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I'm an inconsistent artist, hugely distracted by life. I create in a variety of media including words, pictures, food and laundry. I do it because I can't seem to not. Sometimes it's fun.

Disabled people are not worth the minimum wage. How could I forget?

29 October 2014

Blog

A self portrait of the author with two fingers

A woman’s blog is never done My last posting was a catalogue of horrors, a list of the ways in which the past four years have not been a good time to be a disabled person. Will 2015’s general election bring forth a kinder and more just government? One can only hope. I'm no optimist, yet I heard myself tell a disabled person with learning difficulties today that things can only get better... In my last blog I forgot to mention David Freud, the man in charge of benefit reform....

Comments: 0

What artists do all day: Scribble while the world burns.

27 October 2014

Blog

Page from my journal 10 October 2014

I was growing accustomed to feeling OK about myself, after nearly a lifetime of self-hate, all-purpose anger and general internal mayhem. At last, maybe I CAN be a proper artist, I was thinking. But look what I'm up against: Goodbye social welfare In May 2010 with the arrival of the coalition government, the future for disabled people began to look bleak. The recent past (since 1995) felt like the good old days; the Disability Discrimination Act a fart in the wind. Bit by bit the entire...

Comments: 5

If you're disabled, smile! You're on television.

10 October 2014

Blog

Self portrait of the artist.

BBC Three is casting for actors for a new laughter-filled fantasy entertainment series featuring a couple of young disabled parents. As in real life, the characters are lovely, full of fun, and in complete denial. They watch too much television. Life is but a dream. As a full-time paid-up member of the disability rights movement, I've known and knocked around with hundreds of disabled people, not all of whom would subscribe to that label, which isn't the issue, here. Ask me about that...

Comments: 3

A poem for National Poetry Day 2014: Fragmented conversation reconstructed.

2 October 2014

Blog

Black and white abstract image.

Fragmented conversation reconstructed   They are not the problem. He died alone, a monologue. Joke.   Your proximity matters. Surrounded by statues, so close. Redeemed.   Our distance fills the spaces. Creeps up, screaming. Inside.   Words under lines. A statement, misguided. Disguised.   National Poetry Day 2nd October 2014...

Comments: 1

Mind mapping: How to see a mess in a mass of stuff.

29 September 2014

Blog

MInd map - a diagram to help organise one's thoughts.

I've had a(nother) clear-out. Open University B789 course notes have long gathered dust upon the at-risk register. I took the chunky file ino the garden to read. Result? Too interesting to throw away. For example, this diagram is a mind map I made at the beginning of the course. The diagram says as much about the state of my mind as the subject I was studying (voluntary sector management). Mind mapping is a way to organise one's thoughts, to help write essays and speeches, or exam...

Comments: 1

Lazy Sunday: A patchwork of possibilities. TB or not TB. No question.

23 September 2014

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Day in Life (working title) 2014.

I have a problem. I can’t (as in it’s not happening) draw, paint, write or otherwise create. Cook, even. Much. These days. Apart from Tzatzki, which doesn’t involve heat, so strictly speaking isn’t cooking. Pathetic. Nor can I read. I finished a book two weeks ago and since then I haven’t managed to start another. Pathetic. Yet! I’m surrounded by stimuli, natural as well as the other kind. So last Sunday I took photographs of some of the things around me; in...

Comments: 5

Sometimes I look up. Words and a picture.

11 September 2014

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Sky. Whispy clouds. A tiny bit of a building.

Sometimes. Words. Trees and grass sun clouds and birds moon togetherness, yes loneliness, yes nothingness, yes hopelessness, yes hopefulness, yes colour and light grey curiosity and wonder grime holidays and alcohol school happiness and freedom crime cat and mouse rain hat and coat run girl and boy mum sock and shoe thud laugh and cry smile hi and bye good.   Sometimes. A picture. Two months ago, when I took this photograph (on my phone) I was doing a lot of lying down (for medicinal...

Comments: 0

Wine, women and song: Dinner parties and midnight feasts.

9 September 2014

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The dining hall at St Georges, Chailey Heritage.

