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Richard Downes - disability arts online
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I once wrote for life now I write in life. I'm looking forward to developing a blog presence with personality for DAO whilst delivering comment, reviews, photos and views on disability and how it's represented.

Disability Arts Qualification Anyone?

2 January 2013

Blog

There is an idea that disability arts is being swallowed up and not being given the opportunity to prosper as disabled artists move towards inclusion in the main stream. One possible solution to this would be to develop a disability arts qualification (which of itself rings of mainstreaming). But i beleive it is an idea that is worthy of consideration especially as Dolly Sen puts disability arts and disability theory onto the agenda whilst discussing the importance of DAO. A problem with...

Comments: 2

Reason To Believe

22 January 2013

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It is 2013. Happy new year. Back in the old year I reported much on the Karamel Music Club – a favourite haunt. Free music, cheap food, good company, accessible premises. Well in this age of austerity, the collective’s masterful leader, Chris Sheehan, has only gone and opened another club night ‘The Northern Embassy’, dedicated to northern songwriters in the heart of Soho, which access aside retains much the same endearing qualities. And so it was, on a cold, wintry,...

Comments: 3

Beware Words Written Here

24 January 2013

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Words are mine. I use them. Here in the willy nilly. Spontaneous and free. Careless. Far from frank but mostly honest. Committed to an idea of truth - what ever that might mean. As someone important said its only what you see, how you see it, not how it is. Not how someone else might view it. That will serve as an introduction. Now, two adventures to relay. Wouln't it be great if critics could be embedded into festivals. That's Colin's idea. I think there's some merit in it. I spent hours...

Comments: 0

Mike Gripe

25 January 2013

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Don'cha just hate it when you go to one of these disability arts panels or disabled activists meetings and they just won't use the mike or the megaphone. You'd think they have something to say but don't want to be heard. Went to such an event yesterday. Tiny room, packed with bodies that increasingly shuffled and shifted as they couldn't hear nor barely see due to overcrowding and it took four speakers before one of them had the grace to use the mike. I know.... I should have spoken up. Given...

Comments: 1

More About Writing

28 February 2013

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I’m desperate to find my way into the new blog set up of DAO but can’t find my login. This will give me time to think, to consider what it is that I might have to say. For in truth there is nothing there that’s long enough to be a blog entry and one day the login key may appear and I will still be left vacant, with nothing left to say. I am aware of a theme that has been building, found in the simple, long term rush of writing. I have learned something old afresh. It is not...

Comments: 0

Finding My Words Everywhere

21 February 2013

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Just the other day I was doing some browsing on the net, looking for a disabled artist someone else had told me about. I didn’t have her name. I had some connections, some concepts, some sites to visit. I was on one of the latter, just scrolling as the sun came through the window of the carriage I travelled in, when suddenly there I was looking back at me. A mirror, reflecting my lovely visage. I was shocked. Horrified. It was like I’d caught an eel at the riverbank. A whole review stolen;...

Comments: 0

The Art Of The ILF Campaign

6 March 2013

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I have spent many a minute this afternoon listening to the wit and wisdom of Sophie Partridge, Kevin Caulfield and Gabriel and Penny Pepper – all of whom appear on you tube videos (find all four videos here) in defence of the soon to be closed Independent Living Fund. Each video touches on principles of independent living that became very important to me growing up as a disabled activist, ie. Ideas around choice, control, independence and empowerment wherein we become contributors,...

Comments: 2

Sleep - A Thought Provoked by Liz Crow Continuing Bedding Out

10 March 2013

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When I used to practice writing with a passion, strong and heavy into the night I would wake up with sentences being formed in front of my eyes rather than dream in sound or in vision. It still happens sometimes. It happened again recently. The words appeared. They took poetic form. I woke up and they were gone. I let them run away, escape me. Then that Dawn Willis started a facebook page, Bedding Out Live  a promotion of a Liz Crow performance. I began to contribute and as I did...

