Discover the stories behind key images, objects and artworks by reading and listening to Disability Arts Online‘s audio-described essays

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            [post_content] => This audio description has been compiled by Colin Hambrook in February 2018. It was commissioned by Disability Arts Online on behalf of NDACA (the National Disability Arts Collection and Archive). It is approximately 10 minutes 20 seconds long. 

This is a flyer promoting a cabaret produced by the London Disability Arts Forum, designed in a Gravitas One font - a typical poster font with both bold and very narrow verticals. The text is in red lettering on an orange and white background. A loose line drawing of Allan Sutherland performing features in two sets, reversed, in red on the header and in orange on the main poster image. The drawing looks a little like a Boz illustration from a 19th century novel. An assembly of long coat and scarf – material flying as though he’s struggling to put it on. Strands of fabric are caught under his bare feet. He wears a brimmed hat and glasses. The sketch is by Katherine Araniello whose signature appears beneath. A border made of two red lines with an orange fill surrounds the edge of the flyer.

The headline reads: ‘The Workhouse: Disability Arts Cabaret Double Bill’ in block capitals across three lines in red lettering on white. An exception are the ‘O’s in Workhouse, which appear in orange. The full address and phone number of the Red Rose Club, Islington is in red lettering on a band of orange below.

Underneath ranged-left the flyer reads: Monday 26th November ’90, “new talent night: a galaxy of rising stars” in lower case, followed by the names of the cabaret acts: Sarah Scott and Ray Harrison Graham, Sharon Knight, Astrid Menezes, Maudie and Harry, Jeff McWhinney, And Mario Estrada from the Nicaraguan Disabled People’s Freedom Organisation ‘Solidez’. MC Elspeth Morrison.

Below ranged-right is the date: Monday 17th December ’90, “Workhouse golden oldies sixties Xmas Party Night, false eyelashes, bell bottoms etc. de rigeur and food laid on” with the names of the performers: Johnnie Crescendo, Isobel Ward, Allan Sutherland, Kate Portal, the Pink Fingers and introducing Phil Troll. Logos for Islington Council, Greater London Authority and London Disability Arts Forum (LDAF pronounced el-daff) appear lined up below the text. The footer in red on orange gives the details: time, ticket price, £3.00 or £1.50 access and LDAF information phone number.

LDAF launched The Workhouse disability cabaret club at the Tabernacle Arts Centre in West London in 1988. LDAF, set up in 1987, was an organisation controlled by disabled people; employing only disabled people, it became a model for the creation of disability arts organisations across the UK in 80s and 90s.

The Workhouse disability cabaret became LDAF’s flagship event. It was developed according to an idea about collective identity proposed by disabled academic Vic Finkelstein:
“if we (disabled people) are to make our unique cultural contribution to society then this must come collectively from the people, it cannot be imposed on us by leading disabled individuals from the top down, any more than it could, or can be, imposed on us by occupational therapists, art therapists or any other therapists that are forced on us in the future… Disability culture… must develop spontaneously and creatively out of the collective experience of disabled people.”
The Workhouse cabaret - named after the Victorian Workhouse - the forerunner for residential homes, institutions and hospitals where disabled people lived - provided a space where disabled audiences could come to enjoy the work of disabled performers. Like the disability movement of the time, the workhouse brought together people with a wide range of impairments, rejecting the impairment-specific model of organisation offered by the disability charities. Disabled writer Allan Sutherland who regularly performed a stand-up routine at The Workhouse explained the thinking behind the event in Choices, Rights and Cabaret, saying:
“It was immensely liberating for disabled artists to be able to perform to disabled audiences. It enabled them to develop material that was unapologetically disability-based, knowing that it would have a resonance for the audience that would be largely or entirely absent from a performance in a mainstream venue… for a disabled performer the dynamic of a performance is entirely different when working to a mainstream audience. One has to grapple with prejudice and sometimes outright hostility and create acceptance of one’s disability before an audience starts to pay attention to one’s act. This difficulty is intensified if one wants to perform material that is actually about disability, of which most of the audience will have no experience…”
Subjects for performance within the variety acts who featured within The Workhouse spoke often of disability issues and patronisation, discrimination, access, and stereotypes with frequent criticism of charities and the medical model of disability, which defines disabled people by the nature of their condition, rather than as human beings in their own right. As the Workhouse developed so did the politics. The early act of Johnny Crescendo (Alan Holdsworth) included classic blues songs chosen for their disability relevance such as Ted Hawkins’ tender “Sorry You’re Sick’ and Big Bill Broonzy’s impassioned song about civil rights, ‘I Wonder When’. Johnny Crescendo began writing material aimed directly at the disability audience. A regular performer in her own right, Sarah Scott recalls the power of another Johnny Crescendo song, ‘Choices and Rights’ at a very early LDAF cabaret: “The words were unusually clear for me to follow. His singing and his strumming meant business. Simple and straight up, the music and the Disability Arts movement was rolling… and I realised it had taken me with it!” Sarah Scott and Ray Harrison Graham were Deaf performers who pioneered Signed Song – a dramatisation of popular songs using British Sign Language – at the Workhouse cabaret. Scott recalls: “when in 1986 we performed one song by Yazoo ‘Don't walk away from love’ at a Deaf performance event – unbeknownst to us a TV producer was in the audience and booked us on the spot for a series of TV programmes on Channel 4 ‘Hand in Hand’ for deaf and hearing children.” However, following the lines of the alternative cabaret circuit, which was in its heyday in the 1980s, anything was fair game for entertainment in the Workhouse, which aimed to permit performers to gain experience. Recalling the drawing of him repeated on the Workhouse cabaret flyer Sutherland says:
“Katherine Araniello drew me performing at a cabaret in Greenwich. The MC didn't turn up and I was asked to compere with no material to hand. The reason I've got bare feet in the drawing is that one of things I did - hastily improvising on the fly - was to take my socks off whilst pulling a rabbit impression with my teeth.”
Some performers on the bill of the December 1990 Workhouse went on to further innovation. Jeff McWhinney, for example, went on to introduce the videophone to the deaf community in the early 2000s. A One World Action publication from 2001 ‘Learning from experience’ outlines the impact of Solidez in its aim to strengthen organisations of disabled women in Nicaragua. The Workhouse took place at a number of different venues, but there were always two basic ground rules: the event must be fully accessible for disabled people - and it must have a bar. The Red Rose Club became a popular host when Albany Video produced ‘The Disabling Council’ - a training video on Disability Equality or the Local Government Training Board - and produced a cabaret specifically for the video. The video consists of interviews with disabled people, all of whom worked in local government apart from academic Mike Oliver, interspersed with songs and comedy material by disabled performers. Its central concept is disability as a social construction. This audio description was compiled using the following sources: Disability on Equal Terms: Chapter 7 Choices, Rights and Cabaret: Disability Arts and Collective Identity by Allan Sutherland. The Disabling Council (1987) London Community Video Archve Ray Harrison Graham Wikipedia page Sarah Scott in conversation It was commissioned as part of a series of 1000-word essays to mark the launch of NDACA, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Arts Council England. [post_title] => The Workhouse Disability Arts Cabaret flyer [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => the-workhouse-disability-arts-cabaret-flyer [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-06-20 13:05:55 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-06-20 13:05:55 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 48 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => page [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 316 [post_author] => 5 [post_date] => 2018-05-01 12:03:01 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-05-01 12:03:01 [post_content] => This audio description has been compiled by Joe Turnbull in February 2017. It was commissioned by Disability Arts Online on behalf of NDACA (the National Disability Arts Collection and Archive). It is approximately 7 and a half minutes long. ‘The Disabled Century’ is a promotional ‘transmission card’, of roughly postcard size. A large mocked-up sign dominates the image, which reads ‘The Disabled Century’ in block capitals, each word on its own line. The word ‘THE’ and ‘CENTURY’ appear in a white serif font, similar to Times New Roman. The space between these two words appears to have been ripped, and peeled off to the right-hand side, revealing the word ‘DISABLED’ in a white serif font set against a stark red background underneath the torn paper. It has the effect of making the word disabled stand out prominently. In the bottom right of the transmission card are the original air dates and times: 27 May, 3 June, 10 June, 9.50pm – each piece of information printed on a new line, in simple white font. On the left-hand side is the classic BBC Two logo; with the letters BBC in black against small white boxes, the word Two in simple white text. The transmission card is printed with a glossy black finish. The transmission card was produced by the BBC’s Disability Programme Unit to promote the series The Disabled Century in 1999 and would have been given out to press and other interested parties ahead of its broadcast. Transmission details and publicity blurb are on the reverse of the card, though this is not visible. The Disabled Century was a series of three films directed, produced and written by David Hevey, which explored numerous events of the Twentieth Century from the perspective of British disabled people. It originally aired in May and June 1999 and has been re-broadcast by the BBC numerous times, the most recent being in May 2012 on BBC Four. Each episode was 40 minutes in length and used a combination of archival footage and original interview material with disabled people, both prominent and obscure. A recurring device used in the series was to project the archive footage onto the bodies of the present-day interviewees. David Hevey explained the thinking behind it to the Guardian, saying: “That way their past is a physical sign, almost a stigma on their body. We explained why we were doing it, and they were happy with it. It showed that their history is still active in them, a living issue.” Each episode explored a different period of the Twentieth Century, delving in to the changing issues disabled people faced. Prominent British actor, Paul Scofield narrated all three episodes. Episode one looked at the experiences of those who became disabled while fighting for their country in the two world wars.  It explored the harsh, often brutal realities that confronted the vast majority of disabled people in the early years of the century. It covers World War I heroes reduced to begging in the streets; Horace Blackburn’s struggle to get work; Bill Surrey, in institutions for 77 years; Gladys Brooks, strapped to a steel frame for two and a half years; Snowy Harding, whose family could not afford a wheelchair; fighter ace Douglas Bader, who lost both legs; and the Guinea Pig Club. Episode two explored whether the creation of the welfare state made life better for Britain's disabled community, and the rights that disabled groups, including blind people and those affected by thalidomide, began to demand. The episode features an interview with a young Mat Fraser, who would go on to be a prominent disabled actor, recounting the experience of having compensation awarded for his thalidomide-induced Phocomelia. The third and final episode looks at the problems disabled people faced as they moved out of institutions and into the community. The 1980s and 90s proved to be a turning point as more people were prepared to fight for wider recognition and rights. The episode charts the rise of the disability civil rights movement with a particular focus on the activism of the ‘Direct Action Network’ (DAN) and the protests they undertook in the 1990s. It also explores the concept of ‘disability pride’. David Hevey says of his landmark series, “I took risks, I wanted to push the form and explore a dynamic way of telling a vital story – and pulled it off, thankfully.  