On 2nd September 2014 I watched the YouTube live streamed performance of Katherine Araniello’s The Dinner Party on my tablet. I thoroughly enjoyed it for all the reasons Sophie Partridge gives in her review. Originally I thought the work was inspired by The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago. But no. Its inspiration was the 1920s German comedy, Dinner for One, where the butler stands in (and drinks) for all the distinguished yet absent/non-existent guests. Drunkenness and mayhem ensue....

Comments: 1

This blog is a work in progress: notes on The Dinner Party Revisited

3 September 2014

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note-writing on a lined page

I’m not in London. I’m at home, making the best of it, imagining the world outside and what it’s like at Unlimited at the Southbank Centre. (I was there in 2012). Not that I’m not busy. I’ve been tweeting and facebooking; screenshotting, hashtagging, linking and uploading about last night’s live screening of Katherine Araniello’s Unlimited performance. I’ll write a blog, because The Dinner Party Revisited is interesting and important. Here’s...

Comments: 0

Everything is alright, upright, not out of sight.

21 August 2014

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Woman, sitting. 2014. Digital composite image.

A couple of months ago I started noticing that my back was hurting to the point of feeling I couldn’t sit or stand a moment longer. This was ugly, vile and monstrous pain you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. Except Hitler, maybe. So I took my body to see the GP and she sent me first for an Xray and blood test (in case TB had returned, but it hadn’t, thankfully) and then to the hospital, where I saw an orthopaedic chap, who said I was interesting and that it was fantastic...

Comments: 0

Being alive - a creative act.

14 July 2014

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Photograph of Deborah Caulfield wearing swimming googles and pulling a silly face.

The GP said I probably have a fractured vertebra. After getting an X-ray (result pending at time of writing) I did the following in this order: Had a lie down (because it hurt). Bought a portable DAB radio (in case I have to go into hospital). Went for a swim (to relieve the pressure of gravity and to exercise the bits that aren’t broken). What’s this got to do with art? Everything. My life is a work of art in itself, or so it seems to me right now. Being alive is my best work to...

Comments: 3

London: Maybe it's because I love freedom and Art

16 May 2014

Blog

A photograph of the front cover of my London A-Z atlas.

I'm a Londoner, born in East Ham, where my dad grew up. In the mid 1950s my parents relocated to Basildon in Essex, one of several post-war New Towns, where a job in a factory came with a council house and an indoor toilet. Three years after leaving Chailey Heritage my dad was dead and I couIdn't take any more of my mother's narcisism and random sex life. I took a green bus to London, leaving no forwarding address. I had my A-Z. I was free. London was exciting: The busyness and...

Comments: 2

A necessary poem about death and survival - inspired by Virginia Woolf.

7 May 2014

Blog

Black and white photograph of trees in Holland Park, London.

In the poem: 'He' is my dad. He died March 1st 1968, age 42. He'd had multiple sclerosis for seven years. He was a smiley man with a temper as sharp as his wit. 'She' is my mother. She was, for the whole of her long life, a sad and lonely bully, a narcisist who disliked almost everyone, including herself. In the 5th verse, 'they' are my siblings. They were not allowed to go to our dad's funeral. This is not a clever poem, but a necessary one. It just...

Comments: 5

If you're looking for inspiration, you came to the wrong place.

22 March 2014

Blog

Self portrait of the artist.

I read this: Driving Inspiration: teams up disabled artists and Paralympians with disabled and non-disabled young people. Then I wrote this in the comments box underneath the article: I see a big problem with disabled people having to be inspirational in order to improve other people's attitudes towards them. Talk about being set up to fail. Then I wrote this on Twitter: #disabledpeople Arts funders expect our work to be #inspirational to improve other people's attaitudes towards us...

