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'People Like You' - the exhibition coming to Salisbury Arts Centre in March.

Creatives in Con.Text, the work from which the idea for this exhibition exhibition evolved, is awaiting further conversation with a printer, Sue Austin and Liz Crow are finessing 'Creating the Spectacle!' (film) and 'Bedding Out' respectively; 'People Like You' is coming together.

It's time to think about design; the positioning of the artwork in the space so that the whole will say more than the sum of its parts.

The five soft-sculpture figures jostle, in my head, for the most effective way to relate to each other and to the architecture on offer. Two of them are pretty much decided.

Kouros and Koure are staying together on a mission:

It is totally instinctive
the small in-breath and holding it.
The body angle, response to
spatial awareness, shoulders just
so and heartbeat nudging increase.

Without eye contact, conscious yet
unconscious; focused on other
for the instant of pushing through.

The two naked bodies framing

access demand brief encounter;
fleeting engagement with naked
vulnerability. Brushing
exposed skin, breaching personal
space, hinting towards Imponderabilia
an artwork that demands your
awareness, communicating
on a physical level not
accessible to anyone
clothed in a metal framework;
people whose personal space boundaries
have no finer sensation.

Kouros and Koure stand before steps, their own naked fragility holding traces of each passing encounter. They stand wide enough apart to accommodate any wheelchair, yet they stand before steps. Kouros and Koure offer you space to consider access: public, personal, intimate,

And they challenge you to consider the weighty negativity of being continually offered so much more personal space than courtesy, or naked skin, demands.

'People Like You' Salisbury Arts Centre
8th March - 14th April 2013

 

Posted by Gini, 23 February 2013

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 27 February 2013

Fons: naming the new soft sculpture and wondering what life is all about...

Fons?

Fons Memorabilium  Universi: source of notable information about the universe, a Renaissance encyclopaedia.

 

Fons: an alternative spelling of Fontus, a Roman water deity.

 

Fons: a spring, a fountain and, by extension, the source of something.

 

Fons: the bottom (lowest part).

 

Watching water rushing into my driveway, but cosy indoors - sheltering from the rain, I persevere with the soft sculpture. Kosta, awaiting a metal pin in his skull,  looks down his nose at me while I construct another head.

 

From initial drawings, influenced the weather outside and my preoccupation with the state of the universe, I contemplate calling the third man Fons; a name to live up to. I'm not sure yet that I can construct him as drawn, but the challenge intrigues me. Fons will have 'diversed'  far from his origins, there is no way he can be one of the Kouroi, yet the building materials that are his DNA are identical.

 

How are the Con.Text conversations having an influence the third man's construction? Working with the texts, teasing out the images that connect and contrast, I reflect on the compromises we are all making in order, not just to be, but to be more.

And on the pressures to be more; live more - a better kind of more - a better kind of life.

Kouroi, carved from a single block of stone, rely heavily on The Pose to create the impression of movement, the impression of life. Today of course we rely on social networking to create the impression, not necessarily of life, but of having a life. A more impressive life.

Aspirational life.

 

Fons balances on the knife-edge referencing both research into the past, the desire for roots and historical justification, and reaching into a future time or space; or anywhere but now. A visible emotional interpretation of part of the evolutionary journey that sees us reaching out, clueless, rather like that spaceship travelling into eternity with it's already dated image of who we think we are.

The unknowing reaching into the unknown.

 

 

Where are we going, where do we come from?

Is there time to raise your head; is life too

complex to risk changing focus, or taking the pressure off long enough

to realise the aimless, addictive loneliness that drives humanity

far from it's instincts and deepest longings?

And if we stick with this journey is there any chance

that one day our descendants will arrive somewhere they name Utopia?

Or, proclaiming uniqueness,  demanding individual recognition

and rights, are we giving ourselves up for some unwanted end-game

that sees us all falling, dead-ends, by the wayside?

With so many wasted opportunities, so many wasted lives? 

 

 

 

Posted by Gini, 16 December 2012

Last modified by Gini, 16 December 2012

Salisbury Arts Centre Open 2012

The exhibition 2012 Open: Designs for a future is on from 31st October - 16th December at Salisbury Arts Centre - Free

On Tuesday, curious to see the selectors choice of Sustainable Design, I attended the busy Preview of Salisbury Arts Centre's Open 2012 exhibition.

First impressions were pleasing on the eye, I fell in love with a recycled book floor; an elegant glass, metal and wood table, and the little group of pots bathed in changing projected images.

The expected repurposing of salvaged resources was accompanied by the considered use of quality design, materials and technology. I had some practical questions about functionality, but there was nothing to get me really thinking, until I discovered the psychometers...

Like many of the pieces on show they are finely crafted, but more than most, they are beautiful. And they are thought provoking. First, how did they get there, why were they selected and what do they have to say about sustainability?

