polari mission
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Accessing LGBT archives – workshop event – 22nd February 12.00 – 1.30
Feb 17, 2014

This Saturday (22nd) we are running a FREE event at The fantabulosa John Rylands Library in Manchester. Continuing our investigation into LGBT archives, please come and join us 12.00 – 1.30:

Collection Encounter: Gay Self-Expression in the Archives: Gay Politics & Gay Poetry in the later Twentieth Century

Archivist, Matthew Schofield will introduce some LGB politics and LGB poetry represented within the Library’s collections, with frank accounts and representations of LGB lives 1960s-1990s

Places are free but must be reserved by emailing: jrl.events@machester.ac.uk or by phone on: 0161 306 0555

Polari Mission news updates!
Nov 26, 2013

Polari Mission has been in the news lately!

Firstly and article in New Europe newspaper & website, written by journalist Andy Carling on our work on the Polari iPhone app, which can be found here:


And a feature written by student journalist Ella Dix – Nagra for the Manchester University student newspaper, The Mancunion:


Forthcoming Polari Antics!
Nov 20, 2013

Forthcoming Polari Mission events to accompany the exhibition at The John Rylands Library Manchester. All events are FREE but must be booked as places are limited: To book a place please call:
0161 306 0555 or email: jrlevents@manchester.ac.uk

Thursday 28 November, 12.00-1.00: Exhibition tour with artists Jez Dolan & Joseph Richardson

Sunday 8 December, 12.00-2.00: Camp as Christmas! Workshop – a special festive event to create fantabulosa cards and baubles to deck the halls and make the season gay!

Thursday 9 January, 5.00-7.00: Exhibition tour and personal archive workshop – Tour of the exhibition with artists Jez Dolan & Joseph Richardson, followed by a session working with personal archive materials. How does our ‘stuff’ tell our story…..

Meanwhile, the exhibition continues until February 2nd 2014. If you would like us to arrange a special event, session or workshop either at the John Rylands, or at another space of your choice, please get in touch.

The Polari Mission Symposium – The John Rylands Library – Friday 18th October 2013
Sep 10, 2013

Artists Jez Dolan and Joseph Richardson present the next stage in their exploration of ‘the lost language of gay men’ through their project Polari Mission – The Polari Mission Symposium.

The symposium will present a range of guest speakers from the arts and academia who will each lecture on a different aspect of Polari and its crucial yet still relatively unexplored impact on LGBT heritage. The day will also host some surprising elements of performance, opportunities to view and discuss the exhibition, and will conclude with a round table debate / Q&A session between delegates and speakers.

We anticipate that this is the first event of its kind in terms of the exploration of Polari. The full programme of speakers and guests will be announced here shortly

Places are FREE but must be booked in advance as numbers are strictly limited. Please make bookings through The John Rylands Library by email: jrl.events@manchester.ac.uk or on: 0161 306 0555

Tea and coffee etc. will be provided during the day

Polari Mission at The John Rylands Library
Aug 28, 2013

The Polari Mission exhibition at the John Rylands Library is finally open! Combining archival material (some dating from over 300 years ago!) with newly created artwork, site responsive film works, and an expanding personal archive section, the exhibition shows the artists exploration of Polari over the last two years. The artists are conducting tours of the exhibition on Saturday 31st August and Saturday 28th of September 1.00 – 2.00, explaining the process behind the exhibition. The exhibition runs until February 2014. Fantabulosa!

Personal Archiving
Jul 29, 2013

A lovely comment following a personal archiving session on Friday:

Last night I had the privilege of taking part in a LGBT archivist project as a small group met to display and discuss artefacts significant in their LGBT journey; from Poptastic shag tags to Act Up; a script from Queer as Folk to 80s’ postcards of Morrissey; a homoelectric flyer from 99 scribbled with a first meet phone number to Hollinghurst’s The Swimming Pool Library and a first night programme from 1895 of Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest; a vivid pre internet world. Our history is precious, was buoyant despite prejudice and discrimination, and essential to record lest it disappears in an assimilationist forever. Last night felt special and am so looking forward to the coming Polari Exhibition at The John Rylancds’ Library, Manchester.

