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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 Hambrook adds a vote of thanks to the intoxicating and cerebral survivor poet Dave Russell

25 October 2013

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woodcut of a man strapped to a table whilst being given electro convulsive therapy by a doctor in a white coat

This week Trish Wheatley and I have been busy making plans for new projects on DAO, getting ready to for DAOs tenth anniversary in April 2014. As one of the projects we hope to develop is a poetry prize, I thought I'd add a quick post on the first Outside In poetry event hosted by Pallant House Gallery on the 12th October. Simon Jenner penned a review of the event last week, but for those who were in attendance [and those who weren't] who wondered at the words of the wild and...

Comments: 1

Colin Hambrook on the 10,000 Cuts and Counting, memorial service and protest

29 September 2013

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The spread of Atos' tentacles. Cartoon by Crippen

I was asked by Occupy London to find disabled performers to take part in the memorial service and protest against ATOS and the Work Capability Assessment which took place on Saturday 28 September in Parliament Square. And so my thanks go to Sophie Partridge, Penny Pepper, John Kelly and Dickie Lupton who took to the stage to join their voices with those of many other disabled activists, MPs, GPs, the War On Welfare (WOW) petition and the Dean of St Paul's, the Reverend David Ison, who was...

Comments: 3

Karen's Story - RIP Karen Sherlock, Disability Rights Campaigner - Died June 8th 2012

25 September 2013

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Crippen ATOS cartoon with a wry comment on David Cameron's attitude to ATOS and the work capability assessment

I have been preparing for the memorial event in Parliament Square this coming Saturday and have re-read Karen Sherlock’s story on Bendy Girl’s ‘Benefit Scrounging Scum’ blog. Karen’s story is sadly not unremarkable – judging by the numbers of disabled individuals who have undergone intimidation and dehumanisation as a result of ATOS’ Work Capability Assessment. From the stories I’ve heard it is pretty much a lottery as to how you get treated by...

Comments: 1

Colin Hambrook gets ready for the 10,000 Cuts & Counting... ceremony of remembrance

18 September 2013

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Crippen cartoon showing a drawing of two men standing alongside a grave that has a gravestone that reads ‘RIP along with a wheelchair symbol.

Over the past week or so I’ve been working on helping get a memorial event together to mark the devastating impact of the Work Capability Assessment on the disabled community. Sometimes awareness of adversity can bring together the most unlikely bedfellows. I’m not sure who made the first move but campaigners from Occupy London - famous for camping outside St. Paul’s, have been meeting with Michael Meacher MP and the Cathedral’s Dean - The Reverend Dr David Ison - to...

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Trish Wheatley explains the Catalyst consultancy DAO is engaged in

17 September 2013

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Image shows cluster of logos for DAO, Salisbury Arts Centre, Stopgap and The Point

There’s something about the word catalyst that I find exciting and inspiring. It’s evocative of hope and change but also science and chemistry. The Arts Council’s Catalyst programme “offers organisations the opportunity to move their fundraising and development expertise onto the next level” Through a consortium project DAO, Salisbury Arts Centre, The Point Eastleigh and Stopgap Dance Company are using this programme to attempt exactly that. Each organisation has...

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Liberty? What Liberty?

9 September 2013

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expressionistic drawing  of a wheelchair-user confined by a cube

I found myself wondering what David Morris - one the key people involved in the creation of the Liberty Festival - would of thought of last Saturday's event? In 2010 the festival was dedicated to his memory and the festival banners had his words: “Together we can change our world” – emblazoned across them. True, last Saturday was a good day out. I was grateful for the opportunity to see old friends - some of whom I hadn't seen for years. And there were some stunning...

Comments: 5

Reappraisal of BBC Three's mental health season: Don't Call Me Crazy

7 August 2013

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array of newspaper headlines around anxiety, depression and other mental health issues

I recently ran a critical review of BBC Three's Don't Call Me Crazy season. It received a plethora of comments presenting opposing views, either castigating or applauding the programme makers. I made the mistake of just giving the programme a cursory glance. There is so much exploitative tv relating to a broad range of impairments including mental health, which sets out to manipulate the viewer down the same old path of tragic and brave storytelling. The usual format is to lead the...

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Colin Hambrook urges DAO readers to interact with Liz Crow's Bedding Out

1 August 2013

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Cartoon showing a female wheelchair user being held poised over a pond labelled as an 'Atos test'.

In the run-up to taking Bedding Out to the Edinburgh Fringe from 9-10 August,  Liz Crow has been busy taking the many thousands of messages in tweets made during the last performance in April at Salisbury Arts Centre and formatting the conversations as a downloadable resource divided into topics ranging from talking about labels and identity, the reality of our lives as disabled people, the welfare system, propaganda and campaigning. You can find these if you scroll down the Bedding Out...