Psychometers are a nonsense, like phrenology and other dead-end pseudo-medical diagnostic tools or practices.

These pieces, created by James Morton Evans, using working barometer mechanisms, are deliberately provocative; an invitation to consider perceptions of mental health issues, the position of psychiatry in the sciences, our drive to utilise new technologies in healthcare and also to look at how we might see sustainable well-being in the future.

As it says on his website, James is a 'UK-based designer who draws upon the language of organic morphology to make exquisite, timeless furniture which is as much sculptural as it is functional'; the psychometers are not typical examples of his work, but by presenting them here at this exhibition James prompts some much needed thinking on wider concepts of sustainability.

Posted by Gini, 3 November 2012

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 4 November 2012

Origin and Insertion.

Having trouble with the precise positioning of Kosta's pecs, I decided to try Google. Before beginning on the life-size figures I did do a lot of research, which included borrowing medical tomes and studying anatomy on-line. However I never actually Googled a specific body part, and here at my first attempt found apparently exactly what I needed: Origin and Insertion, including details of the specific ribs these muscles are attached to and how they are attached.

This is particularly appropriate as I'm trying out a new way of putting the figures together, with all the defining muscles now underneath one skin layer. The problem of insertion was foxing me and resulting in Kosta's pectoralis major looking unnaturally high on his chest. Well, we weren't quite talking about the same thing, but I did actually find the Wikipedia article very helpful, and so did Kosta.

 

I'm having to work hard to stay focused on the sculptures because the Con.Text conversations are beginning to form themselves into text which is demanding visual interpretation. This, though very labour intensive, is fun and quite addictive, whereas the soft sculptures are physically painful to produce, but something I really need to do.

And then of course there is all the arts admin stuff, life, love, house'n home to keep balanced. These have to be glory days.

 

Out here, on the very fine edge

where pain, exhaustion, depression, are

held in precarious balance, I

risk being totally destabilised

by the ignorance of the witch-hunt

determined to demonise my need;

to expose a criminal cheat in the

monumental effort I make to

present myself as equal,

intelligent, creative,

attractive and

human.

 

 

 

Posted by Gini, 28 October 2012

Last modified by Gini, 28 October 2012

Naming the new soft sculpture.

Kosta.

The 'new man' will be Kosta; not from coffee Costa, but from costa, the botanical noun for rib. Kosta, deriving from Kouros like Eve from Adam's rib, is in essence a clone.

Physically, he should still be recognisable as having the same basic body shape and measurements as Kouros; maybe it is possible that he could still be classed as one of the Kouroi, but he will lack the classic pose.

Kouros, referencing Venus the classic beauty, has no arms. Kosta also has no legs.

 

Like Kouros, Koure has no arms. Nothing at her shoulders, just the frayed edges of her torso; arms are not definitive of Kouroi in the same way that legs are. Kouros and Koure stand in the classic pose. Without one leg to place slightly in front of the other, will Kosta need a new label?

Where will this difference, this diversity, take Kosta? The imagination that might replace limbs will not have free reign, my imagination will already have made visible the roots Kosta has grown to survive.

Where might this take you? What kinds of links will influence how the 'new man' is described?

He is only soft sculpture, but how might Kosta be classified?

 

So many people I talk to seem to feel that the Paralympic classification system, Lexi, has given them permission to be more open with their curiosity and speculation. Some of the discussion has been very blunt.

A part of my 2012 legacy that I cannot ignore...

 

 

Where does humanity end?

How many variations

do we need before we

decide to draw the line?

To offer less, expect less;

to look away instead.

How much life can be

cut away

before we embody

the notion

of disability

with a less than human

right to equality?

 

 

 

Posted by Gini, 13 September 2012

Last modified by Gini, 12 February 2013

Confronting demons.

Meet Fred. Meet George.

 

I hate them both. Totally interchangeable hatred; one left, one right, mirror twins. Totally interchangeable names.

I knew a man who hated sheep, he said that sheep have only one raison d'etre which is to die in the most inconvenient place possible. Fred and George must have been sheep in a previous life.

 

Now they are just sticks. Metal sticks with plastic cuffs and hand-shaped branches, whose sole purpose is to crash to the floor as frequently and inconveniently as possible.

They have clones littering up the place, but still just two interchangeable names.

And I hate all of them. I resent their clacking clumpiness and their ability to transform me into a four legged animal.

They are frequently laying traps to break my limbs and destroy my credibility. They wreck havoc with my appearance ruining my lines, destroying my clothes in the process and my arms with it, their cuffs leaving bruised manacle-echoes just above my elbows and holes in my knitwear.

 

Fred and George masquerade as cheeky monkeys who are here to give me their full support, but make no mistake, they are bullies; abusive 'partners' never satisfied with less than dominating our relationship.