The Polari Wunderkammer -Personal Archiving workshops
Apr 17, 2013

Have you ever wondered why you keep some of the ‘stuff’ that you have? Programmes for half – remembered plays, bills for long – forgotten meals, receipts for long rail journeys, or tickets for forgotten films….? A photograph of….. who WAS that? What makes us decide to keep some things, and throw others away. Of the ‘stuff’ that we keep, on purpose or by accident, how does it tell our story?

As part of the ongoing Polari Mission, artists Jez Dolan and Joseph Richardson are looking to recruit LGBT people (of all ages) to bring some of their own personal archive to a session at Manchester’s beautiful and historic John Rylands Library to participate in a one – day workshop led by the artists

11th and 18th of May 2013

10.30 – 4.00 pm

Together we will look at our own, and each other’s archives to look at the hidden stories which form an important part of our shared LGBT heritage.

 Far removed from ancient priceless documents, which sit stored, rarely to be seen, we encourage you to come and share your own stories, and your own personal journey through your accumulated ‘stuff’ that until now you didn’t think mattered. This is a unique opportunity to take part in curating a significant exhibition in one of Manchester’s key cultural landmarks.

Elements of personal archives created may be exhibited as part of the forthcoming exhibition The Polari Mission August 2013 – February 2014 at the John Rylands (University of Manchester) Library. Participants need not be credited or named if they would rather remain anonymous. All personal material will be treated in the strictest confidence, and in museum archive conditions.

Places are free, but are strictly limited, and must be booked by calling The John Rylands Library on: 0161 306 0555 or by email to: jrul.events@manchester.ac.uk



Polari Mission needs you! – Get Involved in Documenting LGBT Histories!!
Feb 25, 2013

Interested in taking part as an interviewer?

Polari Mission is interested in hearing from potential volunteers who are aged 18+.  The minimum commitment is 4 days (interview/editing) through to as much time as you want to give.

You will receive two days training at North West Sound Archive – one day in recording techniques and one in editing.  Previous experience is welcome, but not necessary.

If you’ve got stories to tell – we’re interested in hearing from you
As well as recruiting and training interviewers for this oral history project, Polari Mission is also interested in hearing from people who used Polari.

Even if you didn’t use Polari, Polari Mission is interested interviewing you to collect your stories and experiences as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender person in past decades. The more we can expand the North West Sound Archives with stories relevant to Gay communities the better.

If you are interested in either volunteering at an interviewer or would like to be interviewed as part of the Polari Mission then don’t hesitate, get in touch here: screeve@polarimission.com 07515 882 367



About The Mission

Artists Jez Dolan and Joseph Richardson are launching a mission to save Polari, one of the world’s most endangered languages, a bold yet secretive part of Gay history. Join the artists for a bona bijou troll through the fantabulosa history of Polari, learn the basics, and get involved with recording and saving a dying language!

The project uses Polari as a starting point to examine how contemporary LGBT groups and individuals view, understand, appreciate, utilise, or see reflected in their own ‘communities of language’ the influence of Polari, and its  impact on how we communicate today. The project will produce a series of exhibitions, performances, visual artwork and audience participation.

Polari Mission is a multi-disciplinary collaboration between the artists and specialists in the fields of linguistics and computer science including Professor Paul Baker (Lancaster University) & Tim Greening-Jackson.

'Polari was a secret form of language used mainly by gay men, lesbians and people who worked in the theatre. It was most often used in London and other UK cities with a gay sub-culture, and was popular between the 1930s and 1960s. It was introduced to a wider audience through a 1960s comedy radio program called Round The Horne. Apart from a few familiar words, it is hardly known today.' 

Professor Paul Baker (Lancaster University)

Polari on your mobile

Category: Education
Released: 06 August 2012
Version: 1.6
Size: 0.7 MB
Language: English
Requirements: Compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation) and iPad.Requires iOS 5.1 or later.


Scan this QR code for a direct iPhone download