12.30pm – 1.30pm Wednesday 3 August 2022


Quoted source: Nikki Sullivan, Craig Middleton, Liz Grandmaison, and Millicent Wheeler, 2022, “Bi-focals, beards and butches: queering history in museums”, Australian Historical Studies, Routledge. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/epub/10.1080/14490854.2022.2054442

Join artist and writer Theo Costantino in conversation with John Curtin Gallery Curator and Collection Manager Lia McKnight as they discuss Soft/Hard: radical love by R. Goo curated by the late trans artist Bec O’Neil. As Theo describes in their essay, the exhibition is a queering of the Curtin University Art Collection which deftly interlaces the personal and the political, positioning the struggle for LGBTQIA+ liberation since the 1960s as the backdrop to the psychological work of queer self-formation and acceptance. Expanding on these themes, the talk will also speak to a number of works in the exhibition and will give an insight into the development of the project.

“Despite the hard-won strides made over the past sixty years or so, as queer, trans or gender nonconforming folks, we grow up in a culture that erases our existence. As children, we often lack the language to describe who we are and what we feel, but as we recognise our difference, we also become aware that the world regards us as unnatural, illegitimate, and that there is something shameful about our inner lives, bodies, and relationships. Many of us grow up in hiding, flitting between visibility and invisibility, like phantoms. We become skilled in detecting sprinkles of queer stardust in pop culture and beyond, touchstones that remind us that we are not alone, and which help us to imagine possible selves.”  Theo Costantino

Christian Thompson, Subconscious Whispers, 2018, c-type print on Fuji Pearl Metallic Paper comprising four panels: 120 x 120 cm (each), total framed dimensions: 250 x 250 cm. Curtin University Collection. 
Christian Thompson, Subconscious Whispers, 2018, c-type print on Fuji Pearl Metallic Paper comprising four panels: 120 x 120 cm (each), total framed dimensions: 250 x 250 cm. Curtin University Collection.


John Curtin Gallery, Building 200A, Curtin University, Kent Street, Bentley WA 6102


Admission and Accessibility.


Open until 28 August 2022

Mon-Fri 11am-5pm, Sun 12pm-4pm

Soft / Hard: radical love by R. Goo


Theo Costantino is a queer non-binary artist based on Whadjuk Noongar Boodja / Perth, and Executive Director of ART ON THE MOVE. Their practice includes drawing, sculpture, video, photography, written works and performance. They have exhibited and undertaken residency projects within Australia, Europe, the UK and USA both in a solo capacity and collaboratively. Theo holds a PhD from Curtin University and degrees in Fine Art and Literary Studies. Their work is held in collections including the Art Gallery of South Australia, Art Gallery of Western Australia, The Cruthers Collection, Murdoch University and Curtin University. Theo writes fiction in a range of forms; their short story ‘Meniscus’ was published in Global Dystopias by The Boston Review, edited by Junot Díaz in 2017. Their critical writing includes the book chapter ‘Ruination and Recollection: Plumbing the Colonial Archive’ in Visual Arts Practice and Affect: Place, Materiality, and Embodied Knowing, edited by Ann Schilo for Rowman & Littlefield in 2016.

Lia McKnight is Curator and Collection Manager at the John Curtin Gallery. She has curated several major exhibitions for the Gallery including: Post-hybrid: reimagining the Australian self (2015), ASSEMBLAGE (2016), 50fifty (2017) and 50fifty-2020 (2020). She has a BA Visual Arts and a Master of Arts, Cultural Heritage and worked as an Independent Curator before joining the JCG team. Lia is also a practicing artist and has been exhibiting in group and solo exhibitions for close to 20 years. She has been a finalist in numerous awards and in 2018 she developed the major exhibition, Sensual Nature in collaboration with Fremantle Arts Centre. Recent solo exhibitions include Homely (2020) at Cool Change Contemporary and Everyday Sacred (2018) at Turner Galleries. Lia’s work is held in private and public collections including Murdoch University, Curtin University, City of Perth and City of Joondalup.

Soft / Hard: radical love by R. Goo

3 JUNE – 28 AUGUST 2022

Drawing from the Curtin University Art Collection, Soft/Hard: radical love by R. Goo responds to the theme of ‘Queering the Gallery’ through the unique perspective of the late multidisciplinary trans artist, Bec O’Neil, who worked under the pseudonym ‘R. Goo’. Through the Curtin Bachelor of Fine Art student placement program, he worked closely with the Collection in 2021. More recently, Collection Manager Lia McKnight has worked collaboratively with artist Beth Scholey to bring the exhibition to fruition.

O’Neil’s art practice explored trauma, queerness, alternate histories and futures and these themes are similarly drawn out in his curatorial approach to this exhibition. Covering a diverse range of media and approaches, there are close to 40 works created over a period of 50 years, many of which have not previously been shown at the John Curtin Gallery. Artists include Olga Cironis, Theo Costantino, Sidney Nolan, Lisa Reihana, Joan Ross, Christian Thompson, and Aida Tomescu. Drawing them all together is O’Neil’s vision of acceptance of ourselves and others in whatever shape or form we take.



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