The art of giving back

A collage of a nude man.

With the return of its annual sale of work by queer artists, where all proceeds go to LGBTQ+ initiatives, member-run art agency Artiq is supporting community through charity

By Louise Wise Thur, Jul 16, 2020

Member Patrick McCrae is the founder and CEO of Artiq, an arts agency that specialises in pairing artists with businesses on special projects, be that leasing artworks or curating art programmes. In 2018, he set up Queer Frontiers, a sale of work by queer artists where all the proceeds would go to charity. The third edition was all set to roll out this summer, with an exhibition in London’s Soho, when COVID-19 hit. Here, he explains how the sale has still ended up going ahead, and why it’s more relevant than ever.
A colourful expressionist painting.
An abstract painting of red and black shapes.

‘It’s important to show the society in which we live, and the art world has a duty to do that better. Queer Frontiers was established to focus on queer artists, and allies who are tackling queer subjects to underline that’

Let’s go back to the beginning – what led you to start the charity initiative in the first place?

I started the first Queer Frontiers in 2017. As a gay man, and more specifically a gay CEO, I was thinking how I could leverage the network that I’d built throughout my 10-year career to raise money for LGBTQ+ charities I’d worked with, and also to showcase queer artists and allies from around the world. In 2017, it was a really small event right next to the Admiral Duncan on Old Compton Street. And then for the second edition in 2019, Hiscox sponsored it properly, and we had 20 global artists, from Brazil to Poland to South Africa. We raised about £27,000 for the Albert Kennedy Trust and Switchboard. And so this year, we were all geared up to go again, but coronavirus took the wind out of our sails. We were like, maybe we’ll just wait until next year – and then someone said, why don’t we just do it? 

How will this year’s edition be different?

We’ve got even more of a diverse collection of artists, from Alia Romagnoli who’s a queer Italian-Indian artist, right through to Ricardo Peris, an awesome Spanish illustrator. We’re conscious of the fact that people will be looking at it from home (it’s all pictures, not sculpture). And also, because of coronavirus, we know that everyone will be conscious of their pocket, so we tried to keep the works more affordable. So, one print is £30, there’s another at £180, and then it goes all the way up to around £5,000. And we’ve got some quite high-profile artists involved, like Maser, an Asian-Irish street artist, and Helen Beard, whose artwork is of a lady, um, engaged in a self-sex act. 

Do you have a personal favourite? 

They’re all great. I absolutely love Romagnoli’s work. The piece ‘Sparked’ is really beautiful. It’s inspired by 1970s and 1980s Bollywood films, and it’s a collaboration with her friend who’s a henna artist. They’re just really gorgeous and really sexual as well. Also, Z’ev Faith, a trans artist. It’s just a very raw study of his body and the process of transitioning. Sometimes, when people talk about trans, they talk about before and after, and it’s never about the during. He’s in the midst of his transition, and is showing how raw it was, and is. 
Two women kissing.

‘I have seen many different friends now buying art; they’re considering what’s on their walls, curating Zoom calls, thinking about what should be behind them’