A new exhibition opens on Monday 3 February at the The Oriel Joanna Field Gallery at the Torch Theatre in Milford Haven, showcasing the work of artist Annabelle May Hampton. Here Hampton explores her journey as a transgender artist and the importance for Wales of LGBT History Month.
I have had many careers, from psychiatric nursing to teaching. I seemed to be unable to focus on any and failed to “reach my potential”. Being trans dominated everything, and despite several attempts to become more male than male I failed miserably. My earliest memory of dressing was aged six. My mother did take me to the doctors, aged 12, where I was told to do plenty of cross country running. A different generation… Anyway, I did become very good at running but it failed to stop my dressing. One constant in my life has been my desire to draw and paint, like my trans status it has been with me all my life.
In later life, I finally grasped the nettle and was eventually referred to the Gender Identity Clinic at Charing Cross Hospital five years ago, and was prescribed hormones and testosterone reducing injections. I have been living full time in my preferred gender, female, for the past five years. Finally, in September 2018 I had gender reassignment surgery at Charing Cross Hospital.
I now identify as a transwoman. I am an artist, sometime poet, and storyteller, not necessarily in that order. I also work as a cleaner. It helps pay the rent. Just.
I did a BA in Fine Art at Birmingham Institute of Art and Design and an MA in Fine Art (Painting) at Aberystwyth University. I worked as hard as anything to support myself through both and succeeded in selling two paintings to the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth.
I paint and draw in my flat (any offers of cheap/free studio space are welcome. I am running out of room!) My work varies in scale. My chosen medium is oil/acrylic paint on canvas and paper, although I do like detailed pencil work as well and have experimented with photo montage. Subject matter mirrors my life, obviously trans-orientated but also landscape work. It somehow reflects my mental state, not a simple representation but a reflection of mood and emotion. Observed and subjective simultaneously. Above all else enjoy viewing the work.
Future plans are to enjoy my life in my preferred gender and to maybe realise my potential as an artist. This exhibition runs from Monday 3 to Friday 28 February and can be viewed at all times when the theatre and adjoining café is open. The Oriel Joanna Field Gallery at the Torch Theatre in Milford Haven features the best of Pembrokeshire’s vibrant arts scene alongside work from further afield.
TRANSCAPE: AN EXHIBITION OF TRANSGENDER ART FOR LGBT HISTORY MONTH
Oriel Joanna Field Gallery, Torch Theatre, Milford Haven
Monday 3 – Friday 28 February
Private Viewing/Presentation Saturday 8 February, 7.00pm
Supported by the Arts Council of Wales