I resent the way they use me, they are only sticks. They consume my energy, like thieves. Manipulative and demanding, everything we do is on their terms.

 

Meet Fred, Meet George. I hate them both.

I've a ticket to Claire Cunningham's performance in Saturday's Unlimited at Southbank, I feel sick with apprehension.

 

Babies and animals

move about on all fours.

The symbolic value of my crutches

is not lost on me.

Metal legs expose me

as the wounded animal

even when I meet you

at eye level. Face to face.

Posted by Gini, 7 September 2012

Last modified by Gini, 7 September 2012

More thinking, shaping, stitching...

Back in 2006 'Bare Boards and Blue Stilettos' was an uncomfortable installation immersing the audience in faulty communication and uncertain access. I began working on it in 2005, it was my first major piece of Disability Art.

Fanny the (animated) wheelchair, never made it beyond BB&BS, but Jessie...

 

Jessie seeks to be 'People Like You' - she was my first soft sculpture, born out of despair (unlike Kouros and Koure), reaching down into the depths to make her connections. When '(it might be disability, but) it's Still Life' was exhibited at Holton Lee in 2011, Jessie was intended to join Kouros and Koure, lying in the ground beyond them, her searching roots just beginning to show.

I began working on the roots, but somehow it never came together. I had moved far from Jessie's dark despair and I kept wondering if it was all too personal. Would Jessie speak to anyone else? I tried to put her back in storage, but as soon as 'People Like You' began taking shape, Jessie put herself back on the agenda.

 

Jessie began in the conflict between my personal, private identity and the face I wore in public. Jessie, unable to stand, sought an identity through symbolic roots, roots burrowing into some other state of presence.

Stitching, I am drawn to link the roots I'm now creating with mobile phones (rooted androids, superusers) and social networking. Reaching into our own darkness, roots become symbolic of the search for connectedness and symbols of that never-in-the-present state most people seem to be practicing.

 

Between posting, pinning, texting and tweeting, my thought for the day is that social networking could be the Borg and we are all being assimilated, willingly. Eagerly assuming that we are each expressing our unique individuality, are we in fact creating one monstrous identity where each one of us is just one more line of code? Or is it something else?

 

 

Lying face in the grass

arms reaching out, fingers

rooting into dark earth,

I am aware of life past;

hearts that have rotted away

from disintegrating bones;

breath that still whispers love words,

lust that still moans desire;

reaching out, seeking me, pulling

me down, calling me in.

And I am aware of

the love lifting me back

home, the seismic shift

in my life, my destiny.

 

 

 

Posted by Gini, 25 August 2012

Last modified by Gini, 25 August 2012

Evolving Jessie - the body project

Jessie is looking good. Removing her hair was quite traumatic and I pondered the bald skull a while before deciding that it needed a little remodelling.

 

On the floor, a half-stuffed torso has joined the various body parts, I need more wadding before I can go further with the sculpture; it is hungry on wadding and I ferry the stuff home frequently. Tied to the back of my powerchair it gives a bulky profile that no-one would guess is a new body in the making.

 

Rooted people grow on the pages that I am so lucky to be able to sit outside and draw. I need to make the most of every good day.

I've just taken a break to Google 'rooted' in my quest for a name for the new man, and discovered rooted androids and superusers. I need to think about that.

 

Back in 2006 when Jessie lay in mute protest on her platform bed, superusers didn't exist. I had been drawing rooted people since art school, exploring issues of belonging, connecting and self-awareness, but I still left Jessie's seeking and reaching out as something suggested rather than created in 3D. The despair that engulfed me inhibited Jessie too.

At the time, Disability Arts was new to me and while it was giving me back a voice, that voice was very small and frail, I had yet to figure out how to use it.

 

 

Disability Arts found me;

held me spellbound in revelation;

poked and prodded at my strength

until my eyes opened in focus;

until my words made no-sounds,

until my fingers drew protests.

And remade the offer that is life.

The paralysing silence

shattered, and I became

somebody again.

 

 

 

Posted by Gini, 21 August 2012

Last modified by Gini, 21 August 2012

The Creative Case for... NDACA

When it comes to fancy dress I think I make a pretty good Borg Queen. And if the conversation dries, I can always announce: 'Resistance is futile, you will be assimilated' - which brings me neatly to the question of integration and, whilst I'm stitching sculptures, my current concern: 'Will Integration kill Disability Arts?'

Are we only here for the interim between barbarian past and enlightened future?

Will the real or imagined possibility of being embraced and valued fragment any hopes of recognised cultural diversity?

When the barricades come down will we have anything left to say together?

 

But are we actually on the brink of this much hyped adventure?

And after Integration will it matter who tells our history?

Who knows? These thoughts wriggle around in my head while I stitch roots.