Comments: 1

Punch Psalm

17 March 2013

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Had a very confusing day today. Wrote a lot about my journey to nowhere. Will edit it and maybe poetise the prose more. In the meantime here's something that may happened or something that may not have happened. Certainly parts of it did. Punch Psalm Wet Sunday Afternoon Church closed Doors Locked Bars open In the eternal Blue Light Cops Speed to hospital Scene of conflict Between Drunks And Demonstrators Who both want It open Forever In Service...

Comments: 0

Stimulants

17 March 2013

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Today I’m going to see Dolly Sen’s film, a part of 'Wonder; Art and Science on the Brain'. I’m hoping to see friends there. I feel good but not all that good. I travel and write a travelogue of the present that takes me to the past en route to a future better than this, better than my changing mood. Stimulants Making it not making it in a mood travelogue wet with rain Always outside of the inside or on the inside looking out Car wipers grate scratch like chalk on the...

Comments: 2

Guess Where. Riddle Me Riddle Me

1 May 2013

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The Farmer and The Shepherd

I'm giving serious consideration to applying for a job.

See if you can guess where:

 

"Deviant sibilants hiss into my ear

calling to the core of a paradise

where I never believed fairy stories

nor in a planet cultivated full of Cains".

Comments: 1

A favourite some what cruel joke

2 May 2013

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I wouldn't normally tell jokes on my blog here but i wrote this one and its a favourite that's pulled out from appropriate time time to appropriate time - like only this morning someone was telling me what they had to eat last night which was very opportune as my reply quickly came: Linda McCartney Pies. I'd have thought they'd have gone off by now I am a proud vegetarian myself but i don't wallow in its promotion and i do believe in convenience so if you ever do invite me...

Comments: 0

DPAC meet the Mother's Union

14 June 2013

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A funny thing happened the day we rested 20 or so disabled activists camped in Deans Yard, Westminster, to hear statements about the abolition of the Independent Living Fund (ILF) on the occasion of its 25th birthday. Then we made our way to the Department of Work and Pensions to sing Happy Birthday to the ILF, chant 'Free Our People', share cake and watch socialist magician, Ian Saville, make the letters ILF disappear in front of our very eyes. According to Ian, I is for Independence...

Comments: 0

Chatting to a WH Smith Chugger

4 November 2013

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photo shows a burning of Pudsey bear on a previous burn Pudsey Friday - an event you can do in your own garden at home.

Pulled into Oxford Services last night on my way home from me mother's. Through the second set of automatic doors stood a chugger, clanging a red bucket for Pudsey. I blanked them to the extent that their size, race and gender became a blue. I had no idea who they were. Entering the loo I was invited to spend a penny for pudsey. I could see that others had. Pennies piled brownly in a thick perspex casing. I am always tempted to break it, vandalise the promo poster, run off with the...

Comments: 1

A Lesson Learned

11 November 2015

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Fans of this particular blog-o-sphere - and there are thousands - will know I spend quite some time bashing the tragegy model as often as I am able to. Someone has to do it. ANd here's another opportunity. I never watch children in need. I prefer to attend Burn Pudsey Friday. But there's no avoiding this really is there. A creature of habit my tele viewing usually goes from the news to the local news to the awful one show and the one show represents one of the pudsey peddlars....

Comments: 2

She Never Looked Sicker

20 December 2013

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I've just caught up with Katherine Arianiello's latest blog on DAO, Wot a laff, It surely can't be the first time a committed disability artist has played with identity by assuming the role of a normal person with the disadvantages that brings, Indeed, how many of us have done this on a daily basis - myself included. Mainstreaming. Being the supercrip. Letting normal society put on us with their interminable list of aches and pains and other uninspired melodramas, Oh! the boredom of...

Comments: 1

Hurray for the Festivities

7 January 2014

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"You are too single minded about this disability stuff. You have a life outside of it. You need to leave it at work and appreciate all those other things that you have". This is a criticism I have to put up with from time to time. There is some truth in it. But, i'm not so bad as people make out. I can put my work away. I can distinguish between my work and my life. I see where they meet, interact, and where I can find peaceful seclusion. Its also an interesting question because...

