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Colin Hambrook:Editorial - disability arts online
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Colin Hambrook established Disability Arts Online in 2004. Since then he has been editing and maintaining the journal and its social media outlets. In his blog he comments on aspects of stuff going in within Disability Arts and the specific arts programmes Dao is engaged with.. as well being known to vent the occasional rant.

Colin asks 'What is Liberty?'

12 September 2011

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road sign

Last Friday I entertained a group of nine young disabled people on a research visit from Seoul in Korea. They were wanting to find out about the history of disability arts development in the UK. They wanted to know how disabled artists in the UK have achieved the level of independence that we have; how we have got into a position where our work is seen, now, within the pantheon of professional arts practice. I talked about the importance of the Social Model of Disability as a rallying cry; the...

Comments: 2

Colin reviews John O’Donoghue's memoir 'Sectioned'

16 August 2011

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book cover

I finally got around to reading John O’Donoghue’s autobiography ‘Sectioned: A life interrupted’. It won the MIND book of the year in 2010 so has been on my shelf for a while now. The preface hurls you into the author's world as a teenager with a tale of exorcism, after the death of his father, and his mother's subsequent breakdown. From that point, the use of narrative and the clarity of the storytelling brings alive the people and experiences John lived...

Comments: 0

Colin reviews My Song scripted by Charlie Swinbourne - his highlight of the Up-Stream Festival

30 May 2011

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still of star of My Song, Lara Steward holding her right hand in the air.

Up-Stream went full steam ahead at the end of last month as part of the prestigious Brighton Festival. Colin reports on some highlights I had quite a few highlights from amongst all the work that was showcased. The most memorable for me was seeing My Song, scripted by Charlie Swinbourne and directed by William Mager. The blurb on the British Sign Language Boradcasting Trust website describes the film as "a coming of age story which follows Ellen, a young deaf girl stuck in the middle of...

Comments: 0

Colin goes from the sublime to the ridiculous and back again in the search for good music

1 April 2011

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Shut up and Listen has become compulsory listening in the last few months. Hosted by members of Carousel house band, Zombie Crash, it's a thoroughly entertaining hour. Ryan and Luc bounce off of each other on radio - as they introduce a compelling selection of tracks from learning disabled musicians from here and abroad. 

The March 2011 show which is available on the Shut up and Listen website, is an Australian Special with a feature on the Oska Bright Film Festival as they take...

Comments: 0

Colin Hambrook on adopting an 'artist name'

1 February 2011

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black ink drawing

Supporting artists to develop their artistic lives is what drives me to keep [Disability Arts Online] DAO going. It's not something I always get right... and an issue has arisen recently with an artist I am working with, that I thought I'd ask for some advice on. Identity is key and we don't always want our artist identities to be linked with our day-to-day identities for a variety of reasons. I adopted Mole as my artists' name early on in my career as a visual artist/ poet. Thinking back now...

Comments: 4

Editor Colin Hambrook reviews some DAO highlights of 2010

1 January 2011

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Tanya Raabe drawing at the easel

Greetings to all the wonderful disabled artists, performers and writers who have contributed to DAO and made it such a fantastic journal to edit over the past year. Over the last eight months or so I've been making more of a concerted effort to encourage disabled individuals, companies and projects to use DAO as a place to blog about life, art, access and artistic practice. It's been a rewarding experience and so (in no particular order) I'd like to share some of my highlights of the past year....

Comments: 1

Colin Hambrook takes a look at the latest Christmas offering from the Disabled Avant Garde

8 December 2010

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I caught Ed Vaizey on BBC Parliament last week. He was answering questions before a Select Committee challenging him on whether there is any justification for spending public funding on the Arts. A key reason he gave was that he saw the Arts as a bastion for sharing Happiness. Believe it or not he described himself as the Minister for Happiness. He talked about the economic arguments for investing in the Arts, although it was clear from the discussions that the agenda for commercial sponsorship...

Comments: 1

Colin Hambrook goes in pursuit of some 'Reasons to be Cheerful'

12 November 2010

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photo of a group of four punks posing in line against a red fence

On the way to Stratford Theatre Royal for an evening of Graeae's raved-about Reasons to be Cheerful - it was bizarre to read a report in the Daily Mail of several Labour MPs using twitter to send messages of support in favour of the students who attacked the Tory headquarters earlier this week. The Labour Party's support of violent action is not unprecedented, of course. They took us into Iraq despite the million march and a national sense of the injustice of waging that war. Reasons took us...