 

Have we given enough thought to what we actually do want? Before we get there, we need to have realistically explored the options; we need to have taken responsibility for our Culture and ensured it's visibility and accessibility.

There is no way forward without this: we should be the keepers and curators of our past, present and future. If one day we should morph into Them, we will need to do it on our terms.

Then again, it is possible that we are not actually heading for any kind of Integration at all; that some of us are just trying to hide amongst Them in an attempt to avoid persecution.

 

 

Kneel and I will knight you

for services to the

Disabled Community.

Kneel and I will rest this

edge upon your neck.

Symbol of a less enlightened

past; heavy on my frailty;

it falls to leave your head

rolling in the aisles.

 

 

.

Posted by Gini, 20 August 2012

Last modified by Gini, 20 August 2012

Commissioned conversations, another Con.Text

 I am totally looking forward to making an official start on my DAO Diverse Perspectives Commission conversations!

After sitting in residence at Salisbury Arts Centre last year and creating my first conversation/ text work they were keen to see me develop the possibilities. Initial talks with the then Director of Salisbury Arts Centre focused on a visual presention and People Like You, the exhibition, began to take shape.

I have already started on the preliminary writing, but it is important to me that words do not dominate my creativity. They leap so instantly into every situation, swamping the slow simmer that, given half a chance, will boil up into something visual, tangible and 3D.

My life-size figures are on such an evolution and for me, essential to the journey. I began creating them in 2006 and they are evolving to express the wordless things that lurk in hidden corners.

Working on them I can choose to fill the silence with music (which inevitably lures me away on parallel paths), or I can listen to the words that peep out of my subconscious to tease and chivvy me with their own need for expression. Here I mull over those persistent issues of equality, diversity and integration, I worry about the future of Disability Arts and, like a homing pigeon, the access issue is constantly returning.

 

 

Bodies take shape

under my needle:

surgical stitching

sees muscles swell and

contract, inch lower,

shift with the placement

of limbs. Limbs that form

with thoughts; ideas

prompt their creation,

ideas inform

their construction,

Ideas that by-

pass words; thoughts that

travel the careless route

to a reality

where fact and fantasy

dance together.

 

Posted by Gini, 18 August 2012

Last modified by Gini, 18 August 2012

Soft Sculpture - body project

The agapanthus in my green and white garden has never looked more stunning. A jungle of green shades and textures surrounds and inspires my outdoors working. Sun warms my bones and enables these quiet moments when pain takes second place.

Indoors my floor is strewn with body parts.

And Jessie has finally lost her hair. I have been reluctant to remove the long black dreads, but since Kouros, my soft sculpture figures have had no hair; Jessie, who is being worked on from (what were) the toes up, is now ready to go bald.

The new man (as mentioned - just a newer version of the old one, less hair, but that doesn't show) is in pieces. I get a little thrill of excitement anticipating putting him together.

In the garden I work on smaller body parts, it's important to keep them white, and in the heat that can be a challenge. Anticipating two new men, I make extra parts and they line up on the decking. The third man creates interesting questions, so soon I must grab pen and ink and start investigating his options...

 

Emerging, sunkissed

from the gentle shade

of my garden-green

umbrella, stitching

nipples for the new

man as the sun slides

into evening;

I imagine life

doesn't get too much

better than moments

like these.

 

 

 

Posted by Gini, 14 August 2012

Last modified by Gini, 14 August 2012

The body project.

The Hayward Rat (Rattus Flattus) has proved positively inspirational.

There is work queuing up to be let out of my head and there are days when this queue and clamour paralyse my choosing process.

The Hayward Rat has brought Kouros and the body project right up to the front of the queue. The body project aims to resurrect Jessie from 'Bare Boards and Blue Stilettos'.

At the time, she made dramatic impact, but I felt she needed to be a little more explicit. I was asking people to use their imaginations, but not giving them enough to work with and Jessie presented as scary, but also maybe a bit of a full stop.

Ever since '(it might be disability but) it's Still Life' presented at Holton Lee, Jessie has been nagging me. She wanted to join Kouros (the life-size soft sculpture of a nude male); he does have a female companion, and we were thinking they needed a lot more company; a group of them would provide more ammunition for imaginations to run.

So here in the sunshine, I've been working on Jessie's muslin skin and polyester muscles and the new man (who is actually just an up to date version of the old man).

 

 

Jessie is named for jesses

those seeking tendrils that

float in the jet stream of no

longer quite-wild birds of prey.

Symbols of symbiosis

like roots drawing Jessie down

to other connections, links

that thread through Jessie's heart.

Jesses, merely symbols or

darker, deeper holds on

unfathomed mystery?

 

 

 

Posted by Gini, 29 July 2012

Last modified by Gini, 29 July 2012

Earthbowl 4 - Homo Sapiens Sapiens.