I explored recent history of Britain but from the point of view of those who hadn’t shared in its successes nor its setbacks.  We asked one key question of the all the contributors – what barriers did you face?  And that, basically, got us the narrative of the three-part series. And I got top talent on board, too, in the crew, in the narrator, in the set designers, the composer and so on. The series achieved high production values showing an important story: we wanted to show disabled people had agency, were aware, knew their stories and their history and had powerful stories to tell and show.  I had no idea, however, that The Disabled Century would become such a classic and live on for so long!” The series received praise from mainstream newspaper critics and social commentators alike. Writing in The Times Paul Hoggart described it as “Visually striking”. The Independent’s Robert Hanks remarked: “Beauty and eloquence perpetually forced the viewer to look and hear in fresh ways”. Polly Toynbee of the Guardian said it was “social history at its finest”. David Hevey is a cultural producer, filmmaker, photographer and current CEO of Shape Arts. Before taking up this post he was Project Director at NDACA. Hevey’s film credits include three films for the landmark BBC documentary series Modern Times, and he has appeared as a presenter and critic, respectively, on From The Edge and The Late Review, both on BBC 2. Hevey also wrote the book The Creatures Time Forgot: Photography and Disability Imagery, described as ‘a political autobiography’ which was published by Routledge in 1992. His photography was also featured in Photography: A Cultural History published by Laurence King Publishing in 2006. Hevey is considered a pioneer in shifting visual representations of disabled people through both his film and photography work, and a strong advocate for disabled people’s rights. This audio description was compiled using the following sources: David Hevey’s website The original episodes of The Disabled Century The BBC website Peter Lennon’s article in the Guardian about the series Disability Arts Online’s archived website The UK Disability History Month website Conversations with David Hevey Email correspondence with Alex Cowan, NDACA Archivist It was commissioned as part of a series of 1000-word essays to mark the launch of NDACA, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Arts Council England. [post_title] => The Disabled Century Transmission Card [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => the-disabled-century-transmission-card [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-06-20 13:42:04 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-06-20 13:42:04 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 48 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => page [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 313 [post_author] => 5 [post_date] => 2018-05-01 12:00:12 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-05-01 12:00:12 [post_content] => This audio description has been compiled by Trish Wheatley in February 2018. It was commissioned by Disability Arts Online on behalf of NDACA (the National Disability Arts Collection and Archive). It is approximately 5 minutes 50 seconds long. The Adventures of Super-crip Underground is one of a series of A1 posters by Andrew Tunney (aka 2hands), devised in collaboration with disabled comedian Lawrence Clark. Issue 105 December shows Super-crip in a classic red skin tight ‘pants on the outside’ superherooutfit, complete with red helmet and large black visor. With his hands out in front of him he strides along an underground railway line, which stretches back into the darkness behind him. Red circles radiate out from his head. On the left hand side behind Super-crip is a woman with a small girl and boy in school uniform. The boy has a speech bubble, which says “I can’t see a thing”. On the right, a man wearing a business suit, glasses and bowler hat carries a briefcase and brolly. He walks alongside them with a speech bubble that reads: “It’s like the blind leading the blind!” The issue summary provided in full caps handwritten text typical of comic books reads “BLIND: Super crip guides train crash passengers to safety… with his super enhanced hearing!” The comic title ‘The Adventures of Super Crip’ is written in large yellow font with a blue drop shadow, with the words ‘the’ and ‘of’ in small handwritten style. A blue bar runs across the top of the poster with the text: ‘Super-Crip New Format! Same Action!’ A small white box in the upper left of the poster displays black text reading ‘Dada Comics group 25cents’ Above this box there is a small avatar of Super-crip standing in profile set against a blue oval. The posters were commissioned by DaDaFest for the Niet Normaal exhibition at the Bluecoat, Liverpool in 2012. Tunney brought Clark’s disabled super-hero character to life in a collection of posters designed in the style of comic book covers. SUPER-CRIP’s super power is that he can switch impairments to overcome adversity and danger to himself and others.  By entertaining one impairment he gains super-increases in all other senses by way of compensation. By turning himself blind he gains the increased ability of SUPER HEARING to navigate in the dark, thus confronting more common stereotypes about blind people in popular media and fiction.” Lawrence Clark is an internationally-acclaimed comedian, writer and actor who has cerebral palsy. He has a long history with DaDaFest, launching his career at their inaugural 2001 event. His shows are observational, pointing out the absurdity of life and human behaviours, often featuring situations he encounters as a disabled person who uses a wheelchair. He makes use of powerpoint and projected video in his shows to great comic effect. Andrew Tunney is an artist and writer from Manchester, UK. He picked up the alias 2hands because he can draw with both hands at the same time, though he claims this is not because he is ambidextrous, but because he works hard. He describes his work as often being “youth focussed, street driven, with an eye for fashion and is inspired by film, comics and animation.” Tunney explains on his tumblr site that “The term ‘super-crip’, in basic terms, is used to refer to a common stereotype found in the media’s portrayal of disabled people; smiling, happy, can-do types who are often outrageously praised for always striving to “overcome” their situations. Laurence examines the stereotype by way of lampooning the traditional image of famous comic book super-heroes… many of whom have an impairment themselves (Professor Xavier, Daredevil, Thor/Donald Blake). Tunney’s artwork blatantly references many 60s Marvel characters in the work itself. For Disability Arts Online, Colin Hambrook explains that
“the point is that impairment is ordinary, not special. Dealing with the difficulties that having an impairment brings is enough without having to negotiate a world which shuts you out by judging against definitions of what is ‘normal’. Super-Crip lampoons the image of the disabled hero confronting the ridiculousness of being so special with his power to switch impairment at will, playing on the stereotype that the loss of one sense, means the heightening of other senses.”
  This audio description was compiled using the following sources: Andrew Tunney’s website Dadafest website Disability Arts Online DaDaFest leaflet It was commissioned as part of a series of 1000-word essays to mark the launch of NDACA, funded by Heritage Lottery Fund, Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Arts Council England. [post_title] => The Adventures of Super-crip by Andrew Tunney and Lawrence Clark [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => the-adventures-of-super-crip-by-andrew-tunney-and-lawrence-clark [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-10-14 09:04:46 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-10-14 09:04:46 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 48 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => page [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 311 [post_author] => 5 [post_date] => 2018-05-01 11:56:01 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-05-01 11:56:01 [post_content] => This audio description has been compiled by Colin Hambrook in February 2018. It was commissioned by Disability Arts Online on behalf of NDACA (the National Disability Arts Collection and Archive). It is read by the author. It is approximately 9 minutes long.  This is a poster for the Graeae Theatre Company production Sideshow. The stark black and white flyer has the company name in white block capitals at the top of the page with a high contrast image of the face of actor, playwright and film-maker Nabil Shaban below. The actor is depicted with wide and gleeful eyes protruding either side of a long sharp nose. His broad smile revealing crooked teeth, his mouth framed by a thick curling beard. To the left of Shaban's portrait is a quote from Time Out Magazine "…entertaining and disturbing. See it." Below in large, underlined italicised capitals, white on black, is the title of the production 'Sideshow'.  Further details in white on black in the footer at the bottom of the flyer include: the Battersea Arts Centre logo with text in a serif-font and the Graeae Theatre Company circular logo, consisting of three hands placed around an eye. The performance dates Thu 28, Fri 29, Sat 30 May at 8 p.m. Tickets £2.30 (members £1.90: concs. £1.00) and the address Old Town Hall, Lavender Hill, SW11. Advance bookings and enquiries 223 8413 Sideshow was Graeae Theatre Company's first production, written by Richard Tomlinson and the company. Tomlinson first began working on the production with fellow Graeae co-founder Nabil Shaban and others at Hereward College for the Disabled in Coventry, where Tomlinson was a lecturer. An earlier version of Sideshow titled 'Ready Salted Crips' ('Crips' being an abbreviation for "cripples") was devised at Hereward in Spring 1975. The group were invited to perform at the International Conference on Rehabilitation and Disability in Winnipeg, Canada in 1980, and a short tour to take place just beforehand was organised for them in the US by the University of Illinois, where Richard Tomlinson had previously studied. Shaban and Tomlinson began recruiting a cast for a touring production of Sideshow in 1979 in London when Tomlinson took on the role as senior adviser for disabled students at the Open University. He and Shaban started to forge plans for putting together Britain's first disabled-led theatre company. They had a name: Graeae, the three old sisters of the Gorgons from Greek mythology, with one eye and one tooth between them. Shaban said in a Guardian article: "The idea of using something from mythology to dispel misconceptions about disability was very important, and we wanted to contain that notion within the name of this embryonic theatre company." Their vision was to use theatre, workshops and training to dispel prejudices and to counter images of defencelessness and accepted myths about disabled people. It took several months to find six disabled performers, three men and three women, to take Sideshow on the road. Each performer had a different impairment. Nabil Shaban with brittle bones, Marion Saunders had muscular dystrophy, Jag Plah had cerebral palsy, Elaine Roberts was a blind person, and Will Kennen became disabled as a child after a road accident. Alex Low had spina bifida and the stage manager was hard of hearing. Turning personal stories about disability into performable scripts and acting them in front of an audience produced electrifying results. For the first time, disabled people were able to control their non-disabled audience, to explain frankly, but without bitterness, exactly what it feels like to live with an impairment. Rehearsals took place at the Diorama near Regent's Park in London. At this stage there was no interest in what they were doing at home but they managed to organise small premieres at London and Surrey Universities before leaving for North America. Sideshow was a huge success in the US where they played to full houses, were guests on chat shows and had excellent media coverage. In Canada they performed to over 700 people who had come from all around the world to attend the conference. On their return, they suddenly found everyone was interested in them – including the BBC who aired an Arena documentary in 1981. Nabil Shaban, who had no previous booking experience, began setting up a UK tour and in January 1981 they staged their performance for the UN’s International Year of Disabled People at the Riverside Studios, Hammersmith. Shaban recalls:
"Richard wasn't happy with the Sideshow script, felt it needed a better ending, and so he was still writing it as he drove half the cast to our first performance at Surrey University. I was already at the venue, getting nervous and impatient, waiting for Richard to arrive with the other half of the company, having to make apologies to the organisers for the delay. Richard arrived, announcing that the script was completed and we had ten minutes to learn the new ending. Despite all this last- minute panic, I was stunned at the audience's enthusiastic reaction, laughing in all the right places, and giving us a standing ovation."
