Jones tended to produce many slick images, usually of figures. (He did get justified criticism for using statues of women as furniture, used in the Korova Milk Bar sequence in the 1971 film of ‘Clockwork Orange’).  

I did exhibit my own life drawings and photo-montages in the 2018 LGBT+ History Month weekend open exhibition, trans fashion show and cabaret I organised at the Shortwave Gallery in Bermondsey. By the next year my work was a series of portraits of gender pioneers in the longer 2019 LGBT+ History Month art show and cabaret.  

A short video can be viewed here.

Both shows were for the benefit of Opening Doors. I did produce a booklet of some completed portraits (many completed whilst at the Homerton Art Group – which is a good place to be creative, as many have found) and sent it out. Jessica Kingsley Publishers responded and my book, ‘Gender Pioneers’, was produced through the lockdown and published in late 2022. A selection of some portraits, relevant to the ‘Behind the Lens’ LGBT+ History Month theme this year are at Bishopsgate from the 22nd- 25th February.