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Surreality

Somehow my personal artwork is progressing. Putting out bits as they form had seemed such a scary prospect; I’d half expected the exposure to kill the inspiration. But now I happily remember how much I used to enjoy working to an audience as a student.

However, I spent a chunk of yesterday submerged in surreality; from Peter Eugene Ball’s driftwood sculptures to Nick Blinko’s pen and ink drawings and the strange sensation of Pallant House floating, tethered to Sir Colin Wilson’s 2006 red brick extension.

Chichester Cathedral hosts “Sacred and Secular” until 29th September: haunting driftwood figures that span cultures, faiths and worlds, flowing back and forth between death and life.

Nog’s teeth. Live
long and prosper. Way
back beyond final frontiers;
the Bell-man alerts:
warning, warning.
And please Sir!
Me Sir, me Sir.
Take me down
enfold my arms.
When the lights go out
we will all creep away.

Take the ship;
horse-manes foam under
silent Styx; nosing through, we’ll
flee the public gaze.
Warning, warning.
Take me down
enfold my arms
my empty arms;
wag my tail.
When the lights go out
we will all creep away.

See through secrets,
swelling, biting.
Stations alert.
And please Sir!
Me Sir, me Sir.
Short, sharp creeping,
stiff bones weeping.
Take me down,
enfold my arms;
when the lights go out
we will all creep away.


I easily made a link between them and the amazing pen and ink drawings just about visible in Pallant House. I was very disappointed to discover them in a darkened room and positioned in cabinets way above comfort levels from my wheelchair. In fact they were too far away and poorly lit to see any of the intricate detail. The four enlarged, laminated copies on the table were helpful when taken into the daylight, but the magnifying glasses, pressed against the glass cabinets by standing visitors, were no help at all. This exhibition finished on the 14th August. 

Pallant House itself was an accessible surprise; it’s eclectic collection of twentieth century British artwork sitting more and less comfortably in the Queen Anne building. It was Andy Goldsworthy’s etched chalk boulder resonating in the marble fireplace that drew me in and allowed Pallant House itself to offer up it’s own surreal experience.

Some things just work perfectly and appear so simple and obvious. The genius is in the inspiration.

Somewhat in the same vein, I was pondering aloud about Susie Macmurray’s mussel shells neatly stuffed with red silk velvet; commenting that this particular idea would not have occurred to me.

“That is because you are not an artist” was the ignorant pronouncement of an arrogant soul passing behind me. Surreal.

Posted by Gini, 12 August 2011

Last modified by Gini, 12 September 2011

Strange 'washing up'

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I was sitting in the grass looking at "Folly" - a Sean Henry installation/sculpture in the Close of Salisbury Cathedral. Sean Henry was there talking about his work and tiny snippets of sound caught my attention; I wrote.

And thought about Ems being waylaid by washing up. There are parallels here; responding in words to other peoples' artwork makes me feel as if I have done something worth-while and puts my frustration on hold.

Words are so brilliant. Here they are, just waiting to be found; to be teased out or invented; jostled together in endless combinations and hopefully, recorded. I enjoy making the creative response to artwork, but it doesn't usually have any connection to my own, which is why I thought about Ems and the washing up...

I stood looking this way
for four years. Facing
the bed, contemplating
his sleeping figure;
the crumpled bedclothes and
the head-shaped hollow
in the other pillow.
The process claimed me
and identified me.
I never looked
outside the frame.

Yet here everything changed.
The bed sits beyond
my peripheral
sight. I face the unknown
yet I never look
past my expectations.
My mind trapped by the
invisible mirror,
I never look
outside the frame.

The children who touch him,
who run their fingers
lightly over his hair?
He belongs to them
and the women who perch
in the gap between
pillow and grey duvet.
They take him away;
digital capture that
doesn't exist
outside the frame.

But I am working. The embryo project creeps forward inside my crip computer. I save it in a different drive and wonder if I'll ever find it again; or find the resources to break it out of virtual reality. In pixels, the grab rails are taking shape.

Perhaps I should be wondering how to make this a meaningful digital experience, but then I would need new software, new skills and a new computer. The world is endlessly exciting and, one way or another, a constant battle for access.

Posted by Colin Hambrook, 2 August 2011

Last modified by Gini, 28 September 2011