  Graeae publicity for Sideshow dated 1981 says: ‘This comedy, part burlesque, part satire, features an array of characters trapped in a fairground freak show, under the control of their warden, Uncle Sidney. They determine not to be treated as freaks and break out into the real world. With songs like I Want To Be Evil and a show-stopping recreation of the grand Hollywood musical, this controversial play has toured to acclaim.’ "Despite all our attempts to shock and outrage, we were loved by everyone," Shaban says. "Bloody annoying, that." Nabil Shaban was born in Amman, Jordan. As a child he was sent to England for medical care and grew up in a series of hospitals and residential homes, where he had minimal contact with his family and was expected to achieve little educationally. His struggle to gain an education took him first to Hereward College and then to the University of Surrey where he gained a BSc degree in Psychology and Philosophy. Shaban continued on the Board of Graeae through the 1980s and returned to appear as Volpone in Flesh Fly in 1994. His screen roles through that period included the role of Sil in Doctor Who and the films Born of Fire (1983) and City of Joy (1992). Since 2000, Shaban appeared in several productions at Theatre Workshop in Edinburgh, including co-devising D.A.R.E (Disabled Anarchists’ Revolutionary Enclave). Originally commissioned in 1996 by Graeae, his play The First to Go, about the Nazis treatment of disabled people, was produced and toured by Benchtour productions. This audio description was compiled using the following sources: Getting Away From Sidney - Arena BBC TV documentary about Graeae Theatre Company (1981), Richard Tomlinson, Guardian obituary (Brian Astbury Sep 2006); Unfinished Histories interview with Nabil Shaban; Unfinished Histories page on Sideshow Graeae Theatre Company website.   It was commissioned as part of a series of 1000-word essays to mark the launch of NDACA, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Arts Council England. [post_title] => Graeae Theatre Company poster for the production Sideshow [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => graeae-theatre-company-poster-for-the-production-sideshow [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-06-14 16:28:27 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-06-14 16:28:27 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 48 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => page [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 309 [post_author] => 5 [post_date] => 2018-05-01 11:52:07 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-05-01 11:52:07 [post_content] => This audio description has been compiled by Trish Wheatley in January 2018. It was commissioned by Disability Arts Online on behalf of NDACA (the National Disability Arts Collection and Archive). It is approximately 7 minutes and 10 seconds long. Cherub is a small sculpture made from plaster. It features pinky-orange hues across a smooth surface like weathered stone with typical imperfections in the plaster such as the odd scratch or air bubble.  Cherub is a head and top half of a torso with wings stretched out to the sides with minimal detail. The wingspan approximately 20 centimeters from tip to tip. The face is closer to the grotesque faces of the gargoyles seen in Medieval Corbel Sculpture than the cherub popularised by architects like Sir Christopher Wren in the 17th century. Cherub has large features, high cheekbones, full lips and a flat nose. The eyes are hollow without the pupils or iris marked in. Designed to sit above a doorframe, the cherub looks down at the viewer. Growing out of the bald skull are two small blunt horns pointing straight up. The expression on the face of the cherub is not menacing, but has a slightly mocking smile. The wings are formed very simply without detailed feathers but rather a smooth indication of a wing shape with a strong definition at the front that sweeps down into the collarbone and chest. The torso ends above the waist. Adam Reynolds achieved prominence in the art world as a sculptor, curator, gallery owner, arts adviser and campaigner. He is thought to have made the sculpture Cherub in 1986, aged 27 - two years after he opened his pioneering artist-led exhibition space Adam Gallery. Adam Gallery hosted artists like Tracy Emin and Jeremy Deller, long before they became known. It was “A wedge-shaped, labyrinthine ex-cobbler's shop in Walcot Square, South London, which served as a home, studio and gallery” and is likely to be where Cherub was made. Reynolds was born in London in 1959 and grew up in Buckinghamshire. He read medieval history and European literature at Sussex University. His formal arts training came with the study of sculpture at the Sir John Cass School of Art. Reynolds’ approach to sculpture was eclectic, using whichever medium he thought best suited the concept or design. Anecdotally, it is known that Reynolds made other works in plaster, but Cherub appears to be a one off. There is no knowledge of any other editions having been produced. Cherub seems to fit with a series Reynolds made with other gargoyle-type creatures and is typical of his works that explore the different perspectives his physicality brought him. The Shape Arts collection holds an example cast in lead. Cherubs are symbolic of love and purity and were originally adopted into Christian iconography from Greek myth. Reynolds has ‘demonised’ his cherub conveying a message, which could be read as a comment on the dichotomy of being a disabled person - put on a pedestal as an idolised object of sexless innocence - yet vilified on the other hand as a burden to society, unworthy of existence. The fact that Cherub is designed to sit above a doorframe is directly linked to Reynolds’ lived experience in that it mirrors his own perspective on the world to a wider audience, as a wheelchair-user. Reynolds played with the concept of the non-disabled gaze in his work by placing pieces in irregular spaces where people don’t usually look. When presenting at the DA21 conference at Holton Lee in 2002, he said of his work in relation to disability:
“There are always echoes of my experience present; I don’t mind if nobody ever reads them, but if I can’t see that particular perspective of my life in work I make, I know that I’m lying. And if I make work that’s not telling the truth what am I bothering for? So from that perspective, all of my work’s got something to do with disability and my disability.’
Reynolds donated Cherub to the National Disability Arts Collection and Archive during its initial phase based at Holton Lee in Dorset. Here, the beginnings of a collection were being formed in order to raise funds and support for the initiative.  It was displayed in the Farmhouse above the doorway to the dining room, between the kitchen and the office so that staff and visitors would stop to notice and consider that space and the artwork rather than simply passing through. Three years before his untimely death in 2005, Reynolds donated two other items as part of the DA21 conference and exhibition: The Pillar of Damocles and Temptation. Reynolds visited Holton Lee frequently, staying in the holiday cottages. He was commissioned to make one of the Waymarkers, called ‘Shelter’. This temporary piece, no longer in existence, provided a sanctuary from the elements in the forested area of the 350-acre site. In Reynold’s Guardian obituary in 2005, Nicholas Serota, at the time director of Tate galleries said
“Adam was exceptional. His generosity to other artists and his belief in developing the talents of everyone, especially those with special insights into the world gained through their impairment, remains a lesson to us all.”
This audio description was compiled using the following sources: The book Strength: Broadsides from Disability on the Arts by Paddy Masefield, DA21 Disability Arts In the 21st Century conference catalogue, The Holton Lee archive catalogue, Obituaries from the Guardian, the Independent, the Telegraph and the Northern Echo and anecdotes from former Holton Lee employees. It was commissioned as part of a series of 1000-word essays to mark the launch of NDACA, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Arts Council England.   [post_title] => Cherub by Adam Reynolds [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => cherub-by-adam-reynolds [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-06-20 13:43:01 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-06-20 13:43:01 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 48 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => page [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 306 [post_author] => 5 [post_date] => 2018-05-01 11:48:17 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-05-01 11:48:17 [post_content] => This audio description has been compiled by Joe Turnbull in February 2018. It was commissioned by Disability Arts Online on behalf of NDACA (the National Disability Arts Collection and Archive). It is approximately 7 minutes long. Strong Man of Khayelitsha is part drawing-part painting by Rachel Gadsden approximately 46 x 36 cm, in a combination of charcoal and gouache on 300gsm Somerset paper. It is an Expressionistic portrait of Thobani Ncapai [Pron To-BAA-nee N-CAP- I (as in high)], a South African Research Assistant from the University of Cape Town. Ncapai is depicted standing with a pair of crutches. His naked figure is made up of a furious collection of squiggled lines in black charcoal and shaded using white and tan-coloured gouache. This gives it a ghostly, ethereal quality. His upper body is depicted as very slender and he has no hair on his head. He is drawn with an almost defiant expression on his face. His right hand grasps a long, black crutch. It is a forearm crutch, with a cuff around the elbow. His left arm is drawn in multiple positions, giving the effect of movement. The left hand is difficult to make out but also holds a crutch.  Ncapai’s legs are crossed in a relatively natural position as if he’s taking a step forward using the crutches. A third leg is shown behind his buttocks, as if this was the position of the leg before it was swung forwards. To the left of the picture is an ‘L’ shape in a greeny-blue, giving the impression of a door frame. A further sense of movement comes from a background of sweeping fat sandy-brown brushstrokes ranging across the paper behind Ncapai. The drawing was done in October 2011 in a small studio in Muizenberg, South Africa. It was part of Gadsden’s London 2012 Cultural Olympiad commission, Unlimited Global Alchemy, which involved a six-week collaborative residency with the Bambanani artist/activist Group of Khayelitsha Township, Cape Town. The Group formed in 2002 to participate in the creation of memory books and boxes aimed at helping people come to terms with their diagnosis, to disclose their HIV-status to their families and children and to begin the planning for the future. Themes of fragility and survival underpinned the project, relating to the Bambanani group’s circumstance of living with HIV/AIDS and chronic illness resulting from the condition. They were amongst the first people to receive anti-retro-viral treatment in South Africa, courtesy of Médecins Sans Frontières. At the time the drawing was done, Ncapai had lost a huge amount of weight, due to his condition and its treatment. He used crutches as a result of a car accident. Gadsden explains:
“I always called him my strong man because no matter what was thrown at him, he just had this incredible sense of survival. It was also very brave of him to put himself in the position of doing a project with a group of women and being the only man. Even though he only had use of one leg, it always seemed like he had more legs because he was so physical and active.”
