Ryan Kearney is a curator and writer based in Nottingham, UK. Ryan’s on-going research centres on queer night-time spaces.


Print | A Map of Queer Brum, Nov 2019

Exhibition | If Memory Serves, Birmingham Hippodrome, Sep 2019

Workshop | Campania, an explanation and a history, Recent Activity, May 2019

Exhibition | The Club’s Conception (or How the Egg Was Cracked), Recent Activity, May 2019

Exhibition | Three Models for Change, Stryx Gallery, Jun 2018

Performance | Rainbow Flag/Trojan Horse, Recent Activity, Jun 2018

Exhibition | A Prelude, Centrala, May 2018

Screening | Queering the Archive, Recent Activity, Nov 2017


Artist Talk | Denzil Forrester, Nottingham Contemporary, Feb 2020 →

Keynote | Paul B. Preciado and Jack Halberstam, Nottingham Contemporary, Feb 2020 →

Artist Talk | Diane Simpson, Nottingham Contemporary, Feb 2020

Artists’ Film | The Otolith Group, Nottingham Contemporary, Nov 2019

Contemporary Conversation | Form and Frontier, Nottingham Contemporary, Nov 2019

Conference | Architectures of Education, Nottingham Contemporary, Nov 2019

Artists’ Film | Jarman Award Touring Programme 2019, Nottingham Contemporary, Oct 2019

Exhibition | From.Between.To, Gallerija Vartai, May 2019
Performance | Territorial Symphonies, Block Universe, 58th Venice Biennale, May 2019

Exhibition | From.Between.To, Parafin, Apr 2019 →  


Review | Love and Solidarity at Grand Union, this is tomorrow, Apr 2020

Text | Some Kinda Love, Celine Gallery, Oct 2019

Review | Ian Giles: Trojan Horse/Rainbow Flag, this is tomorrow

Exhibition Text | Indre Serpytyte: From.Between.To, Parafin and Galerija Varta, Apr 2020

Text | The ‘Gale Comes of Age, In The Pink, Grand Union and SHOUT Festival, Nov 2018

Review | The Oscar Wilde Temple at Studio Voltaire, this is tomorrow, Oct 2019

info [at] ryankearney.co.uk

Nov 2018

I began my research into Birmingham's queer scene through the archives at the Library of Birmingham; boxes filled with gay publications, badges of sexual resistance and architectural plans for spaces which would never be. Two cardboard boxes relate to The Nightingale Club, which formed out of a Moseley house in 1969, celebrates its 50th birthday this coming May.

Spaces such as ‘Gales can so often seem ahistorical; it is a fixture within the city's queer community and many of us have grown all too familiar with its three floors. However, the club's history is a long and resilient one born out of gay-only nights in the city's straight establishments - where drink prices were hiked up for the occasion - and role-playing communities which provided distance from the realities of stigmatisation.

The ‘Gale first operated out of the Queen Victoria Club in Victoria Square before moving to a derelict Indian restaurant – from which the name ‘Nightingales’ was taken – at Number 50, Camp Hill. After the building and surrounding area was bulldozed due to a road-widening scheme, the association took over a football social club on Witton Lane, Aston from 1975 to 1981. However, the gays who occupied the establishment did not erase its patriarchal remnants; women picketed for membership to be extended to them but were not allowed to enter the club until the early 1990s unless accompanied by a member. A lack of integration disregarded the crucial role that queer solidarity played in overcoming the impending AIDS crisis and its accompanying anti-queer rhetoric.

The focus of the ‘Gale was to allow its members to function outside the confines of marginalisation. Founded in the 1960s by Peter Scott-Fleeman and Laurie Williams, ‘The Royal Court of Campania’, was a members-only group and fictional country where all its inhabitants were gay; it was a space where queer individuals could co-exist without heterosexual nuisance. Honorary titles such as ‘Prince Regent’ and ‘Duke’ preceded the individual’s place of birth, and court members were presented with medallions and ribbons from the Rag Market, each bearing the country’s seal in a display of camp solidarity.

The club occupied another premises on Thorp Street in 1981 before moving to its current location in 1994. Endless meeting minutes display a back and forth between the club’s future, accompanied by architectural plans which outlined the potential of moving to The Institute on Digbeth High Street. While the proposal suggests that the establishment would be five-minutes from Hurst Street by car, it raises questions around the street’s functionality and how Birmingham’s queer nightlife could have been different today without the club’s proximity to nearby venues. Nightingales invites us to consider the city’s cross-generational queerness; a symbol of a community’s progression from secrecy to unrestrained mode of being.