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Cathedra 900 - disability arts online
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Mark Ware introduces Cathedra 900, a multimedia event to be staged at Exeter Cathedral / 1 May 2012

photo of a man standing looking into a camera, inside Exeter cathedral

Mark Ware on location in Exeter Cathedral. Photo by Sara Ware

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Supported by Arts Council England and Exeter Cathedral, Cathedra 900 is an enormously exciting project for me. This year the earliest part of Exeter Cathedral will be around 900 years old. Cathedra 900 will be a celebration and an artistic interpretation of the time line of the Cathedral building. 

For a detailed breakdown of what the project entails, please visit http://www.disabilityartsonline.org.uk/cathedra900

I'm fascinated by many aspects of this building and its impact over centuries. Erosion and additional construction of the building throughout the centuries have dramatically altered its personality. I'm also drawn to the idea of the Cathedral being an 'observer', looking down on the people and the surrounding landscapes below since 1112.  

Following my stroke during 1996 all of my artwork has been related to various forms of disability in some way. In my case stroke badly affected both my physical and cognitive abilities. And so, I‘m now multi-disabled. Although I don’t welcome my disability, I value the impact it has had on my art and the insight it offers me into other conditions. I perceive the world in a different way because of my disability, therefore it’s inevitable that my artwork reflects that fact.
Cathedra 900 is a tremendous challenge, but also an incredible opportunity to work on art that will be steered in a way largely of my choosing. I can’t ask for more. 

On a day-to-day basis, my condition presents obstacles, particularly with mobility and feelings of nausea, pain and dizziness which can be overwhelming at times.  The Cathedra 900 project is multifaceted, and organising the many aspects can be daunting.  Even carrying out simple tasks such as taking photographs in the Cathedral can be problematic because of the side-effects of my stroke, including visual impairment.   But like many people with disabilities, I find enormous satisfaction in overcoming these obstacles.  And in doing so, the work itself becomes more valuable.

At this stage, the twenty eight large scale 3D banners are in development and production for the exhibition in the Cathedral Nave from 23rd July 2012 until 31st August 2012.  A Cathedra 900 website will be completed soon, after which details will be announced regarding Cathedra 900 creative workshops, online art exhibitions, creative writing, a multi-channel sound installation and a multimedia live event to be staged in the Cathedral Nave during March 2013.  I’ll be updating this blog to document progress as the project develops, and looking at some of the aspects of the work in more detail.

If you can find time, I would very much appreciate feedback as the project develops.