Photography by Rahil Ahmad

Queer Britain has announced the winner of their second annual Art Award at a special reception in London.

Supported by wine brand Madame F, the prize celebrates creativity in queer artists, including their pride, passion, inclusivity and originality.

Paintings, drawings, and illustrations by 140 artists were submitted for this year’s award, with the Top 10 revealed last month.

Beliza Buzollo and Jamie King were announced as this year’s winner, taking home a cash prize of £1500. Their submission will also be displayed at Queer Britain – the UK’s first and only museum dedicated to LGBTQ+ history – and will be included on merchandise sold in the museum shop.

Last year’s award winner, Sadie Lee, revealed their win to an ecstatic reaction from the artists in attendance.

“Life drawing is at the core of art history,” Beliza Buzollo said following their win. “It is responsible for filling galleries around the world and being the foundation of masterpieces.

“When crossed with the beauty of trans bodies – historically denied a place in art – it questions expectations and reclaims infinite possibilities.

“Featuring an all trans crew front and behind the lens, a special world is created and suspended in time, in which it feels magical to be naked, non-sexualised and fully seen for who we know ourselves to be.”

Photography by Rahil Ahmad / From L-R: Stephen Appleby-Barr, Sadie Lee, Beliza Buzollo (AKA Queergarden), Paul Harfleet, Oliver Freeston

Oliver Freeston came in second place – announced by last year’s runner-up entry, Paul Harfleet – taking home a cash prize of £1000 and his work being displayed in the museum.

“Inspired by Virgin X, a London-based queer performer, my goal was to combine  classic renaissance style and tacky camp,” Oliver said. “After painting the portrait in oils, I embellished it with over 5,000 faux pearls and crystals, finishing with an ornate frame.

“I was blown away by the concept of this queer performer based on a religious icon, taking the narrative of an institution known for excluding the lgbtqia community and twisting it to promote that same community through art.”

Third place went to Stephen Appleby-Barr, whose work will also be displayed in Queer Britain and walked away with a £500 cash prize.

“This is a painting of Max (they/them) pouring wine into a cracked teacup,” Stephen said. “I paint my friends in oil on linen because I love looking at them. I’m Queer. My friends are Queer. I paint us so that people know we were here.”

Speaking on the award, Joseph Galliano, Director and Co-Founder of Queer Britain said: “Queer artists deserve championing and the depth of talent on display in these awards was astounding. We are proud to work with Madame F to be able to highlight the stunning talents across the breadth of our communities.”

You can view the winners of the 2023 Madame F Queer Britain Art Award at their official site here.

Sadie and Paul were part of a judging panel comprised of Artist and Queer Britain Trustee, Robert Taylor; QB head of Design and Special Projects, Mark King; Cartoonist and Artist Kate Charlesworth; The UK’s first Muslim Drag Artist, Asifa Lahore; QB exhibited photographer Alia Romagnoli; former Chief Creative Officer from M&C Saatchi, Ben Golik; GAY TIMES Editorial Director, Lewis Corner; and sponsor Madame F’s Chief Bottle filler, Iain Muggoch.

Queer Britain has been open to the public for a year, welcoming more than 50,000 visitors through its doors and giving a vital space to LGBTQ+ history and experiences.

Based at 2 Granary Square in London’s King’s Cross, Queer Britain offers free entry for the public to attend.