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Ems Coombes is the founder and project manager of Strictly Collaborative - an inclusive theatre company based in Plymouth. Her blog documents her journey as an emerging disabled artist; includes interviews with a series of artist/ performers; and sets about inventing a treasure hunt for those key inspirational moments in a disabled artists life.

The Road Trip (The first day of the Pathways to the Profession symposium)

1 March 2012

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'PATHWAYS TO PROFESSION' was hosted by SCOTTISH DANCE THEATRE at West Park, Dundee on Thursday 19th January 2012 I found it a struggle to get up, I always do, I love my bed, it’s so warm but this morning I was excited. I had already decided what I was wearing and everything was ready. I had a hotel sized cup of tea (they are just the right size for me. I never drink a whole cup, I leave about an inch in the bottom) and I rush downstairs to find the directions. I didn’t...

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THE ROAD TRIP [from Leeds to Dundee: Interval]

31 January 2012

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digitised photo of a bidet

My Bidet. Yep, I'm dedicating the whole interval to my bidet.  I had never experienced a bidet before, sure I had seen them in pictures, tv and films, but not in person. To say I was thrilled does not cut it. I couldn't even bring myself to use it. To be honest I wasn't really sure how? I knew it was for washing your penis, but I had also heard that it was for washing your bum - a replacment for toilet paper, saves getting toilet paper stuck in your crevices, but surely it...

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THE ROAD TRIP (from Leeds to Dundee)

30 January 2012

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digitised photo of a sunset over a service station

I feel a little strange saying this, but it was difficult to leave. I saw little Maddy at the door as Jon helped me take my huge wheelie bag (which many have said is like an old lady bag. It is a well known fact that as soon as you have a stroke you revert to being a 60 year old. I am a prime example of this. Anyway, it's not an 'old lady bag', it is green and, I think, quite trendy. And she was waving at the door. It surprised me. It's not them per se, but the situation, oo...

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The Road Trip (from Plymouth to Dundee) continued...

26 January 2012

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photo of a disabled woman with a belt to hold a sound recording device

I am in my hotel room in Dundee, I have been here since Wednesday and I am so relaxed. I have had the best time ever. With so many crips here I can relax and be myself, because I am not the only spac, no one looks at you as if your strange..and even better than that we are all artists trying to succeed and, dare I say it, change the world! So much has happened that I am clambering over my letters as I try to get all the 'golden nuggets' out in haste but I will try to make it as clear...

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The Road Trip (from Plymouth to Dundee)

17 January 2012

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photo of ems coombes

The plan is to get to Dundee by Wednesday 18th January for a Spac Symposium or Crip conference (my words). On my journey I shall be continuing with the 'Artist Treasure Hunt' which, I am hoping, will be quite fruitful as there will be a plethera of Disabled Artists up in Dundee and I shall catch them all....well maybe not all, but some. As my plans had changed, I came straight to London to see Sushila, Lindsay, Steve and Indie. Well, I say 'straight', I missed the junction at...

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All these beautiful things and I get stuck with paperwork...

24 June 2011

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several performers holding objects above their heads

I need to be a doer, a go getter Not a sitter and a thinker (Although it is an important part of the creative process!) but I need to find a balance. This lack of self confidence is an issue. A big issue. (Although the fact that I don’t know what I am doing may be a factor) ' not waving but drowning' floundering wanting to give up over and over again 'cry me a river, cos ive cried a river over you.' It’s a steep learning curve but which direction? The creative part is the bit I get...

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Ems interviews Caroline Bowditch, choreographer and performer, who is currently working with Scottish Dance Theatre

28 April 2011

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photo of face of dancer Caroline Bowditch, smiling at the camera

Ems Coombes: Caroline Bowditch, Hello and welcome to the Artist Treasure Hunt. Caroline Bowditch: Thanks for having me. EC: That’s okay. It’s quite exciting, isn’t it. CB: (Laughter) It is exciting. Why is it called the Artist Treasure Hunt? EC: Because I want to find other artists. Other disabled artists. So I’m hoping that I’ll find new blood. CB: Are you going to make a map and mark where the treasure is? EC: Maps are so one of my things. CB: Well, there you...

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Ems interviews reknowned actor and co-founder of the Burmese Theatre Workshop, Andrew McLay

18 April 2011

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A black and white photo of actor Andrew McLay

Ems Coombes: So this is quite a new project. It’s called the Artist Treasure Hunt. Andrew McLay: Hello. Thank you for doing the interview. If you can tell us a little bit about your practice and what you do, that would be grand? AM: (Laughter) I’m a director and a writer and an actor. I have my own company called the Burmese Theatre Workshop. It is made up of Burmese actors. We meet once a week at the moment and we devise and write script and we perform. My work tends to be more...

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Ems interviews Garry Robson, Director of Fittings Multimedia Arts

1 April 2011

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The Artist's Treasure Hunt Garry Robson: I loved to perform when I was a kid. But was told fairly early doors that, because I was disabled, there was no point. Because, you could never be an actor, because you’re disabled.

I think I was told that when I was about 12, you know. So my way around that was to be a musician instead. Because nobody cares about musicians to say, you know – Ems Coombes: Yes, tell me about. (Laughter) GR: You know what I mean. They can be all sorts of...

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Poem inspired by Sovay Berrimen's New Voices workshop

14 February 2011

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'From Another Side' was a performance I wrote about my experiences of having a stroke when I was 17. I would like to revamp it and bring it back into reality but I am scared. I have been thinking about it for ages but the fear is to strong at the moment. There are a lot of things that I would love to do but i don't know how others will feel, whether they will want me to disturb there life. I am turning into a wimp in my old age. FEEL THE FEAR BUT DO IT ANYWAY. From Another Side Throw 'em in at...

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On being a disabled person

9 February 2011

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When I was 17, I had a brain haemorrhage and a stroke. I had never worked with a disabled person. In no way did I think of myself as a disabled person. Even though I used a walking stick. Which is a lovely signifier of disability. The first time I realised I was a disabled person was about four or five years later when I was at university. And we did a project with The Priory, which is the Community of St Mark and St Elias in Totnes, which does work integrating mentally and physically disabled...

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The birth of Strictly Collaborative

1 February 2011

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I had never worked with any disabled people. But then I found myself a disabled person. I found it difficult to understand why people didn't know how to react to me once I had become a disabled person. I also found it really frustrating and thought it was a shame because I couldn’t see why that would be. It makes no sense to me why we’ve been – we’ve been sort of kept in our own environments and not brought together. So that we know – we know how we each other...

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Counterproductive or pondorously objective?

27 January 2011

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photo of author

After two and a half years of continuous worrying, organising, feeling indebted and, of course, enormous pride in my accomplishments (although at times I forget the pride) I am now staring at a ginormous brick wall. It's an emotional and creative brick wall and it will not budge not matter how hard I hit it... and there is no going round it this time. Yikes! Every time I settle down to write, an artistic policy, for example, something more important is always there. Washing up is very...

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