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> > > Disabled artist makes streets her canvas in the build up to London 2012

5 March 2012

graphic of a medical chart

First Impressions uses biomedical data to inform a film installation

A street in High Wycombe will be creatively transformed in March as part of a cultural programme celebrating London 2012. Conceptual disabled artist, Zoe Partington, has worked on developing a creative response to how disabled people navigate through urban spaces and the impact this has on them emotionally and physically.

Zoe’s work was chosen as part of an open commissioning programme for disabled and Deaf artists in the South East run by the arts organisation, Ardent Hare, the development agency for disabled and Deaf artists and Artpoint (South East public art agency),supported by Arts Council England.

This groundbreaking film installation called First Impressions will chart the journey taken by a blind person through urban space, with biomedical data impacting on the speed and sound of the film. The film is intended to highlight the correlation between disabled people’s journeys and the impact that the design of the environment in urban spaces takes on a person’s stress levels. It also exposes the perspectives and places which disabled people view on the journeys taken through towns and cities and highlights how different the environment can seem and how uninteresting streetscapes can appear if the view or physical interaction of the place is changed or imposed on you.

The work has been developed with students and staff from Bucks New University and their company in residence, Signdance Collective.

Zoe Partington says:

"This opportunity to develop my arts practise informed by my own experience of sightloss has taken me on an emotional and powerful journey. It has embedded the 'power of art' in terms of a tool for change and discourse intrinsically into my own work and my fascination with sharing ideas with people through words and mark making on the film and 3-d installation. This is, for me, a starting point of a new way to work across art forms. This has brought together my own unique experience of way finding and orientating through urban spaces and cities with sightloss.

What's important is the way I translate my experiences into a creative medium that encourages people to question their reactions to disabled people and consider their insights of their own journeys through towns and cities and through life. In reference to the Cultural Olympiad and 2012 the installation is a historic moment for my work which incorporates change and inclusive approaches.”

Stevie Rice, Director of Ardent Hare says:

“The process of developing this work has engaged students, disabled people, local communities and university staff and for that reason has meant that the project has really got people talking about disability, access and the environment we live in. This will provide a great opportunity for residents and visitors to High Wycombe to experience the streets of the town from a different perspective and raises the awareness of disability issues in a very creative way.”

The artwork will be installed between Friday 16th and Tuesday 20th March outside Bucks New University on Queen Alexandra Road, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire and will be operational each evening from 6:30pm -10pm.

Go Public is part of Accentuate, a transformational programme of 15 projects, inspired by the Paralympic Movement, which seeks to change perceptions and offer opportunities to showcase the talents of deaf and disabled people.

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