Typical of Gadsden’s artistic practice, Strong Man of Khayelitsha is not drawn from a live sitting, or a photograph but from the abstracted impression of the subject by the artist, after the event. Gadsden expands: “It’s about the essence of who he is. Even if I have models in front of me, I’ve become much more interested in an emotional response to what’s in front of me, rather than a literal description. As an artist, it’s a bonus of losing my sight, I feel my whole imagination and sense of creation has grown massively”. Recognising how fortunate he was to have received treatment for his condition, Ncapai helped set up a burial co-operative for migrant workers who came from the Eastern Cape into Cape Town for work. If a member of the co-operative died as a result of HIV/AIDS, the co-operative would help transport their bodies back to their hometown for burial. Ncapai came to the UK to see Unlimited Global Alchemy being exhibited in 2012. At the time of writing, Ncapai is still a Research Assistant at the Centre for Social Science Research, Cape Town University. Gadsden is still in regular contact with him. Strong Man of Khayelitsha is just one work among many in the Unlimited Global Alchemy collection that includes drawings, sketchbooks, paintings and a collection of six films each exploring a different member of the Bambanani Group. A live art performance co-directed by Gadsden and choreographer Athina Vahla, featuring performers Freddie Opoku-Addaie and Sarah Chin was also created as part of the project, as was a project catalogue, published by project producers, Artsadmin. The exhibition was initially on display at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge in June 2012, before going to Liverpool’s Bluecoat and London’s Southbank Centre in August and September, respectively.  Aspects of the exhibition also went to Qatar in 2013 for an Art & Disability Festival programme installed as part of a cross-cultural exchange. Gadsden is an award-winning visual and performance artist based in the UK who works across both the mainstream and disability art sectors. She spent the first twenty years of her life in the Middle East. Gadsden has a BA Fine Art Painting from Wimbledon School of Art and an MA Fine Art from City and Guilds of London Art School. In 2016 she was awarded an honorary doctorate from London South Bank University. Gadsden says her work considers “the most profound notions of what it is to be human”. Gadsden was awarded the National Diversity Award 2013: Positive Role Model for Disability, shortlisted for the European Diversity Awards 2014 - Hero of the Year and was awarded BreakThrough UK Award 2014 - Influencing disabled people’s participation in society. This audio description was compiled using the following sources: Rachel Gadsden’s website. The Unlimited Global Alchemy website. Unlimited Global Alchemy by Rachel Gadsden, published in 2012 by Artsadmin. Rachel Gadsden’s Wikipedia page. Interviews with Rachel Gadsden on Disability Arts Online. Direct conversations with Rachel Gadsden. It was commissioned as part of a series of 1000-word essays to mark the launch of NDACA, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Arts Council England.   [post_title] => Strong Man of Khayelitsha by Rachel Gadsden [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => strong-man-of-khayelitsha-by-rachel-gadsden [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-06-20 13:46:28 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-06-20 13:46:28 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 48 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => page [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 304 [post_author] => 5 [post_date] => 2018-05-01 11:34:05 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-05-01 11:34:05 [post_content] => This audio description has been compiled by Joe Turnbull in November 2017. It was commissioned by Disability Arts Online on behalf of NDACA (the National Disability Arts Collection and Archive). It is read by the author. It is approximately 9 minutes 20 seconds long. This portrait of Baroness Jane Campbell of Surbiton, D.B.E is an oil painting on canvas which is 30 x 36 inches in size by Tanya Raabe-Webber. It is typical of Raabe-Webber’s painting style, characterised by expressive brushstrokes and vivid colours. Whilst clearly figurative, the portrait is not photo-realistic, but highly stylised. Baroness Campbell’s cheeks are a deep orange and there are flecks of turquoise on her neck and in her otherwise-blonde hair. Baroness Campbell is depicted seated in her power-assisted wheelchair. Her left elbow is resting on her lap, with her left hand turned so her palm is facing upwards, her fingers expressively splayed out. Her right arm is positioned on the armrest of the wheelchair, with right hand cupped inwards. A royal seal is resting against her shins. A dark, brimmed hat floats to the left of the picture next to Baroness Campbell in mid air, on it a badge which reads ‘Rights Now’. The background of the painting is filled in with a royal blue. The painting is based upon live paintings and photographs taken during a sitting session at Tate Modern in 2010, and completed in Raabe-Webber’s studio the following year. The piece is part of a wider collection entitled Revealing Culture: Head On, which aimed to ‘challenge the notion of identity, the nude and disability culture within contemporary portraiture’. The project included a number of clothed and nude portraits of prominent disabled people, both artists and campaigners including Sir Bert Massie, Deborah Williams, Simone Aspis, Sophie Morgan, Tom Shakespeare, Sir William Lawrence, Garry Robson and Nabil Shaban. In an interview with Disability Arts Online, Raabe-Webber remarked on the project:
“A research element to the project involved identifying artworks in Tate Modern, Tate Liverpool and Wolverhampton Art Gallery that reflect an aspect of disability culture. I sought to capture public opinion of the artworks and include people’s reactions in the process of developing further artworks. For instance, I’ve been thinking about Matisse’s collage ‘The Snail’ in terms of disability culture. The artwork was made with the aid of a support worker – something people won’t necessarily realize – and which I’m sure people will have an opinion about."
The collection of paintings toured as an exhibition, launching at the Solihull Arts Complex in June 2011, before appearing at Southbank Centre’s The Museum of the World Exhibition between June and August 2012. It also exhibited at HSBC’s headquarters in London in 2013.  Jude Kelly, Artistic Director of the Southbank Centre said of the series '[It’s] groundbreaking and really absolutely necessary,'.  Sandy Nairne, then Director of the National Portrait Gallery described it as ‘impertinent in scale and wonderfully constructed’. Baroness Campbell was an obvious candidate to be a subject for the Revealing Culture: Head On series, as both a member of the House of Lords and a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE). She studied at Hatfield Polytechnic before going on to do an MA at the University of Sussex. In 1996 she co-authored a book entitled Disability Politics and in the same year co-founded and directed the National Centre for Independent Living (NCIL). She was commissioner of the Equality and Human Rights Commission between 2006-8 and was made a life peer as a crossbencher in the House of Lords in 2007. She has been a lifelong campaigner for disability rights. All of the sitters for the Revealing Culture: Head On series were asked to bring objects with them to feature in their portraits. Baroness Campbell brought with her a hat, a royal seal and a framed collection of medals, the latter does not feature in the finished portrait. The hat was given to Baroness Campbell whilst she was on a Rights Not Charity demonstration in the 1980s in the Elephant and Castle area of London, which was calling for universal benefits to allow disabled people to live independently. She continued to wear the hat at protests until her political career really took off: “I put the hat in a cupboard, because I thought that was the end of my direct action”. The Royal Seal in the portrait was given to Baroness Campbell when she became a peer of the realm on 30 March 2007. Baroness Campbell said of the experience of sitting for the painting:
“The interactive portrait painting session was great fun. I thought I would be bored and fidgety, but because I could talk with the artist, as she worked (and with the observers who joined us in the afternoon), I felt engaged and entertained. The experience was quite surreal at times, but I guess that’s to be expected in the Tate Modern with Tanya Raabe at the easel. Her paintings certainly capture the more bizarre moments of my – and I suspect – other disabled people’s lives!”
Tanya Raabe-Webber was born in Scarborough. She studied for a BA (hons) in Graphic Design at Leeds Polytechnic, an MA in Communication Design at Manchester Metropolitan University and has a PGCE in Higher Education from Huddersfield University. Raabe-Webber has been a practising artist since 1987. The majority of her work is portraiture, usually of disabled or otherwise marginalised subjects. She was winner of the Ability Media International Award, Visual Arts in 2010 and DaDa International Festival, Visual Arts Award 2008. Raabe-Webber has also appeared on the BBC’s The Culture Show, undertaking a live televised portrait of the actor, musician and performance artist Mat Fraser and was shortlisted for The National Diversity Awards Lifetime Achievement. Revealing Culture: Head On was preceded by a similar project in 2008 entitled ‘Who’s Who – Defining Faces of an Arts Movement’. It featured portraits of established and emerging disabled artists who pioneered disability arts and culture including Dr Paul Darke, Colin Hambrook, Mat Fraser, Tony Heaton, Julie McNamara, Zoe Partington-Sollinger and Allan Sutherland. In 2016, Raabe-Webber followed both of these projects up with Portraits Untold: four live portrait sittings with high profile sitters in well-known venues across the UK. This included David Hoyle at Beningbrough Hall, John Akomfrah at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Evelyn Glennie at the National Portrait Gallery and Neil Baldwin at Stoke City Football Club. This project expanded the range of sitters to include people from other diverse backgrounds, not just disabled people. This audio description was compiled using the following sources: Tanya Raabe-Webber’s website  Tanya Raabe-Webber’s blog The Portraits Untold project An interview with Tanya Raabe-Webber on Disability Arts Online’s archived website  The Revealing Culture Head On project blog A YouTube interview with Jane Campbell about the sitting An interview with Tanya Raabe-Webber on the BBC Ouch website  Baroness Jane Campbell’s Wikipedia page Baroness Jane Campbell’s profile on the website  It was commissioned as part of a series of 1000-word essays to mark the launch of NDACA, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Arts Council England. [post_title] => Portrait of Baroness Jane Campbell of Surbiton by Tanya Raabe-Webber [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => portrait-of-baroness-jane-campbell-of-surbiton-by-tanya-raabe-webber [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-06-14 16:28:27 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-06-14 16:28:27 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 48 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => page [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 302 [post_author] => 5 [post_date] => 2018-05-01 11:27:58 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-05-01 11:27:58 [post_content] => This audio description has been compiled by Colin Hambrook in February 2018. It was commissioned by Disability Arts Online on behalf of NDACA (the National Disability Arts Collection and Archive). It is approximately 10 minutes 50 seconds long. This is one of a series of four Self Portraits made in pastel by Nancy Willis in 1983. In this half-length portrait, a woman sits in a wheelchair. The figure and chair, in three quarter view, face to the right. Turning back towards us, the stylised head is angled down and nestles into her shoulder. The face is drawn in a sculptural fashion with curves of smeared pastel suggesting the depth of eye sockets and the bridge of a nose. The softer, speckled pale blue tones of the background paper appear through one side of the face, giving the figure an ethereal quality. One shoulder is lifted as she leans on the armrest, while her other shoulder is hidden from view. The arms and wheels of the chair, which spread beyond the picture plane, are suggested with a few black lines filled out in ultramarine blue with hints of cobalt. The figure is predominantly yellow. However, a streak of red appears in the top-left corner of the image, balancing the reds in the torso and hips and adding to the three dimensionality of the image. Although the figure has a strong presence, it is as if she floats in a state of reverie. Nancy Willis is a London-based artist who works in a wide range of media, including painting and printmaking. "As a child I was able to run about and play with my four brothers, dreaming of becoming an explorer, or joining the circus as a trapeze artist. But as I grew up I gradually became disabled by Muscular Dystrophy and ended up at a residential 'special' school. By the time I left I was no longer able to walk or run about, but I was longing for freedom and adventure." Art College was a natural choice for Nancy. She studied at North East London Polytechnic [1972-5], first exhibiting in 1982: A Festival of Artists with Disabilities. It was around this time that Nancy became aware of the work of Frida Kahlo and was deeply moved by the artist’s representations of herself as a disabled woman. Drawn to Kahlo's fierce honesty in expressing both the passion and the pain of her experience, Nancy resolved to make work that spoke authentically of her own life: “I wanted to show how it feels to be a young woman in a wheelchair.” Self Portrait 1 (pastel on Ingres paper), was first shown in 1984 as part of a group show:
‘Artists with Disabilities: Coming into View, Coming into Reach’. In the exhibition catalogue the artist describes her process of making the drawing as being a search for an inner self: "I have done self-portraits before by looking in the mirror… as if I was somebody else. Now it is from my feelings that I am trying to draw myself… these are the most personal things I have ever tried to do."
