Saturday 16 June 2018

That was then...

...and this is now!

To celebrate Learning Disability Week 2018, the always superb Venture Arts 'are sharing artist Amy's colouring book illustration ‘Colour in Corrie’ a layered composition of characters, past and present, from Coronation Street, the famous ITV soap that inspires many of our artists and their creative practice everyday.’ To help raise awareness of Learning Disability Week 2018 and to tie in with Mencap’s theme ‘Health’, we are inviting you to join us to take a few mindful minutes of your day to relax and refocus and colour in Corrie.'  Amy Ellison comments: "I am so happy to be sharing my artwork with you for Learning Disability Week. Make sure you colour it in neatly! First I drew Coronation Street characters on paper then I traced it. I traced it on paper in different ways. I made patterns, heart shapes, triangles and waves to go inside." Print off your own colouring sheet by clicking on the image below.

Venture Arts support and nurture some prodigious talent, and amongst some of the artists they work with  Barry Finan and Rosanne Robertson are exhibiting their collaborative installation YES LAD YES LASS in a group exhibition curated by gallery director Zavier Ellis and artist Hugh Mendes at Charlie Smith London. The exhibition - Transcript - runs until 23 June and includes Mark Wallinger, Fiona Banner amongst a wealth of contemporary artists. The image below is courtesy of the artists.

For those of you who are interested in rich contemporary art that embraces diversity, LAND Gallery in Brooklyn offers some of the most exciting established and emerging artists, space to create and showcase their work. I've had the great opportunity of spending time with some of the artists there and hear something of the ethos of the non-profit organisations curator, Matthew Bede Murphy. For more information about LAND click on the portrait of Frank Sinatra by Carlo Daleo.

In their dance project, 'Šokio laboratorija' the Lithuanian NPO Socialiniai meno projektai worked with over 300 people in Kaunas and Klaipėda exploring dance with wide ranging groups and artists and you can watch some of their filmed pieces HERE.  Then there's DaDAA over in Western Australia who have been ploughing the furrow for years, and the superb LEVEL Centre over in Derbyshire who have been developing profound work with people with learning disabilities for over 25 years
 - I can't recommend these organisations enough. I know there are lots of projects out there, but I share these as part of Learning Disability Week, because they are all in some way, organisations I've been lucky enough to connect with, and that have stood the test of time - and who work in transformative, strident and beautiful ways. Superb.

For many years I worked as what I suppose you’d describe as a Hospital Arts Co-ordinator, but this was a long time ago, and in reality I’d gone through all manner of pay-scales and job titles ranging from a nursing assistant to a technical training instructor, but my forward thinking line manager (Bill Hockey) let me define my own position, and by and large, I have him to thank for the direction I’ve gone in over the years. Even before I was taken under his wing, I’d been involved in one of those Community Enterprise Programmes that saw me working with the psychology team undertaking adult education assessments on all the people who lived in the hospital - adults with learning disabilities. 

This was the Royal Albert Hospital in Lancaster, and at the time when I began working there in the 1980’s, there were around 800 men and women living there. It closed down in 1996 and I had the odd privilege of being there when the keys were handed over to its new owners - its residents ‘resettled’ and ‘normalised’ in line with government policy of the time. (what horrific terms - what connotations!)

So now as Learning Disability Week kicks off, I am reminded of all those people I met, and the stories I was privy too - and part of. I co-curated a number of public exhibitions in and around Lancaster when I worked at the Royal Albert Hospital and struck up collaborations with TATE Liverpool in its early days, through its Mobile Arts Programme - with Naomi H and Vinnie. With the Dukes Theatre and the amazing Theatre in Education team, we co-created a public performance with residents who were coming to terms with being ‘resettled’ - it was a wonderful collaboration with Lancaster Lit Fest.

Now I’m getting whimsical - but collaborating with these inspiring and diverse people certainly made me who I am today. 

So it was, that last week I scrabbled about in the loft and pulled out a fat portfolio of paintings and drawings from the Royal Albert Hospital, created by people all long dead, but whose names I remembered instantly when I see the work. Outsiders? Well I don’t think so - the people I knew were rightly proud of their work. Raw? Well certainly free of over-cooked art school pretensions, that’s for sure. You can see a few images from this portfolio scattered across the blog today, with a 1981 portrait of a certain doomed royal couple below!


No comments:

Post a Comment