Comments: 2

Thank You Shirley Williams - Plasticine Role Model

23 February 2014

Blog

a female figure made of modelling clay (similar to Plasticine), pipe cleaners, wooden spoons, lolly sticks, bendy wire and wrapping paper floats against a brightly coloured stripy background

I created this the other day. I used modelling clay (similar to Plasticine), pipe cleaners, wooden spoons, lolly sticks, bendy wire and wrapping paper. I was at an event for women arts practitioners and such like. In the warm up session we were asked to pick a woman who we admired and/or inspired us. My first choice was my daughter, Katherine, who is a brilliant musician, dancer and linguist, and experimental cook. She runs her own arts agency, Kaia Arts. My second choice for inspirational...

Comments: 1

Sick child. Scene One. Seen them all.

21 January 2014

Blog

Picture of two females, nurses, who are smiling and standing each side of a non-smiling and rather sad child.

Imaginary interview taking place sometime around now. Interviewer: Doreen, tell us about this picture. Doreen: Hang on, I’ll just get a fag. Interviewer: Take your time. No rush. Make yourself comfortable. Doreen: Right, monkey. Now then. When we took photographs, back then, in the 1950s we used to pose people and make them stand properly. We’d tell them to watch the birdie. Interviewer: Is that what you did? Why was that, I wonder. Doreen: Well dear, the birdie was the camera...

Comments: 0

Cheer up! It's only death.

5 January 2014

Blog

Three figures, drawn in a loose sketchy style, skulls, no hair or flesh, stand over a horizontal skeleton. The background is swirling dark blue, pink and red.

I probably shouldn't be here.  The world is a mess, despicable things are happening and people are dying sadly, horribly and needlessly. It seems likely to me that these deaths are being deliberately caused in order to reduce the population. Floods and storms are caused by nature and are beyond human control (though I wouldn't put it past them to manipulate the weather). On the other hand, taking benefits from disabled and sick people, making them destitute and suicidal, is...

Comments: 3

Pain body... a brief refrain

20 September 2013

Blog

drawing of several bodies

A beast with no brain. For a start, it has no heart This... This... Thing. This... This .... Monster Ranting and raging Wreaking havoc  With my days and plans With my colour With my sensibilities With my senses With my sense of self. It is nonsense. I don't care. Get me? I mean it. Go! Ok, stay, if you insist. I'm nothing, clearly. A no-thing. Be there. I don't care. Hate me. Hurt me. Though you'll never destroy me. I'm here to stay. To win. Survive. Watch...

Comments: 2

No inspiration? Try growing your own.

25 August 2013

Blog

Monochrome mandala image. Pencil

I intended to draw a mandala on the computer but I couldn't be bothered to learn how. And I must have been yearning to make marks. Out came the pencil, pad and compasses. An hour and a half later, this. As mandalas go, it is pretty basic, I know. I’m certainly not making any claims for its art worthiness, or any religious or peace-making powers. It’s an organised doodle, that’s all. Yet there was something rather organic and transformative in the making of it. Spiritual,...

Comments: 0

Disability. Arts. Symposium. What's not to like?

11 April 2013

Blog

A jumble of words crowded together

Symposium is Greek for partying and plotting with one’s chums and cohorts. Lying was the norm, as in cushions, couches and comfort. Food, wine and entertainment were laid on too. From the Personal to the Universal Symposium on Disability Arts, Diversity and Activism (Salisbury Arts Centre, 10 April 2013) wasn’t anything like this. What else wasn’t it like? It wasn’t like, political. It wasn’t like, rights-based. It wasn’t like, about barriers, exclusion and...

Comments: 3

Twelve questions about child abuse

9 February 2013

Blog

Sick child

  Who saw?   Who heard?   Who told?   Who listened?   Who cared?   Who lied?   Who denied?   Who cried?   Who smiled?   Who lived?   Who died?   Who...

Comments: 5

I am an artist. Not in so many words.

3 November 2012

Blog

Digital photo collage and self portrait

A job became available so I jumped at it. You know how it is. Life is long while money is short. If you’ve got health, you’ve got wealth, said my Jewish aunties, followed by a chorus of approval from the entire rest of the family. Of course, they meant good health, not just any old health. In those days, health was what you had if you weren’t ill. Nowadays governments say we must have health and well being, healthy lifestyles, healthy relationships and a healthy bank balance....

Comments: 3

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