This Thursday, for one night only, Eagle London goes inter-galactic for Andrew Ahern’s queer Stormtrooper exhibition!
Illustrator Andrew Ahern will be displaying the first ever exhibition of his work; a camp collection of dolled-up illustrations of the Stormtroopers from Star Wars! He softens up their aggressive appearance by drawing them as a number of queer figures or in iconic pop culture moments.
We spoke with him ahead of the show to see what inspired the work.
Hey Andrew! Tell us about your new exhibition.
In recognition of 50 years since the decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales, my exhibition celebrates gay icons, heroes and activists that have been fearless in their quest to make LGBTQ people more visible and accepted.
What drew you to Star Wars and Storm Troopers in particular?Ultimately I wanted to create a good thing out of a bad experience. I have been bullied in various ways through my life for being gay. It’s always been by groups of lads, so I wanted to use the Stormtrooper to represent them. Stormtroopers are affectionately seen by people as almost like bumbling clowns and that seemed to fit perfectly with the message, but also the comedy and fun of the illustrations. By transforming them into new characters, it felt like I was setting them free from their usual homogenised army status.
What else will be happening on the night?
We will be selling the artwork plus reprints and there’ll also be a limited edition t-shirts of the Tom of Finland troopers.
Do you think Star Wars has ever been queer?
I don’t know if Star Wars has specifically been queer, but I do think it has been accessible to a wide range of people. I think anyone with a low tinkering gaydar would have suspicions about Luke Skywalker! Princess Leia was one of the first and mostly recognised empowered female roles in Hollywood played immaculately by Carrie Fisher. Strong women have always had an affiliation with gay people. They felt like they had a voice we couldn’t have and they could possibly help bring change and awareness to our cause. And how can we forget C3PO; a beautifully charming and fussy character. When growing up his effeminate nuances didn’t put me off but merely made him adorable and ultimately loveable.
From a Galaxy Far, Far Away is on Thursday 21st September at Eagle London, 349 Kennington Lane, Vauxhall, SE11 5QY, 6pm-2am, free entry