Who isn’t tired of tokenism and other ‘isms between the white walls of commercial and institutional spaces? Why do so many residencies not consider the needs of artists with intersectional identities, of disabled artists? How do ‘marginalised’ artists make a living whilst still prioritising our empowerment and connection with others who share our experiences? 

TheySwarm is an artist residency for ‘diverse and dispersed’ artists. TextaQueen, as peer-mentor, invites artists for collaborative residencies in their Collingwood (Narrm/Melbourne) shopfront studio. TheySwarm is by and for queer and trans, Black, Indigenous, and people of colour with priority to disabled artists. 

TheySwarm aims to balance access to Art World networks while keeping the ‘by us – for us’ attitude of the queer / punk / crip /  DIY / BIPOC communities of the artists involved – to create an emotionally, physically, and financially sustainable space for connection and creativity. 

Though there are currently no open calls or deadlines for artists interested in residencies – TheySwarm is always open for expressions of interest to collaborate with and host diverse/dispersed/disabled artists. Residencies are collaboratively organised (including seeking funding) with participating artists – according to their needs and project ideas.  

If you’re interested in being involved in TheySwarm (whatever your identities) or want to donate to the renovation or residency program, please get in touch via the TextaQueen Contact page. 

TheySwarm includes small but growing library of artist books, catalogues, children’s books, poetry, zines, self-published books and other fiction and non-ficiton titles by Black, Indigenous and people of colour creators, with a focus on rad queer, trans and disabled authors. If you have suggestions of titles or donations of books or zines, please get in touch. TextaQueen carefully curates the library, collecting and purchasing relevant publications. 

NOTE : Despite TheySwarm aiming to prioritise disabled artists, the space is not currently wheelchair accessible. TextaQueen has been raising funds and renovating towards wheelchair accessibility of the space since 2019, including via grants from City of Yarra, MatchLAB, and an ACF fundraiser. This has not raised enough to complete the scale of the renovations needed to make the space accessible for powerchair users. Currently, the space has a small step from the street into the space and a non-automatic heavy glass door. It is then step-free until the bathroom, which is not suitable for a powerchair. 

All outcomes of TheySwarm will be digital and held at other, accessible locations until the space is accessible for wheelchair users. Further renovations with funds already raised are planned by mid-2024. TheySwarm will reapply for a previous unsuccessful infrastructure grant that will have more likelihood of success once the residency program is underway. 

Sales of Learn Your ACABs help fund TheySwarm.

[ID: Photo of TextaQueen framed artworks resting on studio floor with markers strewn on floor.]