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Artist and wordsmith, whose work engages with issues of access, from acknowledged physical needs to perceived symbolic exclusions. After being selected as one of DAO's New Voices in 2011, Gini's online presence has become an integral part of her arts practice

Accessible London theatre?

1 March 2015

Blog

a close-up image of the warhorse head in chestnut brown against a black background. The external framework is clearly visible, with a leather bridle and an open, lifelike eye

Seeing the 25th February news item on Dao, the first thing that struck me was a sense of excitement. The promotional video showed prominent images of Warhorse - actually showing at the New London Theatre. My own experience of just that, was not the best. Maybe things have improved?  A chaos of milling customers had made it difficult to find out exactly how I was to gain access to the New London Theatre. Without ambulant help I might not have discovered that wheelchair access was around the...

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Tokyo Christmas and New Year - happy New Year: 'Akemashite omedetou!'

1 January 2015

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Another version of Kadomatsu, this smaller one has the traditional pine branches and the three bamboo stems wrapped in straw that gives the image of a bucket or pot with a straw mat. An orange and 'corn doily' are attached. This pair of Kadomatsu ste outs

Our New Year shellfish made disturbing flips and wriggles on its way to the pot. Homemade sushi, slices of raw fish, scallops, sea urchin and salad completed our meal. There was hardly room for the soba just before midnight. We had symbolic portions. Even so it was hard to think about sleeping. I dozed and woke in time to watch the day dawning. Actual sunrise is not visible from the apartment, but dawn sky is frequently glorious. Today's blue sky sinks into clouds of gold that darken...

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Tokyo Christmas and New Year - a family affair

31 December 2014

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a pair of Kadomatsu, traditional New Year symbolic decoration of pine branches, bamboo and straw standing out side the entrance to a shop, flanking a corn dolly style message above the door.

End of year day and a holiday. The festive air is infectious. There will be celebration events all over the city. People will be out partying but many families will be staying home to watch the traditional marathon tv singing contest.  As the year changes bells will strike 108 times and at some temples visitors are invited join in with the ringing. Around a million people will pass through the Meji shrine as it is the custom to offer wishes and prayers in the first five days of the New...

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Tokyo Christmas and New Year - clear separation

30 December 2014

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The white sheep in the Wako department store window sit on white balls, like giant snowballs, with there backs to the audience. The golden curls of their horns and the yellow-gold setting are the only colour.

Swirls of coloured lights decorate the abundant planting in the streets. Good luck messages flash from the hoardings. The end of the year is fast approaching. The Wako department store window has the usual crowds standing in admiration, blocking access to the pavement. This New Year's display constists of white sheep, with golden horns, lined up and facing the back of the window. Suddenly one of the sheep swivels around to peer out at the crowd. Passing pedestrians make sudden stop and...

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Tokyo Christmas and New Year - lucky sheep

29 December 2014

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On a small dark wood tray sit simple representations of the twelve zodiac animals, most of them are white and crudely decorated

  One of our Christmas day deliveries was the bunch of New Year flowers. An assortment of yellow blooms with greenery, including the all important branch of a pine tree. Traditional beliefs held that the gods visited the earth at this important time and lived in the pines trees until the New Year.  Good wishes for the New Year arrive frequently and include plaited rice stalks or straw, rather like a corn dolly, with good luck messages and prayers, which we hang on the front door. Big...

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Tokyo Christmas and New Year - last day for a lucky outcome.

28 December 2014

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A dark background, the door, with the traditional 'corn-dolly style' rice decoration ( this one looking a little like a western-style angel) hanging on it

Today is the last day that I could consider beginning Tokyo New Year celebration blogging. The 29th is out - any number that includes a nine is bad luck and the 30th is just too late for showing any proper respect. Preparations are already well underway; anytime after 13th December it is ok to start gathering pine branches. Most firms have already held their End-of-Year staff parties and people are taking holiday and beginning to gather as families in festive mode. Free End-of-Year concerts...

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Tokyo Christmas and New Year - Christmas Day

25 December 2014

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A pinky- blue dawn with a tiny bit of Tokyo skyline. The buildings have a few lights, but it's earlyand people are sleeping.

Back to work for most people, the day starts with the delivery of some internet purchases; a modern version of Santa?  Merry Christmas. The light here is amazing! I have a suddenly refreshed insight into the utter necessity of Nordic Juletide festivities. Enduring the darkness of winter, the reemergence of the sun needs celebrating and the possibility of new light-provoked shoots and leaves needs every encouragement it can get. Here in Tokyo it might be cold, but light-dependant life...

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Tokyo Christmas and New Year - Juleaften

24 December 2014

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Close up of golden deep fried biscuit on a red, white and green Christmas napkin

Christmas Eve day, so light and bright, even if there are clouds in a less than perfectly blue sky. The klejner (Christmas biscuit) dough has rested in the fridge overnight, to be rolled out, cut, twisted and deep fried at this very late stage in the proceedings.  Everybody warns me that already tomorrow evening, latest the 26th, all signs of Christmas will be gone. New Year is the big unmissable event and preparations are already underway. Chinese New Year celebrations involve families...

