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Thinking for Myself / 24 August 2012

'When you are married your husband will tell you what you will think' Downton Abbey passed me by, but these words from a trailer did make a deep impression.

And reminded me of my introduction to Disability Arts.

As an artist waking up to a strange world, I had been silent for a number of years, and being invited to be part of the formation of LinkUpArts was a lifeline. I began reworking a series of architectural drawings through which wandered a skeleton wearing black stockings and stilettos and pushing an empty wheelchair. This was my past linking into my future; the series, begun in the 1980s when my disability was largely invisible, was called the Lovely Bones.


From very woolly beginnings I started to make tentative sense of my own 'disabled gaze' but it was not until I was invited to be part of a Disability Arts project that required all participants to undergo a rigorous programme of Disability Equality Training that I became convinced of it's validity.

We (a group of artists with various disabilities) were being lectured to about using the Social Model as opposed to the Medical Model and one of us declared that there were some aspects of the Social Model that she did not personally find helpful and some in the Medical Model that she did.


Our trainer (disabled, but no artist) paused, and into the shocked silence declared, that when she had finished training us we would all know what to think, and how to think it.

Bare Boards and Blue Stilettos was as much a reaction against the Disability Arts Movement I was being introduced to as it was about the shocking attitudes of so many of the nondisabled people in my life.



Stitching Jessie,

awakens the past

and I visit

with a new gaze;

with the confidence

of hindsight; from

a position of

someone at ease

with an evolving

body of work.




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