autograph, london

How do you become a Patron Saint of Darkrooms?

Thursday 6 July || 6 - 8pm

Past event

A celebration (with sparkle and joy) of Ajamu's exhibition, personal journeys and liberating representations of the black queer body



Rivington Place
London EC2A 3BA, UK

past event

This event is now closed. View our current events here


The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence believe all people have a right to express their unique joy and beauty. Since 1979, this irreverent and flamboyant order of queer drag nuns have devoted themselves to community service, ministry and outreach to LGBT*IQA people, promoting human rights, HIV/AIDS activism and sex positivity.

Sr Polly Amarosa of the Blessed Merci Beau Cul and Bona Aris, assisted by Mother Mandragora (Salacious in Purple), will manifest at Autograph to perform a ceremony of sparkle and fun as part of Ajamu’s exhibition The Patron Saint of Darkrooms. A year on from his sainting at the site of the Gemini Club in Huddersfield, they will reaffirm him as The Patron Saint of Darkrooms in recognition of his long career at the forefront of genderqueer photography - liberating representations of the black queer body. The ceremony invites participation and will be scripted in the Sisters’ traditional camp and passionate fashion; infused with smatterings of Polari, blessings and affirmations.

After the performance, Ajamu will be in conversation with artists Myah Jeffers, Alexander Ikhide and Abel Holsborough. Their conversation will reflect on Ajamu’s life, work and the cultural artifacts that have sustained him, including Soft Cell’s Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret (1981), an album that provided a locus of hope for so many young, queer people. We’ll discuss how Ajamu’s journey resonates with generations of creatives, and what relics and memorabilia they take with them.

This event will take place in Autograph's Studio, and only a very limited number of tickets are available to ensure the best possible experience for everyone. Want to see Ajamu's exhibition? It's free, and the gallery will be open both before and after the event. 

The ticket price for this event is £5. No one will be turned away for lack of funds. If this ticket price is unaffordable for you please get in touch with Roshi at about free ticketing options.

part of the exhibition

Ajamu: The Patron Saint of Darkrooms

Free exhibition, 28 Apr – 2 Sep 2023
Unapologetically celebrating black queer bodies and pleasure as activism

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artist newspaper

Ajamu: The Patron Saint of Darkrooms

Published to accompany the exhibition
Exclusively available from Autograph


about the artist


Ajamu (1963, Huddersfield, UK) is a photographic artist, scholar, archive curator and radical sex activist best known for his imagery that challenges dominant ideas around black masculinity, gender, sexuality, and representation of black LGBTQ+ people in the United Kingdom. In 2022 Ajamu was canonised by The Trans Pennine Traveling Sisters (The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence) as The Patron Saint of Darkrooms in his hometown of Huddersfield.

He is the co-founder of rukus! Federation and the rukus! Black Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer + Archive and one of a few leading specialists on Black British LGBTQ+ history, heritage, and cultural memory in the UK. In 1997, Ajamu was the Autograph x Lightwork artist-in-residence in Syracuse, USA developing a series of self-portraits during his residency. He studied at the Jan van Eyck Akademie, Maastricht, The Netherlands, and is currently an PhD candidate at Royal College of Art, London. In 2022 he received an honorary fellowship from the Royal photographic society.

Ajamu’s works have been shown in exhibitions in museums, galleries, and alternatives spaces across globally since the 1990s, his recent solo exhibitions include Archival Senoria at Cubitt Gallery, 2021. As well as included in several thematic group Very Private? at Charleston House, 2022; Fashioning Masculinities, Victoria and Albert Museum, 2022; Kiss My Genders, Hayward Gallery, 2019; Get Up, Stand Up Now, Somerset House, 2019; On our Backs: The Revolution Art of Queer Sex Work, Leslie Lohman Museum, 2019. His works are currently on show as part of the group exhibition A Hard Man is Good to Find! at The Photographers’ Gallery, London. Ajamu’s works are held in collections including Tate, London; Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow; Autograph, London; Neuberger Museum of Art, New York amongst others. His second monograph AJAMU: ARCHIVE was published in 2021.

