Give and Takeover Commission

Rhys Morgan

Image credit: Rhys Morgan

For Give & Takeover Rhys Morgan is exploring the queer nature of the sea and maritime history through the tradition of shanty singing.

The commission intends to disrupt this tradition by bringing together members of the LGBTQIA+ community in the South West to construct contemporary shanties which reflect queer experience, as well as probing the queer and homoerotic subtexts of shanties which have been passed down and reinterpreted over generations.

Having seen a resurgence in popularity, shanties (or chanteys) have a history stretching across the globe through many centuries, with the form that we know today being popularised aboard merchant navy vessels in the 19th Century.

These songs, intended as a method of pace-setting for tasks aboard ships, cover a variety of motifs of life at sea and at port to keep spirits high. For the most part they reflect the harsh nature of seafaring life but also the bullish, heteronormative culture that came with it.

Queerness within seafaring is nothing new, having been explored in literature such as Moby Dick, Herman Melville’s popular 19th century whaling novel which is laced with homoeroticism. This work seeks to give a queer voice to the sea.

Are you interested in joining the Queer Sea Shanty Choir?

Rhys is looking for willing volunteers from the LGTBQIA+ community who would like to proudly celebrate their queerness together, whilst challenging the perceptions of the tradition of sea shanties; and would enjoy singing and performing collectively. The choir will perform in Plymouth and Rame in the autumn alongside British Art Show 9 in Plymouth.


Anyone interested in participating must get in touch by 8th July.

There will be an opportunity to meet Rhys and get more information at the July ‘First Thursday’ event hosted by Queer District Collective, at Minvera Cafe, Bretonside, on 7th July at 7pm.

The choir will rehearse in Plymouth in July and August over 2-3 sessions and will then perform at MIRROR, Plymouth College of Art in October (exact dates TBC).

If you’re interested, get in touch with Rhys for a non-committal chat by email at rhysjsm@gmail.com LGBTQIA+ community members, aged 16 and above, from all backgrounds are welcome.

Image credit: Rhys Morgan

Rhys Morgan is a queer interdisciplinary artist based in Plymouth, UK. His work often explores how queerness operates and interacts with the everyday. He is currently undertaking an MFA in Fine Art at Goldsmiths, London.

To launch MIRROR’s Give & Takeover programme strand, MIRROR has commissioned three South West based artists to respond to the 2022 exhibitions programme. Give & Takeover’s can take any form with the one rule that they must not disturb the exhibition they are responding to and intervening in.

The Give & Takeover commission series has been funded by Arts Council England with the support of National Lottery players.