Since 2004, February is the calendar month of the year that the UK has allocated to LGBTQ+ History Month - an annual observance and celebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history, and the history of the gay rights and related civil rights movements.
Moniker decided to have our own little celebration in the sunny town of Marsden, Yorkshire where we visited Cbloxx in their home studio to talk art, trans life and the wonders of Queer Brewing.
Moniker, and the rest of the street art community, knows you best from bad-ass street art duo Nomad Clan, but we're here today to learn about your solo projects - so, take it away! Let's hear it, Jay!
Well, where to start... My name is Cbloxx and I'm one half of queer street art duo
Nomad Clan from the North of England. Nomad has definitely occupied probably the last 7 or 8 years of my art career but recently we've both been branching out into our own solo projects. I was doing this pre-Nomad, albeit, in the murky under ground waters of Leeds haha where it was hard to make anything happen at the time - so the great thing about working with Hayley (@aylo_nomad on Instagram) was that we both wanted to escape and see more and do more in the rest of the world, so together we started hammering it - and that's the launch of Nomad. However, theres a lot more nuance to our personal journeys over these last few years and to return to my own work, re-connecting with myself and my creativity and being able to channel life's strains and difficulties through my art has been really important to, not only, my artwork development but to me as a person.
Seeing as we are here to celebrate LGBTQ+ History Month with you, we would love to hear more about your life as a trans person - for example, what do you identify as?
When I very first came out I just identified as Nonbinary - not identifying as male or female but an entity thats somewhere in the middle - mainly because I was terrified by friend's experiences of transitioning into being male and how hard that journey had been for them, and you've got to remember, this is early Millennium in Leeds - there was nowhere near the support and/or awareness that there is today, this was underground sh*t. During lockdown, I was painting a portrait of Mister Samo, a trans man artist and friend of mine, on a mirror as the canvas and as I was painting them, I also kept catching glimpses of myself and the entire process was so strange but really, really moving, revealing and eye-opening for me.
Mister Samo by Cbloxx
I still do identify as Nonbinary today, but Transmasculine (also known as Transmasc) is my preference. Just as my preferred pro-nouns are they/them, if I was forced to chose a binary it would be he, its challenging for me to identify fully as a male because I am grateful for my experience as female despite it not alligning. I'm going to be 40 this year, that's a long time being read as female. I am embracing certain elements that are within my transition, there's no right or wrong way to be trans, its a total spectrum - just like most things in life.
So, as a solo artist, whats been the focus of your more recent works?
I've been working on a series called "Transcestors", looking into the history of gender fluidity in ancient civilisations. In part its a journey into validating my own existence in some way (whoah, that sounded massive, didn't it?!) I was painting at Akumal Mural Festival a part of Mexico known as mayan riviera. Mayan civilization had a lot of gender fluid Deities. It was looking at the notion of gender fluidity within ancient religion, I guess, which is fascinating to me that it was embraced pre colonization. Many indigenous cultures embrace the notion of Nonbinary, which was massively validating and helped me get a sense that ilwe exist. This hunt and search to find this connection was a very spiritual experience in many aspects and has led me to look at this across the board now - for example, if you look at Greek Mythology - its there, in many, many different religions and cultures - it is there.
Whats in the 2023 pipeline for both you as a solo artist and for Nomad Clan?
2023 is shaping up to be quite the epic year for Nomad Clan - we've got; a good chunk of big walls in the North of England - which is always nice to be able to inject some authentic Northern culture into these areas, one of our first major international commissions happening in Sweden and a bunch more projects happening all over Europe.
Nomad Clan for Moniker Art Fair 2019
Cbloxx 2023 is also taking an exciting form as I'll be releasing a film-based project that is all about my journey - looking at the relationship between what I have been going through on a personal level and what I have been putting out there publicly in my artwork. Its really quite an interesting one
because I worked on it with Co-labs - who has really been there with me for this stretch of my journey - but also because during the pandemic I delved into music production and beat-making which has now enabled me to score my own beats which are featured in this project, its like a whole new medium that adds another dimension to what I am trying to put out there artistically - an immersive experience into my world. A lot of the work I am doing in my solo stuff are more like passion projects - I have much more freedom on what I want to paint, its very purely an extension of what I'm feeling, what I'm thinking, what I'm exploring and its very personal to me, rather than being commercial.
Any artists you want to give a shout out to?
Absolutely, there are so many but to name just a few - these legends of the scene:
Milu Correch... the list goes on!
Keep up with Jay's solo projects on:
Street art murals and projects with:
Nomad Clan / nomadclan.co.uk