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Aaron Williamson's new retrospective of videos/films and sculpture installation is at Spike Island from 30 April / 14 April 2010

photo of artist in studio

Photo of Aaron Williamson in the studio. Image © Spike Island

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In addition to the new sculptural installation that I’m currently working on, Spike Island’s curator Marie-Anne McQuay is also staging a retrospective selection of my video/documentation together with films by the Disabled Avant-Garde, 15mm Films and two video works by Katherine Araniello.

These will be exhibited on a large screen projection in one of the two enormous galleries downstairs on a showreel, lasting up to 90 minutes. Trying to avoid sounding immodest, this will be a key moment for disability arts and must-see for anyone wishing to view videos and films that have been made over a 10-year period. Some haven’t been shown for quite some time.

If that isn’t enough of an inducement to visit the wonderful (and accessible) Spike Island then on the opening night I will be restaging a couple of previous performance pieces along with 15mm/DAG stalwarts Katherine Araniello, Simon Raven and Juliet Robson.

After making the Meteorite Porringer for my invented tribe of medieval beggars, ‘The Affligare’, I’ve been literally up to my elbows in tools and grease (see photo) fashioning objects using a wide range of materials but mostly ending up with only one colour – brown.

I’m sure psychologists have a word for this tic, but the medieval period, which my fictional hoard of objects is meant to be from, didn’t have fashionable ‘seasons’ of colours like we have now. . . it just all seems to have been light, medium or very dark/ burnt brown - as attested by most museum displays that represent the period.

If any readers have suggestions as to how to inject a bit of colour, glamour, glitter or even pomp into the picture then do please leave them in the comment box below. I know about gold leaf and Giotto blue, but any other suggestions are most welcome.

It’s a curious thing staying after hours in the studio to work as a sculptor. I haven’t yet taken to muttering ‘let us enter the sublime’ as the door closes behind, or removing my underwear as suggested by one reader (apparently that would bring me closer to the methods and successes of Eric Gill).

Nonetheless there is a sense of being suspended in time and space that is hypnotically enjoyable as I move around the studio from one incomplete sculpture piece to the next and back again, accidentally breaking things or cutting my fingers as the hours slip by. Is there a word for this style of artistic process? ‘Hobby-knobbling’ or some such?

I now have quite a number of curious objects/ implausible things in construction that I’m reluctant to describe here since they may or may not make it into this version of the installation coming up at Spike Island.

The museum vitrine parked in the centre of my studio is now dubbed ‘the Affligare Unit’ - the title of the installation - and it is a further uncertainty of the work’s form (with 20 days to go) to decide whether the incredibly heavy case/ unit will be moved, removed, filled to bursting with objects, left empty or perhaps painted with expensive gold leaf and Giotto blue . . .

More information about the Open Studios event and Aaron's subsequent retrospective exhibition

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