Celebrating pride through art

Nicholas Tsekouras with his art installation Eyes. 286307_01 Photos: STEWART CHAMBERS

By Chloe Henry

Berwick has become the temporary home of a pride collection created by queer artist Nicholas Tsekouras.

Currently featured at the Old Cheese Factory, Tsekouras’ collection deals with themes of identity, vulnerability and sexuality.

Known for his unique art style, Tsekouras also frequently hosts collage workshops around Victoria, and promotes a safe space for participants to express themselves.

“Something I really like to promote in the workshops is that it takes courage to create, which is actually a quote from Henri Matisse, a famous collage artist,” he said.

“I just love to encourage people to create freely, without any sort of expectations.”

Born in Melbourne, Tsekouras has had his artwork shown at the ACU Melbourne Gallery and Brunswick Street Gallery.

He is currently undertaking an artist residency in the Garden Studio at the Old Cheese Factory.

His pride collection includes a piece titled Eyes, in which Tsekouras drew and coloured the eyes of people in the LGBTQI+ community.

The artistic eyes were then suspended from the ceiling.

The Old Cheese Factory also reached out to Tsekouras and offered him an exhibition space and the chance to put together a pride collection.

“A lot of my works obviously feature on the general idea of pride and LGBTQI+ issues and my identity, gender and sexuality,” he said.

“But they’re not necessarily all part of the same collection, so when they approached me with the idea of putting together an exhibition for pride, I put together a lot of pieces and made a larger exhibition.”

While many of Tsekouras’ previous pieces focused more on his own identity and journey, he has created new pieces with the queer community in mind, including a piece titled Black Rainbow.

“I wanted to create a piece when thinking about this exhibition that sort of demonstrated the beauty of the queer community, but also the toxicity of it, because it’s very two-sided,” he said.

“It’s also the title of one of my favourite songs, so I thought it was fitting.”

His work previously featured in Narre Warren and Dandenong before coming to Berwick.

“I had some workshops with the Connection Arts Space in Dandenong first, then Bunjil Place, and then later some in the City of Casey,” he said.

Nicholas graduated university in 2021 with two bachelor’s degrees, one in Visual Arts and the other in Law, and always planned on pursuing art as a career.

“I always knew I was going to be doing it forever,” he said.

Producing art and making collages has also helped him to consolidate his own identity over the years.

“I think collage has allowed me to sort of communicate those ideas quite freely because of the immediacy of cutting, finding and pasting something,” he said.

“It’s so quick to sort of form a theme or an idea as opposed to drawing it out or sketching it out.”

Tsekouras’ exhibition has received much praise from the local community, with many viewers mesmerised by the intricate pieces.

“Generally they’re quite in awe and appreciative of the beauty of them, because I think a lot of my works do carry a certain aesthetic to them,” he said.

Tsekouras is already lined up to do another solo exhibition and is working on a few secret projects, something he finds incredibly exciting.

“I’ve been working towards that and a few other projects that are actually now in the mix, which aren’t necessarily exhibition focused,” he said.

Tsekouras’ pride collection is available to view at the Old Cheese Factory until 1 July.