From the early 1980s Nancy became a significant artist in the newly emerging disability pride and civil rights movement, taking part in several important exhibitions curated by disability-led arts organizations: Out Of Ourselves, Diorama, London (1990), Defiance: Art Confronting Disability, City Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke on Trent (1993), Unleashed: Images & Experiences of Disability, Laing Gallery, Newcastle (1995). She had her first solo exhibition at Diorama Art Gallery, curated by London Disability Arts Forum (1997). Self Portrait I is a pastel on Ingres paper, which is textured with an almost invisible grain. The artwork represents the artist’s first experiments in drawing from her subjective experience of the world, to evoke an expressionistic, emotional interpretation of it. The tones of the ultramarine blue of the chair and yellows of the torso and arms are equally balanced. The warmer yellow and red tones, which would naturally come to the fore, are held in check by the sweeping and angular blue marks representing the wheelchair. The drawing conveys a balance between the freedom to explore the world afforded by the artist’s wheelchair and the constraints of society’s objectification of disability. From 1990 - 1992 Nancy became Artist in Residence at Hammersmith Hospital, making work for permanent display as part of the Hospital’s art collection. She made many drawings of babies in the neonatal unit. These studies were the beginning of ‘Early Days, Holding Promise’, a mixed media work that captures the fragility of human life. Further sculptural works include ‘Taking Leave’ and ’Seeking Comfort’, in which the strength of the bronze she cast contrasts with the tremendous fragility and nurturing quality in the figures represented. These works find expression not only for the artist’s struggle with illness and increasing disability, but also reflect her inner fears and sense of vulnerability. Years of working with complex media made Nancy long for something simpler. In the decade that followed her residency she went back to painting, but abandoned brushes. Working instinctively, without planning, she stroked and dabbed the paint with her fingers until new imagery emerged: pictures not for the mind but for the heart. Her paintings spoke from a unique perspective and understanding of life and death, some expressed her vitality and joyous energy while others were driven by the sadness and deep sense of loss she felt after the death of two of her four beloved brothers. In 2003 Nancy became Artist in Residence at the Byam Shaw School of Art. With access to printmaking facilities and with expert guidance, she developed a process that combined drawing with printmaking. She arrived at a series of landscape monoprints using the muted tones of dawn, cloudy days and twilight. “In these landscapes of fields, hills and trees, animals go about their business, grazing, roaming or standing together in quiet communion...  These animals are the heroes in the stories told through my marks, textures and colours.” In 2007 Nancy made an award-winning documentary ‘Elegy for the Elswick Envoy’, shown on Channel 4 as part of their ‘New Shoots’ season of short films made by disabled directors. The film is a loving portrait of the artist’s unique, wheelchair-friendly car. In this personal road movie, Nancy can see her own struggle for continuing mobility mirrored in the increasingly unreliable performance of her battered old car. As it reaches the end of its working life, Nancy sets out to find a final resting place for her beloved Elswick Envoy, to ensure that it will not vanish without trace from motoring history. Between 2008 - 2010, Nancy made ‘Transformation’: A digital moving image project, inspired by 'The Explorer' - a series of poems by Allan Sutherland commissioned by Disability Arts Online. The themes in Transformation partly emerge from external difficulties and partly from those inner conflicts, which are rarely explored territory in the struggle for equality and human rights. The animations explore complex ideas about the nature of memory, identity and disability, catching fragments of the past, which might be lost forever if not documented in some way. In 2012, recovering from a serious illness and a long period of hospitalisation, Nancy needed to reconnect with the world: to draw from life and be out in the air looking at nature. “With my increased disability, it was a challenge to find a new way of drawing. Holding the paper on my lap, I made small-scale images by moving the paper as well as the pen.” Subsequent illnesses have stolen more of Nancy’s strength, so that she can no longer hold a pen.  But with the help of an innovative NHS Occupational Therapist, a special hand splint has been created, enabling her to write and draw again. Nancy says: “Although there are many ways of making art, I never want to lose my ability to simply make a mark on paper”.   This audio description was compiled using the following sources: Exhibition catalogue: ‘Xposure’ Disability Arts Festival, Concourse Gallery, Byam Shaw School of Art (2003) Exhibition catalogue: ‘Coming Into View, Coming Into Reach’, Norwood Library, (1984) The Incorrigibles: Perspectives on Disability Visual Arts in the 20th and 21st Centuries published by DASH (2016) Transformation Part 1 and Part 2: Disability Arts Online (2010) Nancy Willis website Conversation with Nancy Willis It was commissioned as part of a series of 1000-word essays to mark the launch of NDACA, funded by Heritage Lottery Fund, Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Arts Council England. [post_title] => Self Portrait 1, pastel on Ingres paper by Nancy Willis [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => self-portrait-1-pastel-on-ingres-paper-by-nancy-willis [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-06-20 13:49:04 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-06-20 13:49:04 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 48 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => page [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 300 [post_author] => 5 [post_date] => 2018-05-01 11:23:28 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-05-01 11:23:28 [post_content] => This audio description has been compiled by Colin Hambrook in December 2017. It was commissioned by Disability Arts Online on behalf of NDACA (the National Disability Arts Collection and Archive). It is read by Colin Hambrook. It is approximately 10 minutes long. This is a black and white photo of disabled singer, songwriter and activist Johnny Crescendo, taken at a Block Telethon protest outside the London Weekend Television studios in July 1991. He is depicted playing an acoustic guitar and sitting behind a microphone attached to a stand. The singer wears a peaked hat and a black t-shirt with the words ‘Block Telethon, Piss on Pity’ printed on it in white block letters. Behind him is a wire mesh fence in front of a car park at the entrance of the television studios. Attached to the fence are a number of handwritten placards. Above the singer two placards read ‘Apartheid Telethon’ and ‘Telethon is a pimp’. To the right of the photo two partially concealed placards, one overlaps the other and they are both slightly out of shot, read: ‘charity segregates, rights integrate’ and ‘Employers, don’t give us charity, give us jobs’. Angry about ITV’s charity fundraiser Telethon and the demeaning portrayal of disabled people as objects of pity, that the television show proselytised, the ‘Block Telethon’ umbrella organisation was formed by over eighty disability groups in May 1990. The protest depicted in the photograph took place in July 1991, which was the only year that ITV did not broadcast the Telethon. There were three ITV Telethons: in 1988, 1990 and 1992. Each lasted for 27 hours, taking over the television network and all were hosted by Michael Aspel for the purpose of raising money for charity through phoned-in credit card donations. Alan Holdsworth was one of a number of disabled activists who organised the protest outside the London Weekend Television studios. He came to prominence as a politically savvy poet and songwriter in the 1980s under the stage name of Johnny Crescendo and shared stages with punk-poet contemporaries, such as Billy Bragg, Chumbawumba and John Cooper Clark. He was founder of the Direct Action Network (DAN) – a grassroots network of disabled people who use non-violent civil disobedience as a means to fight for equality and disability rights. Voted a disability legend by Disability Now, the singer-songwriter has been described as the Bob Dylan of the Disability Movement. His songs have changed lives and his activism has changed society, forcing the issue of Disability Rights to the attention of wider society from a time when institutionalisation and segregation of disabled people was commonplace. As a pioneer of Disability Arts, Holdsworth created many disability-themed anthems for the Disabled People’s Movement such as Choices and Rights, Tear Down The Walls and Pride. Expressing the frustration and indignity of lives fractured from mainstream society the singer-songwriter’s repertoire of songs include ballads about people trapped in institutions, satires of the charity mentality and proud anthems of empowerment. In 1990 he coined the phrase ‘piss on pity’, as an angry riposte to the stereotypes that disabled people experience.

Choices and Rights

That’s what we gotta fight for Choices and rights in our lives I don’t want your benefit I want dignity from where I sit I want choices and rights in our lives I don’t want you to speak for me I got my own autonomy I want choices and rights in our lives   Describing his motivation for getting involved in organising the 1991 Block Telethon campaign Holdsworth says:
“I was uncomfortable when I encountered charity events and the disabled people on them who made a profession out of being needy and helpless. Please and thank you were the best lines in their script. Passiveness and helpless was not attractive to me. At this time I was surrounded by a different kind of cripple. They called themselves Cripps, they were proud angry and strong; they didn’t buy this bullshit and hadn’t sold their souls to the celebrity, the charity or anyone. The more I delved the more I understood that far from being benign, charities were actually holding disabled people back and even more, they were keeping us in institutions away from everyone else. But the worst damage of all was what they were doing to our heads and our self-image and the image that everyone else had of us. Disabled people bought this image and were compliant, grateful, skilled beggars. Non-disabled people swallowed the story and felt good to give money and keep us away. We were the heartwarming story on the local news, the first port of call for a fading superstar caught with a prostitute or a politician embezzling funds. Friends of mine in the music business who were making it told me that one of the first things a top agent told them was to ‘get a crip charity. Royalty have been doing it for years! So has Hollywood.’ The finances of charities were questionable. First the celebrities never turned up for nothing. The charities didn’t employ disabled people and who decided where the money went? Not us. To top it all the ITV telethon was portraying disgusting images of disabled people like having grown men who had lost their limbs strip down to show their prosthesis. I can’t remember one good thing about any of the images and messages from Telethon.”
