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29 July 2016

Cultural Commissions announced

Cultural Commissions artists 2017

LGBT Youth Scotland is delighted to announce Film Maker Helen Wright and Poet Rachel Plummer as the recipients of this year’s LGBT History Month Scotland Cultural Commissions Award.


Funded by Creative Scotland, the Cultural Commissions Awards aim to promote exciting, innovative artwork exploring lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender themes.

Each artist will receive a £7,000 grant and support to produce a piece of work to be unveiled as part of LGBT History Month in February 2017.

Fergus McMillan, Chief Executive of LGBT Youth Scotland, who coordinate and promote LGBT History Month Scotland, said: ‘Both Helen and Rachel put forward very unique and thoughtful proposals, and I am excited to see how their projects develop.’

Fergus continued, ‘The standard of applications was extremely high this year, and we are really heartened by the number of artists seeking to make quality art on the themes of LGBT history and equality. We ended up with a not-very-short shortlist of 10 applications, any of which would have been a worthy recipient of the Award.’

‘This year, one of our awards was ring-fenced for an emerging artist. Both Helen and Rachel applied as emerging artists, and we’re delighted to support this exciting stage in their development.’

Rachel Plummer is a poet and spoken word performer based in Edinburgh. 

Rachel will spend the year working in collaboration with an illustrator on a collection of children's poetry re-telling traditional Scottish myths from an LGBT perspective.

She hopes to explore subjects such as gender, sexuality/asexuality, community and identity, incorporating Scottish mythological creatures such as the Blue Men, Selkies and Wulvers.

Commenting on the award Rachel said:

‘As a queer parent and poet, I’ve found it challenging to find children's books which reflect our family and life experiences. What books there are often seem to focus on demonstrating LGBT families to a presumed straight, cis (a person who identifies with the gender they were assigned at birth) reader as a kind of social education,’

‘I envision my project as including trans and queer themes and characters in a way that allows families like mine to see ourselves in roles that do more than educate, roles and stories that reflect the full complexity of our lives.’

Rachel hopes to present the book for publication in time for LGBT History Month, with an exhibition of the poems and illustrations and readings throughout the month.

Rachel has had poems published in journals and magazines including Mslexia, Agenda, Dactyl and RAUM, and placed or highly commended in competitions such as the Plough Prize, Penfro, Poetry on the Lake and the Bristol Poetry Prize. She is a Troubadour prizewinner 2015.

Her poetry has appeared in anthologies including 154 (a contemporary response to Shakespeare's 154 sonnets) and the Canterbury Festival Poet of the Year anthology.

She is a Scottish Book Trust's New Writers Award winner for 2016 and is currently working on her first collection, The Woman who Married the Eiffel Tower.


Helen Wright is a writer and filmmaker based in Glasgow.

Helen will produce and direct a short film, Joey, which they describe as the story of a young lesbian woman with telekinetic powers entering the LGBT ‘scene’ for the first time.

Speaking about the award Helen commented:

Joey's narrative doesn’t shy away from depicting some of the tougher aspects of existing as a young person on the gay scene, which sometimes revolves around drinking and drugs and pressurises people in terms of their self-perception and self-esteem,’.

‘As such, the film is an honest and authentic exploration of LGBTIQ themes and particularly of the experiences of young lesbian women.’

Helen will also explore the use of stop motion animation and camera and editing tricks to create special effects, and create additional material – including in-character video diaries and social media accounts – to accompany the film.

Helen hopes to enter the film to festivals around the world.

Helen’s short films, ctrl.alt. and Bond, both use sci-fi and surrealism to explore romantic relationships between women.

Bond was nominated for Best Scottish Short at the 2013 Glasgow Short Film Festival. Dusty Does Dallas, a short film Helen directed as part of the Glasgow 48 Hour Film Project, won the competition and screened at the world finals in Los Angeles.

Helen has also created comics and zines around LGBTIQ themes. They co-founded Lock Up Your Daughters, a filmmaking group for LGBTIQ people, and the Scottish Queer International Film Festival (SQIFF).

The Cultural Commissions Award will compliment a vibrant programme of events taking place all over Scotland in February 2016 celebrating LGBT History Month and marking the significant contribution lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people have made throughout history.

Previous recipients of the Cultural Commissions Award include Sandra Alland, Lucy Holmes-Elliott, James Ley, Garry Mac and Zoe Strachan.

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