Comments: 3

Colin Hambrook is on his way down the mental health road

2 August 2010

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Another day, another poem, dragging through the ether. There are lots of twists and turns down the mental health road; no easy solutions, just lots of conundrums and silence scattered with unhealthy, stigmatising epithets of goodwill and brave wishes. Love and Possession Me and my shadow kick an old leather football back and forth across a blackbird infested patch of grass inside the compound. A wire mesh looms above us; the taunts of twittering suburbia are held by the rhythm of each thud; the...

Comments: 3

Colin Hambrook puts on a man suit

28 July 2010

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black and white drawing of a young man frowning

I am pleased the way that the blog section of DAO has taken off in the past few months. Having the opportunity to publish work continues to be a pleasure that I am very grateful for. When you've grown up with the idea that you need fixing in some way it makes parenthood even more of a challenge... Man Suit This baby place remembers you, newly made a smile, perhaps imagined, and a way of holding the little finger outwards, as if grasping an invisible cup of tea at a garden party. All-consuming,...

Comments: 0

'Dreams of the Absurd...'

19 July 2010

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black and white surreal drawing with a clock

In the 1990s I put together a visual arts exhibition called 'Dreams of the Absurd' which got shown in various galleries in the UK and abroad. It was an extension of a series of large-scale paintings, prints and writing about experience of mental health issues. During research I did whilst still at college I connected the work with the representation of 'madness' within the history of art. I've been trying to get back into making and showing my own work since the those...

Comments: 3

A poem on experience of ECT from Colin Hambrook

14 July 2010

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drawing of a figure held in thought by representations of demonic forces

I try hard when writing poetry… sometimes too hard. Scanning this drawing into the computer somehow gave it an even more oppressive feel. Playing with the contrast made it that much starker. The drawing wasn't made for the poem, but the mood of the drawing sums up some of the suppressed rage in this poem. There is a central figure in battle with demons and strange fizzing machines rising above him. So many of my drawings express different aspects of psychosis... In many ways my life has...

Comments: 8

Colin Hambrook gets inspired by film-maker Jean Cocteau

6 July 2010

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I've been thinking of posting some of my poetry for some time now. Poetry is one of those things I do to keep going when life gets tough. I love Jean Cocteau's 1949 retelling of the story of Orpheus. I was born in the underworld. So-called schizophrenia came knocking on the door when I was still in the womb. Going through mirrors, down holes, into the labyrinth, is something I'm overly familiar with. It's defined who I am. It seems to me that Jean Cocteau understood something about being...

Comments: 10

DAO reaches places no other web journal does - according to editor Colin Hambrook

17 June 2010

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drawing of an abstract figure with tree, star and sickle moon

I feel strongly about the sense of being part of a worldwide disability community that DAO invokes - and which guides my sense of editorship of the journal. The engagement that DAO stirs in its audience and the sense of ownership by the contributors - is something irreplaceable. At least ten per cent of DAOs 6000 plus, visitors per month come from outside the UK. It's maybe not massive numbers comparative with other online arts journals - but the difference is that DAO has a dedicated audience,...

Comments: 4

Colin Hambrook comments on Outside Centre's 'Stamps of Disability' website

3 June 2010

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Outside Centre logo

Outside Centre is a disability arts oganisation, working within the Social Model of Disability, whose primary objective is to celebrate and promote disability and disabled people through arts and culture. They have produced Stamps of Disability - an online collection of postage stamps from across the world that depict disability. Searchable by theme and by country they cover everything from Beethoven to Princess Diana's Anti-land Mine Campaign. In many ways postage stamps play a similar role to...

Comments: 5

Colin Hambrook continues in the shadow of Ian Dury...

23 May 2010

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photo of actor playing Ian Dury

I saw the last show of Fittings Multimedia's Raspberry at the Clocktower, Croydon on 14 May. It was (almost) everything I hoped for with some great songs; a fantastic cabaret-style performance from Garry Robson in the role of Spasticus - a cockney-rhyming pastiche of everything that made Ian Dury great! The off-setting of Garry's play-along delivery with the superb vocal range of Sally Clay, made for engaging entertainment with a disability message. Sally sings a mix of soul, jazz, operatic and...

Comments: 3

Colin Hambrook continues to be mad...

10 May 2010

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painting of a man injecting large needles into another man

Living with disability can get extreme sometimes. For me, living in the wake of so-called 'schizophrenia' has meant a lifetime of juggling the darkest emotions like tennis balls. My relationship with the illness has been a lifelong struggle... one of those things you are not meant to own up to. It's a guaranteed conversation-stopper. Even within the disability community you are not guaranteed an empowering response. Reference to the illness can be a great way of losing acquaintances you are not...