This is the last in the series. The timing is deliberate - this is my contingency bowl.

In case time and tide conspired against 'Creating the Spectacle!' In case the event was cancelled; in case the worst case scenario swallowed up the adventure and the underwater wheelchair disappeared into oblivion.

But actually it also makes a rather splendid trophy to present, with a fanfare, to all the successful participants of the most carefully prepared and choreographed adventure - the journey across the Fleet.

Sue and the underwater wheelchair, the undeniable stars of the occasion, were backed up, supported, carried, by the skills, knowledge and talents of dedicated teams all totally inspired by her wild idea and persistent enthusiasm.

Like the legend of history, 'Creating the Spectacle!' had no power over the tide; yet forever undaunted, the team completed their mission and this new legend was fact for a day.

And like the red carnations that bloomed over the water and sailed out on the tide, the story will travel, the myth of the chairborne aquanaut will spread and grow as the journey continues.

Lapping relentlessly against
prejudice and preconceptions,
the tide of enthusiasm
rebrands the stereotype,
the metaphor that presents all
and every disability
as cheat or hero, scrounger or
object of pity. Introducing
Individuals, people with
real lives, real hearts, real connections
that link us all into one world;
one people. The diverse glory
of the human race, Homo Sapiens
Sapiens.

Posted by Gini, 28 June 2012

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 28 June 2012

Earthbowl 3, Fleet Lagoon

I could hardly sleep a wink last night. I might have been a little busy this week, but today has had big, bold, red pencil marks all over it for a while now. Depending on the weather, the tides, fate...Today is the day!

Today, in filming for 'Creating the Spectacle!' the underwater wheelchair takes what anyone could only describe as the absolute scariest part of it's journey.

I'm heading for Portland to be witness and part of the audience for this stage of the project. I shall be travelling with mixed feelings; I am looking forward to seeing Sue and the underwater wheelchair in the water again: that bit is positively magical.

But the underwater wheelchair cannot be confined to a pool, even one as deep as the Osprey Leisure Centre's.

Today Sue and the underwater wheelchair are going to be filmed disappearing into the sea.

 

 

A lagoon? Thats like South Seas or something?

Warm, clear water; it sounds so inviting,

not sure about the wheelchair though. Why not

just dive? The Fleet? Where's that, somewhere local?

Oh that changes everything. Bloody cold

off Portland. With bad tides round Chesil Beach,

plus that lurky, murky, muddy sea-bed...

I dunno why, but somehow the wheelchair

makes some kind of crazy sense; now I know.

Fleet Lagoon: that really is so awesome.

 

 

 

 

Posted by Gini, 27 June 2012

Last modified by Gini, 27 June 2012

Earthbowl 2; hinting at things to come?

The eagle eyed DAO reader just might have noticed that the image used (yesterday) in Earthbowl 1 was not actually from 'Creating the Spectacle!'

'Portal' (2008), that iconic picture of Sue Austin under water in a wheelchair, was however our first hint of things to come - watch this space!

The Earthbowl series continues with an image from the early development stages of the project when the chair was still being refined and Sue was still learning how to control it.

Earthbowl 2 contains an image from the clinical waters of a diving pool where Sue, almost unrecognisable without that signature dress (but check out the hair), wears the full diving gear - necessary for any time spent performing in colder waters.

The finned wheelchair, well rehearsed in chlorinated diving, had not at this point had much opportunity to expand it's horizons; but after it's first globetrotting adventure, LinkUpArts was thrilled to be able to invite people to Sue's presentation (at Salisbury Arts Centre earlier in the month) documenting 'Creating the Spectacle!' to date and featuring The Underwater Wheelchair.

 

 

On stage, as it were,

facing a live audience,

the chair acquires gravitas;

a quiet dignity

it does not possess poolside.

It also radiates

solemnity in this

alien environment,

at odds with it's adventurous

appearance underwater.

Striped of it's blanket disguise

it waits patiently while it's

conception, evolution

and progression unfolds;

It's historical journeys

roll out over the big screen

behind, until the moment

we, the audience, are free

to surround and admire;

to touch and covet the

underwater wheelchair.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Gini, 26 June 2012

Last modified by Gini, 26 June 2012

Relay

Exhibition,

21 June - 14 July 2012, Salisbury Arts Centre.

 

 

Relay: handing the baton of inspiration through time and across disciplines, has produced this exhibition at Salisbury Arts Centre.

I should, at the outset, declare my involvement, both as an artist and wordsmith and also as member of LUAN (LinkUpArtists Network) whose work, together with images from LUAN member Sue Austin's 'Creating the Spectacle!' represents LinkUpArts' presence as one of Salisbury Arts Centre's Creative Partners.

Like previous exhibitions showcasing work produced by the artist-tutors and their workshop participants, this one, extending to resident artists, groups, creative partners and resident companies, is buzzing with energy and talent.