  Elspeth Morrison who took the photograph was Editor of Disability Arts In London Magazine (DAIL) from 1987-1993 and was produced by the London Disability Arts Forum. The photograph featured in an editorial in DAIL Magazine. Morrison describes the occasion as taking place ‘Outside ITV Studios with desperately shocked and confused celebrity types walking by us!’ The Block Telethon protests were a significant victory for the Disabled People's Movement. They gave confidence to an emerging group of disabled activists, achieving a cultural shift by getting across the message that the ’crips’ are not passive. Run and controlled by disabled people, ‘Rights Not Charity!’ was the Disability Movement’s call to arms challenging the view that charity has a central role in the provision of services for disabled people and demanding an end to discrimination. The final day of protest was 29th July 1992 when 2000 disabled people gathered outside the LWT Studios on the South Bank to challenge negative stereotypes being fostered by Telethon. It was never broadcast on television again. The Disability Movement continues to unveil discrimination and advocate for disability rights. One of its main tools is the Social Model of Disability, which describes ‘disability’ as society’s default position of placing physical and attitudinal barriers in front of disabled people and unnecessarily isolating and excluding disabled people from full participation in society. This audio description was compiled using the following sources: Disability Arts Online interview with Johnny Crescendo, Can Do Musos, Northumbria University: Tragic but brave or just crips with chips? Songs and their lyrics in the Disability Arts Movement in Britain by Dr Colin Cameron The National Adapt Facebook page: The Story of Piss on Pity by Alan Holdsworth It was commissioned as part of a series of 1000-word essays to mark the launch of NDACA, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Arts Council England.   Photo of Johnny Crescendo (real name Alan Holdsworth) by Elspeth Morrison [post_title] => Johnny Crescendo, Block Telethon protest [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => johnny-crescendo-block-telethon-protest [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-06-14 16:28:27 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-06-14 16:28:27 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 48 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => page [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 297 [post_author] => 5 [post_date] => 2018-05-01 11:17:32 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-05-01 11:17:32 [post_content] => This audio description has been compiled by Colin Hambrook in January 2018. It was commissioned by Disability Arts Online on behalf of NDACA (the National Disability Arts Collection and Archive). It is approximately 6 minutes long. Steve Cribb (1944-1994) was renowned for his digital print-making. This example consists of a square, monochrome image placed in the middle of a white rectangular piece of paper, with the title 'Going Out' and the date June '92 below the computer-made digital image. It consists of the blue tracks of a wheelchair running diagonally from bottom right to top left. The tracks enclose a set of footprints, moving in the same direction. Running across the opposite diagonal, from bottom left to top right, are the lines of a set of light-blue pavement slabs. A third element is a haphazard white line that sprays from an ice-cream cone shape, crossing up over the sets of wheelchair and footprint tracks and ends in the lower left hand corner of the image. Steve Cribb was a talented writer, artist and as well as being a politician. As a councilor for the London borough of Hounslow he was a strong advocate of disability rights and a respected member of the Disability Movement. He was a member of the London Disability Arts Forum and exhibited his artwork widely during the first half of the 1990s. His work featured in several group exhibitions: ‘Hanging Up in Hounslow’ as part of the Louder than Words festival (London, 1991 and 1992); the ‘How We Like It’ exhibition at the Diorama, London (1993); 'Defiance: Art Confronting Disability' at City Museum and Art Gallery, Stoke on Trent (1993). Posthumously, a solo show ‘Famous Now I'm Dead’ was exhibited at Waterman's Arts Centre, London (1994) and as part of Unleashed: Images and Experience of Disability at the Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle (1995). Cribb returned to making art in 1989 after a long break in producing artwork. A quote from the artist exemplifies something of his determination and resilience: "As I lost the ability to draw with my hands, I became more and more intent on producing pictures." Following the influence of his sculptor grandfather Joseph Cribb, Steve Cribb was a strong advocate of the artist’s' vision as the primary component of art and used artists' assistants to realise his paintings: "The use of other people's unskilled but willing hands allows me to produce Directed Paintings and later on with more experienced artists, I have made Collaborative Paintings." Cribb was also a pioneer of digital drawing, when in 1990 he began using an Apple Mac computer. With the use of a Headstart View Control Pack to convert head movements into cursor moves, he experimented with a range of genres from portraits and graphics to cartoons, often using visual jokes to comment on disability discrimination. As well as being an advocate, Cribb was also a keen critic of disability arts. In Summer 1992 he published a controversial article in Disability Arts In London Magazine, entitled: ‘Are Disabled Artists Cotton Wooled?’ in which he discusses the pitfalls of the disability arts movement as an insular world lacking in aesthetic criticism. In it, he wrote:
“Because of discrimination and the like, disabled people-underachieve. There is such a low expectation of what we can do, that doing anything stuns Society into shocked amazement. We get over-praised for our most moderate achievements and, inevitably, we bathe in our moments of glory. Supportive families and segregated education, make objectivity difficult for us to grasp. But we must learn the truth about our strengths and weaknesses if we wish to truly fulfil our lives. Our various impairments should not allow us to rob ourselves of some home truths: most people are ordinary, so are we; most people are passive consumers of life, so are we; some people are talented achievers, so are some of us." However, if we show some real “gift”, the ubiquitous praising and our own lack of objectivity can have stultifying results. They stop us from striving for improvement and so from reaching the heights of self-expression and acclaim for which all Artists strive.”
'Going out' stands as an historical example of the beginnings of the development in digital technologies and how they have empowered disabled artists to be creative. Cribb had an absurdist sense of humour which is highlighted in a description of the work by Alex Cowan, NDACA's Archivist: "The image is simple: But simplicity can be suggestive, and this artwork definitely raises questions around the subjective experience of disability. Are they the footprints of a wheelchair user, or has their journey been spent with someone else? Where will the journey end? The image clearly expresses the universal joys of freedom of movement, discovery and immersion in the natural world. ‘Going Out’ is 'disability art' that speaks to the widest possible audience, by referencing and interpreting common experiences." This audio description was compiled using the following sources: DAM Magazines Summer 1993 and 1994, Disability Arts Online; Disability Arts Chronology by Allan Sutherland, Artist Obituary supplied by NDACA and direct quotes from the NDACA archivist Alex Cowan. It was commissioned as part of a series of 1000-word essays to mark the launch of NDACA, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Arts Council England. [post_title] => Going Out by Steve Cribb [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => going-out-by-steve-cribb [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-06-20 13:50:26 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-06-20 13:50:26 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 48 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => page [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [10] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 294 [post_author] => 5 [post_date] => 2018-05-01 11:13:57 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-05-01 11:13:57 [post_content] => This audio description has been compiled by Colin Hambrook in February 2018. It was commissioned by Disability Arts Online on behalf of NDACA (the National Disability Arts Collection and Archive). It is approximately 8 minutes 50 seconds long. This is the cover of a 24-page pamphlet published in 1976. Printed in black on red binding, the title in a Times New Roman font reads: THE UNION OF THE PHYSICALLY IMPAIRED AGAINST SEGREGATION and THE DISABILITY ALLIANCE discuss Fundamental Principles of Disability. The text is centred and the names of the organisations are in block capitals while the title is in large upper and lower case lettering. The Union of the Physically Impaired Against Segregation (UPIAS) was an early disability rights organisation which established the principles that the Social Model of Disability was based upon. The Fundamental Principles of Disability was a leading influence in revolutionising disabled people’s understanding of their role in society. As such, The Fundamental Principles of Disability became a cornerstone for the development of Disability Studies – an academic discipline that examines the meaning, nature, and consequences of disability as a socially constructed phenomenon. Within the booklet UPIAS states that:
“In our view, it is society which disables physically impaired people. Disability is something imposed on top of our impairments, by the way we are unnecessarily isolated and excluded from full participation in society. Disabled people are therefore an oppressed group in society. It follows from this analysis that having low incomes, for example, is only one aspect of our oppression. It is a consequence of our isolation and segregation, in every area of life, such as education, work, mobility, housing, etc.”
Although disability activism can be traced back to the 1800s, this was a ground-breaking insight in terms of an emerging disability community of activists realigning disability identity in a new and radical way. The idea that individuals were not disabled by their impairments but by the barriers that society places in their way was a key understanding and involved a rejection of the Medical Model perception of disabled people as being in need of correction and cure. The Social Model was taken on by an emerging Disabled People’s Movement. UPIAS’ way of thinking was to focus on the disabling aspects of society at the root of discrimination and to highlight a need to break the link between definitions of impairment and disability. The Fundamental Principles of Disability defines:
“impairment as lacking part of or all of a limb, or having a defective limb, organ or mechanism of the body; and disability as the disadvantage or restriction of activity caused by a contemporary social organisation which takes no or little account of people who have physical impairments and thus excludes them from participation in the mainstream of social activities. Physical disability is therefore a particular form of social oppression.”
UPIAS was founded in 1972 by Paul Hunt (1937-1979) when he invited disabled people to form a group to confront disability issues. Hunt printed a letter in The Guardian newspaper on 20 September 1972, and in the Magic Carpet newsletter of the Disabled Drivers Association, calling for a radical union of disabled people to fight for mainstream rights and to fight against segregation. Many members of UPIAS lived in residential institutions run by big charities and feared discrimination if their activities became known. Membership of UPIAS was by invitation only and remained confidential to prevent the organisations that controlled their lives from taking reprisals. Over time UPIAS produced a private newsletter, the Confidential Circular and a public newsletter Disability Challenge. In 1976 UPIAS published its Fundamental Principles of Disability which became its manifesto and a seminal document for the British Disabled People’s Movement. The Disability Alliance was set up in 1974 representing a group of disability organisations with the aim to press government to create a comprehensive disability income scheme. The Disability Alliance believed that society should pay an income to all disabled people, based on ‘severity of disablement’. Much of the conversation in The Fundamental Principles of Disability is laid out as an argument between members of UPIAS and members of the Disability Alliance. Both organisations were advocates of disability rights, however they differed in terms of their understanding of how to define disability. The impact of the ongoing precedent this document set was to encourage disabled people to take control of their lives. The Fundamental Principles of Disability empowered disabled people to stop viewing impairment as the cause of the problems they faced, but rather the way society responds from a Medical Model perception which often patronises and discriminates. Leading members of UPIAS included Paul Hunt, Vic Finkelstein and Ken and Maggie Davis. The Davises pioneered independent living, by commissioning their own housing scheme at Grove Road in Sutton in Ashfield. After four years of work including buying the land, working with architects and bringing in adapted fittings from Sweden, they moved in on 13 September 1976. Another impact of an emerging Social Model understanding was the placing of a stronger emphasis on disabled people’s organisations being run and controlled by disabled people. This represented a huge shift in power balance, challenging disability charities – which were and still are – largely run by non-disabled people, to rethink their approach towards the communities they were set up to serve. An unabridged version of The Fundamental Principles of Disability scanned and reformatted from the original by Mark Priestley, in consultation with Vic Finkelstein and Ken Davis in 1997 resides on the Leeds University Disability Studies archive. An editor’s note in the preface reads: “Being a summary of the discussion held on 22nd November, 1975 and containing commentaries from each organisation.” This audio description was compiled using the following sources: Leeds University Disability Studies Archive Liberation Architecture: Maggie Davis and the Birth of Independent Living. - A History of Place Timeline detailing key events in the seminal Grove Road Housing Scheme – the first independent living scheme in the UK - A History of Place A public history of Manchester UPIAS – the Union of the Physically Impaired Against Segregation - Tony Baldwinson The Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People It was commissioned as part of a series of 1000-word essays to mark the launch of NDACA, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Arts Council England     [post_title] => Fundamental Principles of Disability [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => fundamental-principles-of-disability [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-06-20 13:51:35 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-06-20 13:51:35 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 48 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => page [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [11] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 292 [post_author] => 5 [post_date] => 2018-05-01 11:03:47 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-05-01 11:03:47 [post_content] => This audio description has been compiled by Joe Turnbull in March 2018. It was commissioned by Disability Arts Online on behalf of NDACA (the National Disability Arts Collection and Archive). It is approximately 8 minutes 40 seconds long. Freak Show is a framed lithograph print of A1 size by disabled visual artist Eddy Hardy. A male wheelchair user of slightly heavier than average build dominates the centre of the work, his arms resting on either wheel. He is seated at a 45-degree angle to the viewer’s perspective, his head looking over his right shoulder. He is wearing a set of glasses, the frames shaded in – so they could be sunglasses. His clothes are plain with little perceptible detail. He has quite a neutral expression on his face, considering the menacing nature of the situation he is in. The central figure is in the middle of a circular cage, forming a round concrete barrier with dark prison bars rising in a semi-circular fashion up to the top of the image. The bars are equidistant and emerge from the top of the barrier at the wheelchair-user’s chest height. On the other side of the cage are a series of floating heads looking in on the central figure ominously. They are staring at him in a disturbing fashion, some of the heads seemingly jeering at him in a mocking way. All of the onlookers have ill-defined features and no hair. Being a lithograph, the image is all in dark tones of grey and black, using shading to great effect. This adds to the overall sense of foreboding that the image instils on the viewer. The paper it’s printed on is a yellowy off-white and has a signature in the bottom-right corner. The image was created by Hardy some time between 1990 and 1991. The central figure loosely resembles the artist himself, as he remarks:
“Although I used myself as a basis for the main figure, it is not a self-portrait. It was more a general statement with regards to disabled people, rather than being strictly autobiographical. The piece was based upon my experience as a disabled person – of being stared at or ‘put on show’ by various people and organisations”.