Comments: 5

Colin Hambrook is mad!

23 April 2010

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a print of a face screaming

I apologise for not writing for a while. I've been falling out of trees - Oaks mostly - under the misty moon-breathe of a schizo heart. No dwelling place where explosive smiles burp on every street corner, taking you down to where the walrus begins. And all the demons turning into butterflies. You wish! Very little makes sense when the periodic table takes a hold of all the thoughts that trail the world forever: in peace the last upwards spilling rain, soaking the sky and telling me with a...

Comments: 1

Colin Hambrook responds to Tony Heaton’s talk about his sculpture as part of Shape’s ‘Animate’ programme on 4 February 2010

10 February 2010

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Great Britain from a Wheelchair sculpture by Tony Heaton

I’ve known Tony Heaton since 1993. He’s always been very enigmatic, passionate and down-to-earth in his approaches to the projects he takes up. I came into the disability arts movement in the wake of Shaken not Stirred - a piece of performance art installation that became a defining moment in disability arts history for many people in the disabled peoples’ movement. The title came from a quote from James Bond who always liked his martinis shaken not stirred. Apparently Ian...

Comments: 1

Colin Hambrook wishes the good ship dao and all who sail in her a Happy New Year!

29 December 2009

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Crippen's cartoon about younger disabled people

2009 was a year of extreme highs on the dao front and lows in terms of dealing with personal impairment issues. Big thanks to all our writers and bloggers for helping us bring disability arts online alive - and to Jon Pratty for taking over the reins. Crippen's irrepressible humour has kept us entertained all year. I think his Old Farts cartoon probably has to be the one that sums up the challenges ahead for 2010. We've been secluded in our disability arts tower for years now. The signs are on...

Comments: 6

Colin Hambrook reflects on the Rethink Parliament programme

8 November 2009

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photo shows a woman with glasses talking to a man wearing a suit

Dao has been working with Parliamentary Outreach, Rethink and artist Rachel Gadsden on a project which looks at the relevance of the parliamentary process to people who have been through the mental health system. We reported on the pilot project Breaking Barriers and are due to film a story about the Rethink Parliament workshop programme, which is being rolled out across the UK until July 2010. John Bercow MP launched the Rethink Parliament programme in the Jubilee Room on 5 November 2009. He...

Comments: 0

Colin Hambrook reflects on the second Artists Debating Identity event at Shape

16 October 2009

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On Thursday 15 October Shape held their second informal conversation, led by Michèle Taylor - this time targeted at performing artists. Recognising the current lack of a platform for disabled and Deaf performers to come together to share ideas and talk about prevalent issues, Shape has created an ongoing event where 20 or so disabled and Deaf people can come together to talk openly and honestly. Michèle set the tone by opening the debate with a showing of Liz Crows’ film...

Comments: 6

Colin Hambrook needs to learn to take it easy ...

25 September 2009

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black and white drawing of a figure against a backdrop of moon and star

I’ve been at sixes and sevens the last couple of weeks. You know how it is – sometimes impairment can get the better of things. I count myself lucky to be in a position where I can do work which affords me the comfort of allowing me to manage the daily slog of M.E. related restrictions. I have just met with Gaelle Mellis – the dynamic artistic director of Restless Dance Company in Adelaide. We talked a lot about that thorny issue of identification. It is so understandable why...

Comments: 3

Colin Hambrook drops in on the Edinburgh Fringe

16 August 2009

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I’ve been away for the past week, staying in Dunbar with friends. I thought I’d pop in on the Edinburgh Festival to see what disability-related arts I could find in the theatre section. From looking through the brochure it seems there is some mental health-related work amongst the enormous panoply of shows, exhibitions etc, happening this year. So I made it into town to see Steve Walter’s An Acute Psychotic Episode (II) – billed as “a good-humoured,...

Comments: 0

Disability arts - is it politics, or is it art? Who decides?

10 July 2009

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I have always been reluctant to write about my impairment issues. Such talk always leads towards a medical model, victim mentality. And that is why the disability arts community has always, rightly, made room for self-definition. We’ve been labouring against medical model labels that brand us as tragic for a long time. And certainly the weight of media still continues to represent us as victims of our conditions and to define us with negative stories about our lives; or dressing us up in...

Comments: 0