Resident potter, Mirka Golden-Hann, exhibits Choreographed Vessel, a plain and elegant porcelain bowl on which moving images of dancers are projected - a work bringing to life the ancient Greek concept of Kalokagethia (harmony of physical and spiritual endeavour), through the talents of filmmakers, dancers and of course Mirka herself.

Anthony Aston, currently the Arts Centre's Technical Manager, has been experimenting with mapping projections to three diminutional surfaces and a resulting digital piece involving the resident youth dance company, Jigsaw, and a regular life drawing group, is most effectively exhibited on the Altar Stage wall.

These two pieces popped out at me at the preview, but there is so much more to see and I'm looking forward to revisiting Relay. The Totem Poles and various smaller intricate pieces need more time, as do the Kingfisher Poets, and there is also the intriguing live performance of the dissolving clay city on Saturday 14th July at 11.00

 

 

We read your poem and we cried.

My words adorn, caress the clay;

the tiny figure perched atop

the totem pole is helter-skelter

me with buttercup dust still gold

on my toes. Who would be thinking

the lover who opened my eyes and

brought me back to life, would yet be

muse; his inspiration handed,

artist to artist, maker to

maker; enduring pregnation,

perpetual, powerful. Who

would have dreamed this muse would

have so much life in him.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Gini, 25 June 2012

Last modified by Gini, 25 June 2012

Proof of Existence

I traveled part of the way to Hakone under a poster with an image in grey, of cracks in a pavement - Proof of Existence. The Hakone area seems stuffed with museums and galleries that will tempt me back; this poster was for Shinji Omaki's Proof of Existence.

 

Passing the Hakone Open-Air Museum I saw evidence of artworks that will need to be explored. Plentiful signs and posters pointed to other inviting destinations; Hakone brought itself to my attention and certainly has something to live up to, next time I come.

 

Standing in front of the naked musician blowing an oversized horn, I presumed it was an homage to the real life naked trumpeter.

This one was small - less than hobbit-sized and on loan from, yes, somewhere in Hakone. A bronze statue in the Marunouchi Street Gallery in Tokyo, he was modestly shaded by a tree, small in every detail (bar the musical instrument), and looking very comfortable with his nudity.

 

If I am frequenting all the wrong places to find disability culture, it is not just the lure of the 'mainstream' famous arts, it is also their accessibility and plentiful abundance. I continue to question the existence of disability culture yet daily hope to find it hidden in plain sight. Invisible only because of a culture chasm.

 

Yet is a society without the need for disability culture good or bad? Is this taking integration too far? Does it free up disabled people or oppress them?

 

This experiment of trying to find Disability Arts and artists 'from the ground up' needs some control data to line up against. Maybe I need to visit London as a foreigner and see how far I get.

 

Those universal sounds, uttered by

deaf people signing, alert me. Here

on the train I travel, wheels on wheels

back to the crowd, quietly watching

window reflection, unobserved.

Instant curiosity lifts heads

momentarily; and flashed tension

comes, goes, never was. I get the

outrageous idea of a culture

where disability just isn't

a concept; a culture where people

are just and gloriously people.

 

 

Posted by Gini, 6 June 2012

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 10 June 2012

Chopstick impressions, access and flying solo.

Semi abstract picture of a woman drawn with Chinese ink and pigments, in a slim wooden frame, seen with reflected city-scape in shop-window..

I've had a disagreement with a woman in an art gallery. We were discussing; I was talking about the visitors to galleries, she was talking about the exhibitors in general and the artist exhibiting there in particular.

I said that Japanese took art very seriously. She declared that he had a free and easy style and Japanese art was very varied.

We politely agreed to disagree when suddenly she realised what I was trying to say, looked discreetly around, and then totally agreed with me. We both laughed, but quite discreetly; the atmosphere was very solemn.

While Japanese people walk around galleries in a state of solemnity, once positioned in front of a piece they are not intimidated by art; everyone seems keen to deliver their personal interpretation and to express an opinion.

Not much of an exchange, yet quite a milestone for me who speaks very little Japanese. There are moments when I feel I understand other people's conversations, but dialogue is much more tricky.

I am frequently approached by strangers keen to try out their language skills and strange meanderings across a variety of European languages result in painfully protracted monologues that have no real content.

I am however left with the impression that the locals have noticed me, like the way I look and enjoy the humorous positioning of chopsticks in my hair.

The chopsticks probably say more than I do, certainly more than I am aware of, and they seem to give the impression that I am accessible.

Wandering out of my comfort zone,
finding less accessible quarters,
I discover galleries. Indeed many,
all with steps enough to keep me out.
And curbs not dropped enough
to let me pass; but then I find
a rush of angels keen 
running to open doors;
eager to be
of assistance.
Solicitous. 
And I start to ponder 
the seldom seen
disabled person
flying solo. 