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Sister Polly Amarosa

Sister Polly Amarosa of the Blessed Merci Beau Cul and Bona Aris is a fully-professed Sister of Perpetual Indulgence. She is ‘Caravan Cabbie’ of the Trans Pennine Travelling Sisters bringing queer joy and ministry to LGBT*IQA communities in towns and cities along the Trans Pennine Way.

about the speakers

Abel Holsborough

Abel Holsborough is an artist/character/miller/person. They use photography, writing and performance to explore the un-monumental and question what constitutes 'useful' art. Their interest in obscure histories and ‘not-quite’ archives also feeds into their work at Brixton Windmill where they are the lead miller of the last working windmill in London.

Their collaborative works with organisations and such as Grizedale Arts (2020 - ongoing) and Create London (A House for Artists) often link to ideas of home, place-making and community.Awards and commissions include: Waltham Forest Windrush Legacy commission (2023), LUX Everything Happens Twice (2022), Osaka Creative Writing Prize (2021), Getty Images Inclusion Scholarship (2020), Embedded Bread Waltham Forest Borough of Culture (2019), Barbican Instagrammer in Residence (2018).

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Alexander Ikhide

Alexander Ikhide is a multidisciplinary visual artist and photographer, working in collage, photography, drawing and painting. His work explores ideas about the body as well taking on an experimental and expansive approach to photography and painting, through combining both mediums to produce mixed media works on paper.

Myah Jeffers

Myah Jeffers is a Barbadian-British, award-winning artist working across photography, text, performance, and film. The notion of Black interiority is a recurring theme in her work.

Using portraiture and observational photographic methods, the work often calls for a communal witnessing and celebrating of the Black, diasporic quotidian, illuminating the magic of ritual, grief, deep reflection, quiet and joy through a queered lens.

Myah's photographic work has won the Portrait of Britain Prize in both 2019 and 2021.

She most recently became a recipient of the inaugural Leica & We-Present’s Photography Grant for Black photographers.

Her portraits have been featured in a host of publications, including VOGUE, The Guardian, The Sunday Times Magazine, The Independent, Aesthetica Magazine, It’s Nice That and British Journal of Photography.

She has also worked in collaboration with the likes of Tate, Somerset House, ICA, South London Gallery and Whitechapel Gallery.

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content note

Ajamu's exhibition addresses important issues around sensual identities and lived experience. We'd like you to know before your visit that some images on display include nudity and sexual imagery.

The exhibition contains latex and may cause allergic reactions. This event may also contain Latex.



Planning a visit? Have a look at our Visit Us page to find out more about getting to the gallery, accessibility and more.


Accessible VEnue

Autograph welcomes people with all types of disabilities.


limited tickets

This is an small event with a limited amount of tickets. We highly recommend booking a ticket in advance.


Step free

Our building and entrance is step free. A wheelchair accessible lift goes to all floors.



This event is seated. If you would like a chair with arms, please let us know on the booking form.


Everyone is welcome at Autograph, however you need to be aged 18+ to join us at this event.

photography at this event

Please do not take photography at this event. A photographer will be documenting the event for Autograph and The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Images from this event may be used by Autograph and The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and external press for marketing and promotional use, including: printed and online publicity, social media, press releases, or other use.

If you do not wish to be photographed, please let us know at the event and we will ensure that you are not included in any photographs.

Ticketing policy

Autograph's events are popular, and often sell out. We recommend booking a ticket in advance. If you need to cancel your ticket for any reason, you can receive a refund up to 24 hours before the start of the event. You do not need to bring your paper ticket to the event.

The ticket price for this event is £5. No one will be turned away for lack of funds. If this ticket price is unaffordable for you please get in touch with Roshi at about free ticketing options.

Banner image: Ajamu, Self - Portrait on Chaise Lounge, Syracuse, 1998 [detail]. Courtesy the artist and Autograph, London.

Images on page: 1) Ajamu: The Patron Saint of Darkrooms exhibition at Autograph. 28 April - 2 September 2023. Curated by Mark Sealy in association with Bindi Vora. Photograph by Kate Elliott. 2) Ajamu at Autograph, 2023. 3) Courtesy Sister Polly. 4) Courtesy Abel Holsborough. 5Courtesy Alexander Ikhide. 6) Courtesy Myah Jeffers. 7) Autograph, photograph by Zoë Maxwell.