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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.

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

17 June 2010

Blog

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 gets inspired by film-maker Jean Cocteau

6 July 2010

Blog

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

A poem on experience of ECT from Colin Hambrook

14 July 2010

Blog

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

'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

Colin Hambrook puts on a man suit

28 July 2010

Blog

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,...

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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...

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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...

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

12 November 2010

Blog

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...

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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...

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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....

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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...

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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 their...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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Colin reflects on decibel's aim to bring Performing Arts from across the diversity strands under one banner

24 September 2011

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photo of a man in a blue, sports top, whirling a hula hoop

A week on from decibel, the Arts Council’s Performing Arts Showcase in Manchester from 12-18 September 2011 and I am still reeling from the expanse and breadth of the work we saw there. At a time when the recession is hitting the Arts, it was exciting to experience a festival that understands how bringing artists and companies from across the range of work being made under the diversity banner can create an atmosphere that fosters new challenges, new conversations and new ways of doing...

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How do art historical texts and the media deal with disability? Answers on a postcard please...

15 November 2011

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For the Outside-In Step-Up program I am doing some research on how artists talk about themselves in terms of disability; and how art historians and academics refer to disability. As a beginning I am planning to gather as much material as I can on a broad spectrum of artists, before narrowing down to focus on a few artists. The point of my research is to look at references to disability and impairment from the perspective of the Social and Affirmative Models of Disability. As a rule of thumb,...

Comments: 8

Colin reports on 'Bad News for Disabled People' research, which reveals the extent of misrepresentation of disabled people in the media

6 December 2011

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At last Saturday's MeCCSa Disability Studies Network event titled 'The Representation of Disabled People in an Age of Austerity', Nick Watson from Strathclyde Centre for Disability Research at Glasgow University , presented findings from research into a shift in the way that the media is reporting on disability. The Centre analysed 2,276 print articles, focusing on the Express, Mail, Sun and Mirror plus the Guardian newspaper as a counterpoint. They chose to look at all articles...

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Colin wishes all DAO's contributors and readers all the best for the festive season

15 December 2011

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black and white image of a furry teacup, taken from above

DAO is preparing to wind down for the end of year break. Firstly I'd like to give a warm thanks to all our contributors and to wish all our readers all the best over the festive season. It has been an exciting year for DAO, with its readership having gone up by a fifth since the summer. We have recently come to the end of our New Voices programme in Brighton and are now looking forward to a fresh start running the course in London in partnership with New Writing South and with Shape. There have...

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Colin discusses BBC Vision's program for 'Able' disabled people

22 January 2012

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black and white picture of a microphone

In a blog on Parallel Lines recently, Aaron Williamson made the point that “the notion that an individual is disabled by their impairment is still the prevalent mainstream way of thinking.” One of the ways it manifests is in the often tokenistic way that organisations attempt to make concessions towards disabled people. Looking at the BBC Vision’s current training opportunity to find disabled presenters -‘PresentAble’ - leaves me with that certain feeling I get in...

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Trish Wheatley blogs about the latest content on DAO

3 February 2012

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A multi-layered composition in which the artist has combined painting with many photographs, postcards and badge-like objects to evoke the struggle of the Suffragettes.

Here at DAO we’ve had a fantastic start to what promises to be an astonishing year for disabled artists.  Each month we will aim to highlight some of the new content and alert you to upcoming opportunities to get involved with DAO. So, new for this month we’ve published a flurry of new blogs from our regulars, Gini, Vince Laws, Signdance, Gary Thomas, Oska Bright, Sam Jacobs and Aidan Moesby to name a few. We also welcome five writers who have just started on our Arts Council...

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Colin writes on the BBC documentary 'Deaf Teens in a Hearing World'

15 February 2012

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portrait photo of a young woman, pictured in profile, with a smile on her face

I usually watch television documentaries on disability, expecting to be slumped in my chair groaning after two minutes, before making my excuses to the disability movement and switching off with a refusal to write yet another blog about the ignorance that abounds in the world of the media. DAO recently had a surge of activity in response to our New Voices writer Charlie Swinbourne’s review of the BBC 3 documentary ‘Deaf Teens in a Hearing World’, screened earlier this month....

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DAO's Director, Trish Wheatley invites readers to air their views on DAO in return for the chance to win £40 of Amazon vouchers

1 March 2012

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DAO is currently attracting record numbers of readers peaking at 14,000 visitors per month viewing over 32,000 pages in February, which is absolutely fantastic. Thank you to all our writers and readers for their contibutions and do keep returning for all the latest in blogs, news, reviews, listings and much more.  As we gear up for an unprecedented year of cultural activity we are keen to collect your thoughts on DAO's successes and areas in which we could improve. It would help us enormously...

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Colin comments on DAO discussions around disability/ inclusive theatre-making

8 March 2012

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three dancers perform outdoors, covered in paint, with a large action painting in the background

DAO has published a couple of reports, recently on events about access to theatre and theatre-making. In her review on The Scottish Dance Theatre’s Pathways to the Profession Symposium, Jo Verrent concludes that the discussion at the conference “isn’t a battle for access, it’s about a critical contribution to culture.” Putting our experience as ‘diverse’ artists, out there is a process of finding the keys held by the gatekeepers, in a climate ever more...

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Colin visits Sanchita Islam's Pigment Explosion Party

12 March 2012

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intricate drawing of an inner landscape, using a range of media

Creativity is a place where difficulty and beauty can share the same bed and offer something of value. The Creative Case for Diversity is an approach - mooted by the Arts Council - in an attempt to have a conversation about how it is that Art that comes from artists outside the usual narrow definition of who can be defined an artist and what can be defined as art, is often the most original work being produced. DAO as a platform has attempted over recent years, to open its pages up to work by...

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