 

 

Posted by Gini, 1 June 2012

Last modified by Gini, 2 June 2012

Tema Hema - Effort Time.

Today I revisited Design Sight 21_21, the design exhibition space of the Issey Miyake Foundation, created by Issey Miyake and Tadeo Ando.

Tema Hima - the Art of Living in Tohoku, was exactly that. Film and exhibited objects described the traditional ways of sourcing food and tools that are being practiced in Tohoku, site of The Great East Japan Earthquake.

Visually fascinating, informative and an advocate for the inspirational quality of this way of living holding a key to future survival, this exhibition was exquisitely curated and absorbed my attention for several hours.

The artists and craftspeople who put this exhibition together believe that the future is potentially a dangerous place, and that to be knowledgable and capable of feeding yourself and local community is one kind of utopian space.

At the National Arts Centre, now celebrating it's 5th anniversary, were two special exhibitions: Cezanne, Paris - Provence, and 400 years of European Masterpieces from the State Hermitage Museum.

There was also a massive and well visited exhibition of local artists, the amateurs, as the staff apologetically described them. There seems to be no middle ground, you are famous, international, or nobody; this seems to be one of humanity's universal directions.

But maybe in their search for what it means to be Japanese, people here have not really bought-in to this notion of what it means to be famous; maybe the apology is merely thought appropriate for a foreigner like me.

I was certainly impressed by the scale of local talent which seemed both more international and more Japanese than last year.

And this year there appeared to be a selection of wheelchairs and baby buggies available for visitors to borrow, with even the possibility of a volunteer to do the pushing.

 

 

Nobody exhibits in the

National Art Centre.

Nobody has ten

1000m2 galleries

with 5 metre

ceilings and 20

moveable panels.

Nobody has

370 metres

to share.

Kisho Kurokawa

makes good space.

 

 

 

Posted by Gini, 26 May 2012

Last modified by Gini, 5 June 2012

Semicyber

Lying in bed without my wheels, it occurs to me that I am semicyber, but being without them does not free me from their impact. And these times, out of the public gaze, have no impact on the way society views me. Cyborg or cyberbodied, in the public consciousness a chairborne entity is 'bound' to it's wheels.

Here in Japan where I have almost no Japanese, I am freed from any negative feedback regarding my wheelborne presence, by my own lack of understanding. In that way I am freer to create and express my own identity, to find my own eutopia/heterotopia.

With no way to penetrate the polite veneer of Japanese society, I have no access to the can of worms that must inevitably wriggle under its skin.

Nevertheless I retain my optimistic view of the Utopian. Japanese public, social interaction seems to function in a universal way, working for those lacking disability as well as for those with.

Is this why I'm finding it hard to find any real traces of Disability Culture here?

 

 

Over the Rainbow Bridge,

this time in the glow of

bright lights, Tokyo Tower

defying it's age, gleams

a juicy orange spike.

Tokyo Wheel, as it shrinks

into the past, colour

changes, pattern changes.

Tokyo winks and sparkles,

welcomes with no trace of

irony. The Universal

Design Museum is

closed. A power saving

measure.

 

 

 

Posted by Gini, 25 May 2012

Last modified by Gini, 25 May 2012

Greenroom Festival. 2012

Yokohama's Greenroom Festival of music, art and film (www.greenroom.jp/ ) was this year held in the historical Red Brick Warehouse, close to the futuristic Odaibashi ferry terminal:

"Never has architecture been so clearly at the forefront of the festival experience as it is at Yokohama's Greenroom Festival, the annual jazz, ska, lounge and surf-rock celebration that takes place at the Odaibashi International Ferry Terminal at Yokohama port"

(www.guardian.co.uk/music/2009/jun/09/turning-Japanese-architecture-pop)

Under blue sky, sunny but not yet too hot, this was the perfect weekend for an open air festival. Approaching the festival area we passed families sitting in clover - green spaces where patches of clover grow unchecked, and the festival atmosphere could be appreciated for free.

In fact a lot of the music could be heard, and seen, without entering paid space. Arts and craft stalls were in freespace too, and apart from the crush of people, everything except the tree-house seemed very accessible.

I saw no trace of other wheelborne festival goers, and felt sure my presence in the crush must have inconvenienced quite a few people, but they were never, publicly, other than friendly and helpful. The atmosphere was great.

The music sounded rather more international than when the Guardian reported on the Festival in 2009, but I did find some of the Japanese rock musically  difficult to access.

Early evening we headed out to Chinatown to find food some time after the easy to listen to Tokyo Number 1 Soul Set had finished playing.

 

 

Stumbled upon,

coincidentally

strangely

in keeping with

the accidental

theme of this year's

Japanese blog,

the Green

Room festival

feels like fate

joining my

search for

Utopian

spaces.