When he was younger, Hardy initially shunned his status as a disabled person, as he is quoted as saying in Tom Shakespeare’s The Sexual Politics of Disability (1996): `’If I saw anyone who was disabled I didn’t want to talk to them, and if I did talk to them it was as if I was able-bodied, doing the old patronising bit”. But he later embraced his disability identity, which can be seen in Freak Show and other later works. The title of the piece is a clear reference to the freak shows, which objectified physical difference starting in the 16th Century and reaching their pinnacle in the Victorian-era travelling circuses. The cage in the picture clearly alludes to this. Whilst the ‘freak shows’ of this nature are mostly a thing of the past, Hardy draws parallels with the contemporary disabled experience of being ‘othered’ and chastised as a result of being visibly different. The freak show has provided ample ammunition for critical, defiant disability art for decades, and was also referenced in David Hevey’s seminal 1995 film, Freak Out. The era when Hardy’s ‘Freak Show’ was created marked something of a watershed moment in the disability arts movement, as Disability Arts Online Editor Colin Hambrook observes: “Up to that point the movement was about getting people out of institutions, fighting for the means of independent living. From 1990 onwards is when art became more prominent in the struggle for Disability Rights. The setting up of London Disability Arts Forum (LDAF) [pronounced El-Daf] in 1987 was a catalyst for that change.” Hardy’s motivation for the piece was to address the lack of art which really reflected the disabled experience:
“At that time there was very little in the way of issue-based art or anything that I felt was ‘Disability Art’; for me that meant art created by disabled people, primarily for an audience of disabled people that dealt with issues around Disability Culture including discrimination.”
In 1993, Hardy’s work appeared in an exhibition called Defiance: Art confronting Disability, at the City Museum and Art Gallery, Stoke on Trent. Other artists in that exhibition would go on to become stalwarts of the Disability Arts Movement, including Tanya Raabe, Steve Cribb, Adam Reynolds, David Hevey and Nancy Willis. There is a high chance Freak Show appeared in this exhibition, but this could not be confirmed. Hardy appeared in a number of other high-profile Disability Arts exhibitions throughout the 1990s including: Unleashed: Images and Experience of Disability (Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle), 1995; Art Through the Front Door (Diorama Gallery March 1995, then touring the country during 1995 and 1996. Part of Fair's Fair, the 1995 Disability Arts Festival organised by Essex County Council); Wrong Bodies Exhibition and performances (Institute for Contemporary Arts, London 1999). Hardy also featured in the Millennium Meltdown Disability Arts and Cultural Diversity Festival in 2000 in the visual art exhibition element at Pump Rooms Gallery, Warwickshire. Freak Show has been held as part of the NDACA [pronounced En-Dac-Ar] archive from its early incarnations at Holton Lee. It has been in the collection so long, that until recently, Hardy had thought that the artwork had been stolen. Hardy’s style changed over time, moving away from that characterised by Freak Show, as he explains: “My work developed from this to large scale nude self-portraits dealing with sexuality, disability and identity.” An example of this can be found elsewhere in the NDACA archive. Hardy was born in Merseyside in 1965. He studied at Coventry University, where he graduated with a BA (Hons) in Fine Art in 1992. In 2005 he completed an MA in Fine Art at University of Northumbria, Newcastle where he now resides. “Although I have not produced much work over the last few years I still consider myself a practicing artist. Whilst I may draw or paint any subject matter, much of my work deals with the same issues and the human condition. Having had changes in my health, I have produced some recent work based on those experiences.” This audio description was compiled using the following sources: Eddy Hardy’s website Disability Studies: A Student’s Guide edited by Colin Cameron Allan Sutherland’s Disability Arts Chronology, published on Disability Arts Online Wikipedia page on freak shows Conversations with Colin Hambrook, Editor of DAO Conversations with Eddy Hardy It was commissioned as part of a series of 1000-word essays to mark the launch of NDACA, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Arts Council England. [post_title] => Eddy Hardy: Freak Show [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => eddy-hardy-freak-show [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-06-20 13:58:22 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-06-20 13:58:22 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 48 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => page [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [12] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 290 [post_author] => 5 [post_date] => 2018-05-01 10:58:15 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-05-01 10:58:15 [post_content] => This audio description has been compiled by Joe Turnbull in February 2017. It was commissioned by Disability Arts Online on behalf of NDACA (the National Disability Arts Collection and Archive). It is approximately 7 minutes 40 seconds long. Freaks Out is a black and white framed poster of roughly A4 size. The main image in the centre of the poster is a film still taken from David Hevey’s 1995 film, Freak Out. It depicts a prepared goat’s carcass, skinned, with its feet and head removed sitting in a wheelchair against a simple background of indistinct material. The wheelchair has large back wheels, pushing-handles and foot rests, and is typical of the type of wheelchair available on the NHS in the mid-90s. The way the carcass is positioned in the wheelchair gives the effect of it throwing its (non-existent) head back, perhaps in laughter. White text against bands of black across the top of the poster read ‘National Film Theatre’ in block capitals. White text on a band of black across the bottom, gives the dates 8-10 September and phone number for the box office displayed alongside the National Film Theatre and British Film Institute logos. In the top left of the film still, is a rectangular box with the words Freaks Out. Freaks appears in black text in the white top half of the box, Out appears inverted in white text on the black bottom half ). Underneath  black lower case text  reads ‘A Season on Disability and Cinema.’ In the bottom-right smaller text written vertically credits the image ‘Photo: Freak Out’. Although the image in the poster is black and white, the film from which the still is taken was in colour. Hevey’s Freak Out was the first in a trilogy of films commissioned by the BBC’s Disability Programmes Unit for the series ‘Over the Edge’ which was edited by Ian McRae. The other two films were entitled ‘Remember Me’ and ‘Boo!’. All three were written, directed and produced by Hevey. Each film was approximately 30 minutes long and had original air dates of 2 August 1995 (Freak Out), 17 September 1996 (Remember Me) and 1 October 1997 (Boo!). They aired on BBC Two in the 23:15pm slot. The trilogy was pioneering in both its depiction of disabled people and the techniques used to tell the story. Like high-end advertising of the time, the series was shot on film by Andrew Douglas. The soundtracks used a combination of commissioned scores, performance poetry, sung narration and prose. The trilogy employed theatre-designed settings and used “operatic heightened realist staging to create made-strange mise-en-scène inhabited with challenging images of contributors in cages or naked”. Each film had elements of oral history and used personal testimony from a broad range of disabled experience. Freak Out explores themes of desire, power and sexuality in relation to disabled people. It subverts the ableist gaze with contrasting images of disabled people as objects of desire (in states of undress or working out) and invocations of problematic ‘freakshow’ images. For example, one contributor, Tina Leslie is repeatedly pictured in a cage, which was her own suggestion as that is how society positions her. The film explores notions of the Ancient Greek’s still prevalent idea of the ‘Body Beautiful,’ and medical model attitudes towards impairment. It examines the relationship between power and beauty, positing that as disabled people have been disempowered they have internalised their own oppression and asexual depictions. The film suggests that as disabled people reclaim their bodies and seize power, they will become more widely accepted as beautiful. Hevey remarked on the trilogy:
“I wanted to change how outsiders are seen. I have a few creative ideas - that how the outsider sees themselves is not how the world positions them, that everyone has agency no matter how oppressive their life, and that films should be journalistically true, yet take positions. For FREAK OUT, the challenge was basically how to show oppression without showing victims. The stories are of oppression, but the images are of defiance.”
