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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.

Being alive - a creative act.

14 July 2014

Blog

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: 1

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

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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

Getting back to normal

23 September 2012

Blog

Now that euphoria of the Paralympics, and the more subdued excitement of Unlimited, have gone away, I'm looking back and trying to see it all for what it was. What was it? Did Channel 4 achieve the predicted paroxysmic shift in society's attitude to disability? Or was it ephemera on a grand scale,   a blip in which disability became temporarily interesting? Who knows? Winning is a transitory state. Disability is (usually) permanent. Medals, I’m guessing, can’t be...

Comments: 4

Blogging about swimming for the time being.

20 August 2012

Blog

Deborah Caulfield wearing swimming goggles

The build-up to the Paralympics has begun, with nightly programmes on Channel 4. It’s extremely exciting. So I’m quietly reflecting on the business of disabled people doing sport, and feeling rather in awe but mostly baffled and untouched. So much rushing about. At school (Chailey Heritage) no one did sport. It was ‘games’, occasionally football and rounders, but always a lot of cricket. School (boys) against Masters and so on. People being bowled over with their legs...

Comments: 7

200 words of text and a picture. They go together.

8 August 2012

Blog

Drawing of a jumble of everyday objects on a coffee table.

This is what days are like when the air is too hot for sleep and too dry to be tired. Tidying up is for other people, happy types with ordered lives, traditional values and smart goals; winners in the race against hopelessness. Life is unfinished. My hair gets brushed once a day if it’s lucky. Finding the brush is the least of my worries. The bedside cabinet drawer is falling apart. I have a tool box. What happened? Those sunshine dreams turned into nightmares (in the pouring rain) which...

Comments: 4

Making a picture on a cloudy day.

27 June 2012

Blog

Title: Aagh 03. Digital collage.

It's Tuesday and it's cloudy. You know when you're tidying up your sock drawer, chucking out ones you haven't worn for years, as well as the ones with holes in, putting the winter ones in a box. Then you come across a fish net stocking and sling it in the bin. Then you take it out and put it over your head. Which gives you an idea ... So you take it off and start applying thick black make-up over your face. Because you're quite angry about all the advertising aimed at women...

Comments: 2

Where am I? The clue is in the picture.

25 June 2012

Blog

Bull drawing. Charcoal and chinese ink. 10 x 10 cms

Not for the first time, I’ve been showing a lack of commitment, blowing hot and cold. This time it’s art and disability politics where I am conspicuous by lack of appearance. Reading other peoples news, reviews and points of view, I think, I wasn’t there (again). Why does this keep happening (if it does)? Am I any different (worse or better) from anyone else? Basically, I’m wondering if there is something wrong; with me.  Or maybe it is that my life is too damn...

Comments: 0

Two legs good enough. One leg irrelevant.

15 May 2012

Blog

Listed in DAO’s job opportunities is an advert by Peut-être Theatre. They’re looking for a disabled male dancer/actor for their next Xmas show for children, a dance-theatre version of Hans Christian Andersen's The Steadfast Tin Soldier. The ad says: ‘In the story the tin soldier only has one leg and so, to honour the story, we are hoping to work with a dancer who also only has one leg.’ I am wondering who will respond. I daresay some will jump (hop?) at the...

Comments: 4

Participation. Part I: The best show in town.

9 May 2012

Blog

Pencil sketch showing people sitting in various positions.

Community participation in the arts is flavour of the month. So while there’s funding, I'm making the most of it, grabbing every opportunity that comes my way. Workshops run by experienced practitioners are a fun way to learn new skills and develop confidence. Last week I took part in a badly advertised and poorly attended workshop in a cold and echoey local sports hall. It was brilliant! A professional facilitator (ex?), I'm the world's best participant. If I'm there it's because I want...

Comments: 1

Writing: pulling no punches.

6 May 2012

Blog

The word 'write' seen through a backdrop of clouds

In his blog Rich Downes asked what is writing? Really. I said, for me right now writing is like punching a hole in the fog that surrounds me. And then I thought, it's like having a pillow fight without the pillow case. My head is in another place, on another wave. I'm studying web design (a slow process) and currently  learning to use Adobe Flash (see example), which is amazing, but it means the wordy part of my brain keeps dozing off. I'm sure it's a blip. For now, however, this is the...

Comments: 1

Lost and found: An old school doodle.

29 April 2012

Blog

Doodle from my school days.

I’ve lived in so many places; I’m amazed anything important has survived. Drawings, oil paintings, sketch books - lost, stolen, destroyed (by me) or just gone… A few oil paintings were recently discovered in the form of two and a quarter inch square negatives. I hope to have these digitally rescued soon. The earliest surviving example of my artistic output is this scribble, from my skooldaze. I was about 12 years old. The picture (scanned and edited in Photoshop) shows the...

Comments: 2

Blogging: An opening-up activity.

11 April 2012

Blog

A picture of a clown-like figure, ladybird and teddy-bear.

Two friends wrote to me recently, after seeing my blog. Both are writers, sometimes stuck and not yet published. One wrote: "I've just kept the doors closed on so many things which I now find almost impossible to express … as if I always need to air my feelings and thoughts first to an objective person, to get their approval and permission to feel the way I do. …so difficult to get back into my writing … things I need to write about but feel far too inhibited."...

Comments: 2

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