 

 

Posted by , 24 May 2012

Last modified by Gini, 24 May 2012

Creative Asia

Ok. I've been here 6 days, this is blog number 5, they all sat frustrated, unposted, on my iPad while I attempted to master the technology using unfamiliar tools.

How do I monitor the size of my images? Resize? Crop? How do I convert .png to .jpg? I guess I will have figured it when I post this, but the Greenroom blog will be out of sync with my tweet...

I may use wheels to augment my body; I may long for a cybersuit, or an avatar, so that I can run and climb and swish a skirt, I enjoy using the technology, but what can I do about my inability to think computer-think?

Yesterday I rolled out in the sun to explore Hibiya Park. The entrance is cobbled and painful to navigate and last year soggy pathways also limited my ability to move around. Access has been greatly improved. The park is bigger than I had imagined, but actually last year's accessible bits were probably the best and most traditional; with a cybersuit, I would have known that already.

The cybersuit needs more development; the Japanese guy testing it out in the French Alps will actually be carried by it's user. The guy lacking the disability will have his strength augmented. I guess we've all heard that story before.

 

 

In Marunouchi Building

point a host of decorated

figures. Onwards, upwards

they seem to say

through the eyes of

HongKong and

Japanese - crossing

partnership in

creativity. 129

pointing fingers

educating the world;

artistic expressions with

subtle undertones.

 

 

 

Posted by Gini, 22 May 2012

Last modified by Gini, 22 May 2012

Tokyo. One day

I'm back. Tokyo called and here I am. Sumida, rocking and rolling, reflects my excitement. This time the cherry blossom is over and Tokyo is greening -  punctuated by bright splashes of pink azalea; while Sumida, the river, is followed by a ribbon garden borrowed from an English country cottage.

Sky Tree stretches high into warm city air, awaiting it's grand opening on the 22nd May; it is visible for miles and miles, looking down on the 53 floors of the Mori Building  and the red dinosaur that is Tokyo Tower.

The skinny-wheeled chair greets me at Narita airport, slower than I had remembered, but every bit as versatile and enduring.

My journey here was impressively smooth. Special Assistance at Heathrow has never worked so well for me and the people never seemed so 'human'.

The plane was only half-full and I had the seat next to me for bags normally on the floor out of my reach, making the flight very civilised.

 

Hovering over quiet endurance,

Utopia beckons me onwards.

The human subconscious

dances attendance on the

persistent lure of better.

The promise of perfection

in wheels, shapes my future.

Sparkles through my hopes

for journeys into the places

that haunt my dreams.

The promise of independence

close as a heartbeat,

is within reach, isn't it?

My dream, is reasonable, isn't it?

And this Eutopia is real, isn't it?

  

Posted by , 17 May 2012

Last modified by Gini, 22 May 2012

My very own one-woman Shape Open Fringe.

I once heard Anish Kapoor say something along the lines of "my art works because I have nothing to say" which struck me as very odd.

Triptychos Boxed is a glance at the aspirations of faith and mythology from a wheelborne perspective. A collection of previously loved small boxes containing references to aspects of faith, they also focus on the 'get up and go' that, chairborne, I both long for and reject as irrelevant.

This is my first conscious attempt to make work that 'has nothing to say'. It is merely a suggestion; an emotionally charged comment tossed under the wheels in passing, totally open to any interpretation you might visit upon it.

It may not stick to your wheels (apologies to those of you without - no inequality implied), but maybe you will 'stick' something to it?

Sci-fi might be my mythology;
superheroes are never normal.
Perilous poking around
pointlessly perfect bodies
of history, convince me
to look to the future
for role-models
and life-styles
to aspire to.
Currently
I pin my hopes
on a chairborne aquanaut
to re-imagine life
as we know it,
Jim.

Posted by Gini, 4 May 2012

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 4 May 2012

Triptychos, Crow, dammit, Crow

Crow, dammit, Crow. Box 3 and the final part of Triptychos  is heart-shaped and Schiaparelli pink, except for the outside of the lid. The box, 21 cms across and 4 cms deep, has a teal coloured lid decorated with colourful peacocks adorned with hearts instead of eyes.

When you open the box you will find, not a love letter, but a Christmas card. Mary and Joseph hold each other anxiously as the baby in the wheelchair peers up at them. The angel is of course, adoring; the sheep proprietorial and the goose indifferent or just looking for the way out.
Inside the lid you will find the words: crow, dammit, crow

Looking for role models
I wasn't keen to be a sheep
or a man. I wanted the one
who couldn't take up his bed
and walk, to be the hero.
And finding the
dysfunctional cock,
I just wanted to hear it crow.

Posted by Gini, 30 April 2012

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 2 May 2012