Comments: 1

THE LgbtEAST WE CAN DO

8 February 2014

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When I'm not blogging for DAO, which happens to be most of the time, I have a day job. Get this. Engagement and Development Worker for Merton Centre for Independent Living (MCIL). One of my responsibilities is to engage with the wider community and in particular with hard to reach groups. The LGBT community is not one that I am charged with finding,meeting and relating with but MCIL know that i'm putting my feelers out. In some ways this young, hungry organisation was ahead of...

Comments: 0

Black Out Hate

8 March 2014

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I have a photo to go with this blog and i will put it up one day. Its simply a sign reading Black Out. It promotes a drapery company, specialising in what must be very effective blinds. I took it one day when walking away from a public meeting. I understand how close it is to reading blacks out and as uncomfortable as that reading is it seems to sum up much of the tone of the meeting. And yet... this was a public meeting about public transport and in particular buses. The room seemed...

Comments: 0

On Entering the Save the ILF Postcard Campaign Photo Gallery

10 May 2014

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I have barely taken to the streets to Save The ILF. I’ve done a little but maybe not enough. It’s not apathy. I always had something else to do.  I campaigned for independent living before I even knew a fund that supports independent living was at risk. I chanted Free Our People with the best of them. It was more a case of redirecting my energies. I advocated for direct payments. I found employment with Merton Centre for Independent Living. I was committed but further away from...

Comments: 6

I think of you often. The way you were that day we spent together down by the sea

23 May 2014

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I think of this picture often. It has entered my personal mythology. I turned it into a story.but looking at it now I can see that I tell the story wrongly. In my mind I see a toilet entrance and three signs. One saying gentlemen this way, ladies that and disabled people yet another. I think my story tells it better. I am narrating a tale of language and exclusion. Segregation. 'No whites, no cats, no english'. The ridiculousness of it all. But a Nat King Cole Documentary is being shown...

Comments: 6

To Dan, An open letter of love

25 May 2014

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Dear Dan I'm home now, sorting through some old photos. I come across several from the time i knew you. I loved you for the good and bad things that you were to me. I adored the conceit of spelling your name in capitals and the statements that you said it made about you. You said you were Direct, that you took Action and that you Network. You could have been any old DAN but you weren't. You said you were the Disabled People's DAN and they were  like you. They were direct,...

Comments: 2

Blah Blah Blah

18 June 2014

Blog

a man appears out of the words blah blah blah which are written lots of times in different black and white shadings. I love the smile on the man's face.

This blog first appeared today on Merton Centre for Independent Living's Inclusion Blog where I explore issues around engagement and reveal what our members are saying and getting involved in. It can be found here:  But it felt too good and arty to just stay there so her it is. We do this. We do that. We sell the brand. The blind man sat and got pounced on by the organisational evangelists with their we do this, we do that, we sell the brand mantras. We sing. We jump. We swim. The...

Comments: 0

He Was - I Was

1 July 2014

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Saturday Night, Peter's Bistro in Devizes and an unlikely meeting across tables forming a friendship. I retained these details in my head as it seemed to say something about engagement (my current area of work at Merton Centre for Independent Living). I didn't realise it would take this form. Neither did i realise i would be experiencing this on the day the Battle of Westminster raged. He Was - I Was He was a Royal Marine, fought in the Falklands I was into peace and love, didn’t...

Comments: 1

Picture from a Not Dead Yet Movement

21 July 2014

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Way back in time  a fellow named Lord Joffe tried to get the Assisted Dying Bill through parliament. The Disabled People's Direct Action Network (DAN) mobilised and put on a show which the majority of the Lords supported. I remember taking a shot of an activist from Birmingham (Paul? if memory serves). He was holding a placard reading 'Lords of Death'. I looked for it. It felt apposite. Timely and with shades of Doctor Who. A science fiction skit perhaps wherein the elderly,...

Comments: 1