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Colin Hambrook gives an overview of Liz Crow's Bedding In Bedding Out.

16 July 2013

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Crippen Atos hammer cartoon

In April 2013 Crow produced Bedding Out as a 48 hour durational performance for the 'People Like You' exhibition at Salisbury Arts Centre. Having piloted the installation piece (as a DAO Diverse Perspectives commission) at the SPILL Festival held in Ipswich Art School Gallery in November 2012, Crow had time to consider how to up the level of engagement created in response to the live art installation. Through a livestream the performance was watched in over 50 countries; had a...

Comments: 1

Colin Hambrook looks back as DAO prepares to celebrate ten years in April 2014

28 June 2013

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Contact sheet of 15 stills from the Heads Up film, selection of heads shots of Sarah Holmes and location images.

In April 2014 DAO will be ten years old! We've had a mix of plentiful and lean times through those years as we've gone from project to project. DAO has come a long way since my first meetings with Kwabena Gyedu at the Arts Council in 2001 and the institution of a Disability Arts microsite on ArtsOline.  After DAO became independent in 2004, I never in my wildest dreams imagined the journal would keep going this long. Much of DAOs success in surviving has been down to a productive...

Comments: 1

'Opening Up Creative Culture' - Colin Hambrook discusses audio-description and the work of the RNIB Cultural Inclusion department

25 April 2013

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cover image of the book Shifting Perspectives showing a gloved hand touching a bronze sculpture of a face

I have long objected to the idea - encouraged in art school - that visual artworks, should by definition, only be able to 'speak for themselves' - and that any written or spoken text interpreting a painting or a photograph simply 'got in the way' of the viewer's imagination. Words, when used creatively, and in an accessible way add layers enhancing the viewer's experience of the artwork, rather than telling people what to see. Yesterday, Zoe Partington, Cultural and...

Comments: 4

Colin Hambrook asks where do we find Disability Arts and activism?

15 April 2013

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colour image of shocking pink grab rails spelling out the word 'People' on a black background

The Disability, Arts & Diversity Symposium: 'From the Personal to the Universal' at Salisbury Arts Centre last week, promised to be "an in depth look at Disability Arts and activism from the viewpoints of artists, producers, presenters and policy makers." There are myriad implications for Disability Arts and its activist role in the wider social context, but to my mind the Symposium itself did little to address the issues. I wonder if somewhere along the way, the glory of...

Comments: 3

Liz Crow Bed's In at Salisbury Arts Centre to talk about disempowerment and discrimination

12 April 2013

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You would expect that a symposium on Disability Art as Activism will centre around the role that the arts play in addressing political issues. There is still time to get involved in disabled artist Liz Crow's live marathon public sleepover taking place in Salisbury Arts Centre. Liz takes centre stage in a large bed. Her purpose is to talk about what bed-life means for us as disabled people. She highlights the contradiction between the demands of the Benefits Agencies in making you present...

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Trish Wheatley invites you to take the DAO Reader Survey

3 April 2013

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Hand written multicoloured text reads: News Listings Reviews Blogs Interviews Galleries

The new look DAO has been live a few weeks now and we are keen to get your feedback on this and all aspects of DAO. We started doing an annual survey last year. It's really important that we hear from you so that we can continue to make improvements and deliver the content that really matters to you. We also use quotes anonymously from the survey as evidence of the need for DAO in our funding applications so good honest feedback really does help us to survive in challenging financial...

Comments: 2

Trish Wheatley attends the opening of the People Like You exhibition at Salisbury Arts Centre

8 March 2013

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photo of a group of soft sculptures of figures

In his book Future Perfect, Steve Johnson makes the observation that "as a news hook, steady incremental progress pales beside the sexier stories of dramatic breakthrough and spectacular failure". Here on DAO I believe we buck that trend. Whilst we plotted the highlights of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad we also, through our smaller news stories and ongoing blogs, aimed to cover those  incremental but no less significant steps in the arts world from a disability perspective. This...

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Colin Hambrook introduces the new look DAO and invites you to attend a symposium on disability art and activism at Salisbury Arts Centre

1 March 2013

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a pair of hand drawn wings, extended to the sky, white on dark blue.

We've been working hard during the last six months on the new design of DAO, which we launched earlier this week. Big thanks to everyone who has sent us feedback in the last few days. Responding to our last readers survey in March 2012 we decided to move away from the handmade feel and produce a bolder design which highlighted art form to make it easier to find features on specific topics within the navigation. We're working hard on identifying bugs in the older pages and tweaking...

Comments: 5

In a guest editorial Denis Joe asks 'Whither Disability Arts?'

