Ian Phillips is having Persians imported for the opening of Colour Coded, a co-exhibition at the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives. “It’s a doughnut that you can only get in Thunder Bay,” he clarifies. “Everyone who lives there is kind of obsessed with them. People who leave, whenever they go back they always have them, and they bring them back from Thunder Bay and freeze them.”
Phillips’s work for the exhibit concerns his experience growing up in the Lakehead. Each image takes an aspect of his home, a location for instance, and melds it with queer history and anecdote. In doing so, he literally paints the town pink, frosting tourist locales and childhood haunts in a kitschy aesthetic.
“When I started, I thought this would just be fun to do, but I started noticing in some of the pieces I was feeling a lot of anger that I’d never really dealt with before,” he explains. One piece depicts the Welcome, a small cruise boat on which residents and locals could take tours of Thunder Bay’s harbour. Phillips describes how in the 1980s a local television program, Thunder Gay Magazine, booked the boat for its first anniversary celebration. In a phone call to confirm the booking, the owner asked about the organization. Finding out it was a gay television program, the booking was immediately cancelled, and the person responsible was Phillips’s high school typing teacher.
Paired with Phillips in Colour Coded is genderqueer multimedia artist Jamie Q, who will explore the possibility of making an object queer, through a series of colourful, playful works.