Freak Out received a large amount of mainstream press attention, with major features written about it in both The Times and the Guardian. It tripled viewing figures for its post-watershed timeslot. Buoyed by the reception of Freak Out, the British Film Institute (then the National Film Theatre) programmed a season of disability cinema in September 1996, borrowing the name from the film.  Little information is available about the BFI programme. David Hevey is a cultural producer, filmmaker, photographer and current CEO of Shape Arts. Before taking up this post he was Project Director at NDACA. Hevey’s film credits include three films for the landmark BBC documentary series Modern Times, and he has appeared as a presenter and critic, respectively, on From The Edge and The Late Review, both on BBC 2. Hevey also wrote the book The Creatures Time Forgot: Photography and Disability Imagery, described as ‘a political autobiography’ which was published by Routledge in 1992. His photography was also featured in Photography: A Cultural History published by Laurence King Publishing in 2006. Hevey is considered a pioneer in shifting visual representations of disabled people through both his film and photography work, and a strong advocate for disabled people’s rights. This audio description was compiled using the following sources: David Hevey’s website A BBC Article about the NDACA archive Archive of The Radio Times, the BBC Genome project The original trilogy of films, ‘Freak Out’, ‘Remember Me’ and ‘Boo! Conversations with David Hevey It was commissioned as part of a series of 1000-word essays to mark the launch of NDACA, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Arts Council England. [post_title] => National Film Theatre poster: Freaks Out: A Season on Disability and Cinema [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => national-film-theatre-poster-freaks-out-a-season-on-disability-and-cinema [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-06-20 13:59:08 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-06-20 13:59:08 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 48 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => page [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [13] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 288 [post_author] => 5 [post_date] => 2018-05-01 10:55:15 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-05-01 10:55:15 [post_content] => DaDaFest Leaflet published by DaDaFest. This audio description has been compiled by Trish Wheatley in February 2018. It was commissioned by Disability Arts Online on behalf of NDACA (the National Disability Arts Collection and Archive). It is approximately 7 minutes 20 seconds long. The DaDaFest leaflet is a 24-page stapled A5 promotional document printed on matte paper. It contains a history of the festival, plus a roundup of DaDaFest’s activity in 2012. The front cover shows a photograph of Claire Cunningham performing at DaDaFest International 2008. Cunningham is a performer and creator of multi-disciplinary performance who makes work that explores the use or misuse of crutches. The photograph shows a sparse grey stage, fading to a black background. Cunningham who is in her 20s is captured mid-performance on bare tiptoes, leaning forward against the crutches that are buckled around the top of her arms and positioned in front of her to create four points of contact with the ground, balancing her. Her arms stretch out behind her with fingers spread. Cunningham is dressed in short black shorts and black wide-strapped vest top. She looks out just beyond the camera with a quizzical expression, frowning, but with eyes wide open and mouth slightly open. Her short pale blonde hair is swept to the left across her forehead, framing her face. She is lit from the right by strong off-white stage lighting, with a soft magenta and blue glow coming from the left. The DaDaFest logo and website address sit on a bright blue rectangle, overlaying the photograph. It is hiding Cunningham’s lower leg and crutch on the right hand side of the leaflet front cover. The DaDaFest logo features the name of the organisation in white writing on a black rectangle with black lightning strike zigzagging down just off centre. Inside, although not visible in this image, the leaflet contains sections including: an Introduction from Jane Cordell, About DaDaFest, Young DaDa, Research Networks, Festival Timeline, Our Audience, Support Us and Partners. The leaflet tells us that DaDaFest is “an innovative disability arts organisation based in Liverpool, working throughout the North West, the UK and internationally”. Originally formed in 1984 as Arts Integrated Merseyside, then becoming the North West Disability Arts Forum in 1990, it was one of the first arts organisation controlled by disabled people that campaigned for equality and access for disabled people in the arts. The festival was established to platform disabled artists and support them  becoming heard and included in the wider arts sector. The first event was held in 2001 and repeated annually until 2010 when it switched to the biennial format, largely for practical reasons to enable the organisation to fundraise and develop its most ambitious programme in 2012. This year saw the culmination of the Cultural Olympiad, a four-year programme of arts and cultural activity leading up to, and during, the London Olympic and Paralympic Games. It was a hugely significant year for the arts, with many festivals, and one-off events celebrating the quality and breadth of the UK’s artistic output and international collaboration. DaDaFest was no exception, putting on an ambitious programme of visual and performing arts. The festival included a visual arts exhibition called Niet Normaal: Difference on Display at the Bluecoat in Liverpool from Friday 13 July to Sunday 2 September. This exhibition was originally curated by Ine Gevers at the Beurs van Berlage, Amsterdam in 2010 and was adapted by Gevers and Garry Robson for DaDaFest. The exhibition focused on a “definitive question of our time: what is normal and who decides?” DaDaFest International 2012 featured 160 artists from 17 different countries including a performance at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall by internationally renowned percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie. It also included a wide programme of talks, events and workshops, engaging with almost 105,000 people across venues in Liverpool. Although Claire Cunningham didn’t perform at the 2012 DaDaFest, the story of her involvement with DaDaFest is an excellent example of DaDaFest achieving its mission. At the 2016 DaDaFest Congress Claire spoke passionately about how DaDaFest changed her life as a performer, which ultimately led to her international career. Colin Hambrook recalls the keynote speech in Disability Arts Online saying that:
“like many artists her journey to embracing disability arts happened over a period of time. New to the social model and new to the language of disability arts, she responded negatively to descriptive terms like ‘crip-culture’. She was clear that she didn’t want to make work that reinforced ableist attitudes, but equally felt that making work with the political intention of challenging attitudes would fail. Her priority was to be ‘normal’ rather than be a disabled artist, until she realised that ableism taught her to love bubblegum-pop trio Bros – and for that, if for nothing else, the constraints of popular culture deserves to be eradicated. But joking aside, the discomfort younger disabled people face at embracing crip-culture is harder to bear in this time when a dramatic change in the political climate is influencing the way society is thinking.”
The leaflet reinforces DaDaFest’s approach to breaking down barriers and the belief in the power of art to create positive change stating that “DaDaFest believes in bringing about real change in societies’ views and behaviour towards disabled people. We listen to our stakeholders, learn from our experience and use this knowledge to be advocates for change.” This audio description was compiled using the following sources: DaDaFest Leaflet DaDaFest website DaDaFest wikipedia page Claire Cunningham website Disability Arts Online It was commissioned as part of a series of 1000-word essays to mark the launch of NDACA, funded by Heritage Lottery Fund, Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Arts Council England. [post_title] => DaDaFest Leaflet [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => dadafest-leaflet [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-06-20 14:00:16 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-06-20 14:00:16 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 48 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => page [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [14] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 284 [post_author] => 5 [post_date] => 2018-05-01 10:45:28 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-05-01 10:45:28 [post_content] => This audio description has been compiled by Colin Hambrook in December 2017. It was commissioned by Disability Arts Online on behalf of NDACA (the National Disability Arts Collection and Archive). It is approximately 7 minutes 50 seconds long. This is a cartoon penned in 2014 by the disability rights cartoonist Dave Lupton aka Crippen. The cartoon depicts in flat planes of vivid colour, a grey gravestone with the letters RIP and a wheelchair-user symbol set above a newly laid grave with a posy of flowers. The brown grave is set on a background of green grass and shrubs against a clear blue sky. A man with blonde hair, wearing a red jacket is holding up a large notice, which has the words ‘Exhumation Order’ written on it. He’s showing it to a gravedigger who wears a flat cap and blue overalls and holds a shovel. Both men stare at each other with quizzical expressions. A third man stands behind them, an official who wears a grey suit and tie and carries a suitcase with the word ‘ATOS’ written on it. The official points at the grave, whilst declaring “Dig him up! He missed his appointment for a work capability assessment!” the letters written in bold black sans serif font within a white speech bubble. In the left corner the copyright for the cartoon is assigned to and the cartoonist's signature, ‘Crippen’ written in black bubble writing with a white surround, sits in the right hand corner of the artwork. The cartoon uses Crippen’s trademark style of a black-outline drawing technique, which has been digitally created and filled in with flat, bright colours. Lupton draws the basic cartoon using a black fine-line pen on white 100gsm paper. He then scans the drawing and opens the image in which allows him to correct any mistakes, add speech bubbles and text, and fill-in with colour from his personalised palette. He can also cut and paste from his extensive library of cartoon characters, blending them into new work. Lupton has been a disabled activist since the early 1990s working for the most part on the political edge of Disability issues and rights, identifying the barriers that exist for disabled people within society, whilst focusing on the humour and the absurdity of many situations through his cartoons. ‘Dig him up’ is just one of the many cartoons that Crippen has created to address the heartless attitude of private sector organisations like ATOS, who were commissioned by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to assess disabled people for benefit payments. Described by Disabled People Against the Cuts (DPAC) as “a crude health test designed to strip disabled people of benefits by declaring them ‘fit for work’”, The Work Capability Assessment (WCA) is the test designed and formally introduced by the DWP in 2008. The core testing process was outsourced to ATOS - a European IT services corporation, tasked with the job of carrying out face-to-face interviews and then reporting on their assessment to the DWP. A civil servant uses this report, plus any other relevant information they have to hand, to decide on entitlement to Employment and Support Allowance or to an enhanced rate of Universal Credit, and on whether a successful claimant will be required to take part in "work-related activity". Protests by the Disabled Peoples’ Movement outside ATOS assessment centres grew more prolific after figures released by the DWP in 2012 revealed that 10,600 people died during or within six weeks of being put through the ATOS Work Capability Assessment between January and November 2011. Lupton was at an ATOS demo held in Brighton on 19th February 2014 where the idea of the cartoon took root after being told a story about a fellow disabled person who had said: “they’ll be digging me up to get to their assessment”. The individual had been waiting for ATOS to organise a review of his Work Capability Assessment and had been living without state benefits for several weeks after having been declared fit for work. These words mirrored reality, as the man died before a review of his Work Capability Assessment could take place. Interviewed by BBC South Today who were covering the Brighton demo, Lupton told their reporter: "One of the many flaws that exists with the ATOS assessment process is that even when disabled people successfully challenge the ATOS decision and get their benefits reinstated, ATOS are still paid for the initial assessment, incurring no penalty whatsoever. Indeed, according to a whistle blowing ex ATOS officer, they are paid a bonus for having reached a predetermined 'fail' total" Caroline Lucas MP was also at the Brighton demo, gathering first-hand evidence from protesters regarding the treatment they had received from ATOS assessors. She was later televised challenging Iain Duncan Smith in the House of Commons with regard to the whole corrupt process. As a result of growing protests from the Disabled People’s Movement at the numbers of disabled people dying, the ATOS contract for Work Capability Assessments was revoked by the UK government in 2015. In March 2015 Maximus - an American company that provides business process services to government health and employment service agencies took over the contract. Lupton’s use of drawing to challenge oppressive situations dates back to experiences in his early childhood and re-emerged in adult life, when ‘Crippen’ the cartoonist came into being:
“30 years ago, I was involved in an accident – a reckless driver wiped out my car and I was hospitalised. It was suddenly a new world for me. I used a wheelchair for quite a while. People would immediately give me the ‘disabled person’ label. I felt very frustrated. I fell back into cartooning to explain what I felt about the way I was being treated.”
Lupton's work has included commissions from the BBC and Channel 4, many Disability focused film and television companies, magazines and newspapers, and several leading mainstream newspaper publications, including the Guardian and the Yorkshire Evening Post. He has also produced work for the Disability Rights Commission, the Labour Party, The Green Party, The Disability Trades Union Alliance (TUDA), and the House of Lords. His work supports such groups as ‘Not Dead Yet!’, an anti-euthanasia group of disabled people in the UK, also the anti-cuts campaigning group Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) of which he is a founder member. This audio description was compiled using the following sources: Disability Arts Online, and in communication with the artist. It was commissioned as part of a series of 1000-word essays to mark the launch of NDACA, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Arts Council England. [post_title] => ‘Dig Him Up’ cartoon by Crippen (real name Dave Lupton) [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => dig-him-up-cartoon-by-crippen-real-name-dave-lupton [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-10-14 09:09:37 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-10-14 09:09:37 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 48 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => page [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) )