28 January 2013

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painting of a bedroom interior with bare floorboards by Van Gogh

When I was in junior school I remember we were reading David Copperfield and the teacher used to break off from the reading to tell us something about Charles Dickens. I hated those diversions. I wasn’t interested in Dickens only in what he produced. To this day I still find it irritating that people feel the need to tell me about the man/woman behind the work as if this has any bearing on the end result. But I came to realise that this wasn’t merely a preference on my part. Whilst...

Comments: 9

A guest editorial from Q.S Is in response to Colin Hambrook's article on medication and mental health

7 January 2013

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a black and white drawing of a woman knitting

I read your DAO editorial Colin and found it very illuminating. I'm personally, not an advocate of medication either. Actually, I've been asked to write a book by an organisation called KAOS, based in Brussels, which will include essays detailing my own personal strategies and methodologies to deal with issues of the mind, along with accompanying artwork. I have no proof, but I think making art and writing helped me recover from psychosis and stopped a recurrence of episodes. I think...

Comments: 3

Here's wishing all DAO readers love and peace over the festive season from the Criptarts and all of us at Disability Arts Online

20 December 2012

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A festive seasonal message from disabled cartoonist Crippen, featuring the Criptarts cartoon characters

Trish and I would like to take this opportunity to wish all DAO readers a very happy, peaceful holiday and to thank all our contributors and trainees for their continued support and engagement this year. It's been an exciting 2012 with some fabulous work produced as a result of our Diverse Perspectives commissions from Crippen and John O'Donoghue, Ivan Riches, Liz Crow, Gini and Aaron Williamson. We had a tremendous time covering the work resulting from the Unlimited commissions and...

Comments: 0

Why mental health is a 'disability' issue

10 December 2012

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I've been mulling over the range of comments that were entered in last weeks online debate as posted in DAOs editorial. In response I have to say, first off, that we have stop thinking of disability as a physical attribute. Disability is a state of inequality brought about as a result of oppression within society. This is often to do with physical barriers and lack of physical access, but it is also because of attitudinal barriers. What I would like to emphasise to those who would...

Comments: 8

Richard Downes discusses the debate on Disability Arts And Identity in last week's editorial

9 December 2012

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digitised image of an old clock



I am an old clock. Tick Tock Tick Tock
I call myself a disabled clock because the experience of impairments that I had over time is one of discrimination. The response of society to my impairments led me to a less than useful places where I was brutalised by watchmakers, not clockmakers, with callouses – later it meant restricted employment opportunities – and later still to mental health issues. Tick Tock Tick Tock
. I tried with varying shades of success...

Comments: 3

Colin Hambrook posts the debate from FaceBook group on disability art and Identity

5 December 2012

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ink drawing of several figures in a strange landscape

Last week DAOs FaceBook group was the site of a raging debate about disability, art and identity. Between 19-27 November members of the group posted something in the region of 15,000 words in 122 posts. Responses were passionate. It was a valuable debate testing the validity, or otherwise of Disability Art, a Disability Arts Movement and of definitions of being a 'disabled artist'. Many of the contributions question the social model ethic of 'self-definition' and the validity...

Comments: 97

Colin Hambrook attends the 21st Anniversary celebration of Survivors’ Poetry

9 November 2012

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screenshot of the homepage of the survivors poetry website

Last night was the 21st Anniversary of Survivors’ Poetry. It’s not difficult to fill the Poetry Café in Betterton Street, London, but it was a suitable venue for what was for me, an emotional occasion. Being involved with Survivors’ Poetry through the 1990s was instrumental in my getting involved with the Disability Arts Movement. Joe Bidder was then and remains to this day, an engaging mentor and advocate. Without him I would never have been able to move forward with...

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Colin Hambrook on Liz Crow's 'Bedding-In'

2 November 2012

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I often edit DAO from my bed. As someone with ME who has limited capacity for getting out and about responding to emails, publishing and sub-editing are frequently done between bouts of resting in bed. So when Liz Crow sent DAO a proposal for a Diverse Perspectives commission for an artwork involving a live bed-in I was particularly intrigued. Her intention for the live performance was to make a statement about the immense contradiction between the public face of the artist as someone with an...

Comments: 2

Colin Hambrook attends Simon Raven's 'Ghost Writer Party'

1 November 2012

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a young woman dressed in a black and white dress tentatively plucks a cheese on a stick from the head of a figure dressed completely in tin foil

I wanted to write a quick update on where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing. On 31 October Simon Raven produced a vibrant event at the Camden Arts Centre to celebrate the ending of his residency there as part of his Adam Reynolds Bursary awarded by Shape. There was inevitably a Halloween theme to Simon’s ‘Ghost Writer Party’. People were dressed suitably as Dorian Grey, Edgar Allan Poe and there were several Miss Havisham’s knocking around. Simon did a...

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