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Tokyo Christmas and New Year - Emporer's birthday and Lille Juleaften

23 December 2014

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Close up of green Christmas tree with typically ScandiBrit red and white decorations.

Today is the Japanese Emporer's birthday, a public holiday, and for us, Little Christmas Eve. It is also light, bright and full of sunshine. Our Christmas cake has come together well, looks right and fills the apartment with just the right aromas, in spite of some interesting dried fruit substitutions. The final verdict will of course have to wait until 25th. Potato and butter shortages threaten to scupper the traditional ScandiBrit Christmas my family is accustomed to. The butter shortage,...

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Tokyo Christmas and New Year - seasonal scurrying

22 December 2014

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Purple and cream paper cut and plaited into a heart-shaped container with a thin purple ribbon handle to hang it up with; a traditional Danish tree decoration.

I've been on a most unJapanese mission to acquire the ingredients for an English Christmas cake. Not far from Tokyo station there is a shopping complex/department store with a baking/cooking ingredients and implements section on the first basement floor. Heading out into glorious sunshine and a bitingly cold wind, I'm surprised to pass incredibly long queues of Japanese people at bus stops and at, possibly, a lucky lottery ticket seller. There is a familiarity in the sight of...

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Tokyo Christmas and New Year - getting there

21 December 2014

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A handmade red woollen Julenisse, a Danish Christmas elf, with a white beard and a pointed red hat.

Here I am in Tokyo again and feeling lucky to be here. Each time I take to the skies there are obstacles to overcome. Every single time they are different; somebody somewhere has fun shaking up T&C's for the ideal knife edge experience every traveller longs for. The first thrill was that my ebooking was invisible to the airline flying the aircraft. Three companies were using this plane, each with their own system. I was advised to contact the plane owners 48 hours before the flight when...

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one day

12 December 2014

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a very simple handmade impression of a person, a body with stumpy legs; a smile and an x marking the belly-button; this is black Zambian clay baked in the African sun.

The more complex a society becomes, the more fully the law must take into account the diversity of the people who live in  it... (Margaret  Mead). One day in the future we will construct  the laws and the institutions of a modern, humane  society that will take real account of the people  who make, or potentially make, the communities within it. Right now we live in a  dark age every bit as horrific as  past  barbarics. The current 'one...

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Imagine...

11 November 2014

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A view of the plinth in Parliament Square, with its inscription 'Churchill', but without its statue

I wish to state, on oath, that the firm in question had no knowledge of any illegality. The documentation I produced was entirely fake. Similarly, Arts Council England are totally innocent of any wrong-doing - I was never awarded a grant for the repurposing of a London Landmark. I chose the firm because they are experienced in delivering, placing and removing statuary for temporary exhibitions as well as the permanent placement of public art. They were completely convinced by the volumes...

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Rolling with the Kafkaesque

3 November 2014

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On a black background two white figures face each other. They are Kosta, one of my life size soft sculpture figures and his mirror image. Kosta is suspended by a chain from the top of his scull. His naked body disolves into roots where his legs might othe

Of course I'm not a real person, I wouldn't want us to get off on the wrong footing. I'm not exactly a fictional character either, at least not a complete one. I realise that sounds a little fantastical, but I'm keen to explain. I'm more like a shadow, nothing sinister; I'm certainly nothing like a ghost, I wouldn't want you thinking shades or other figments of creepiness. I was created on paper, painstakingly written out as one whole, if somewhat bewildered,...

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Open letter to Ursula K Le Guin

24 October 2014

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Pen and ink drawing of an exageratedly cartooned witch complete with warts and wrinkles and a black cat. She stands infront of a hollow tree while a white mouse flees from the bottom right corner.

Dear Ursula, I'm hesitant to say this, but thank you... I think. There is every chance this will take you by surprise; it's what, ten years or more since you published the idea? (In 'The Wave in the Mind') But, you see, up until a few seconds ago I had no way of seeing it...so, thank you. Thank you for the concept of 'old woman'. I have been getting a bit anxious about the big black hole that looms on the horizon and feeling a bit out of control. I have spent time...

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Real people...

11 October 2014

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This quote from Vincent Van Gogh says 'normality is a paved road: its comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow on it' the random mix of upper and lower case black letters makes it a little hard to read. The words gradually fit into the the shape of the ba

Organising the conversations necessary for creating the Con.Text piece supporting the Arts and Health presentation Sue, Trish and I (with our LinkUpArts (LUA), hats on), made for Wilts. Council, was not the easiest task. Due to the timing, many of the relevant people were away on summer holidays. My connections to people who had themselves been educated in a special needs program, or to their parents and families was limited and mostly negative. Some of these people were now adults...

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Missing Arts and Health in Wiltshire.

4 October 2014

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This quote from John W Gardner reads: If a society hopes to acheive renewal it will have to a hospitable envireonment for men and women; it will also have to produce men and women with the capacity for self renewal. The words are not easy to read, not bei

The day dawned; Conference day and I was unable to be there. Before I headed off to Japan, Sue Austin and I had worked together on a LinkUpArts presentation piece for Wiltshire Council. We had held conversations with Philippa and Faith of the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) team in Trowbridge. And Sue had filmed. I researched, wrote, planned and held supporting conversations, designed artwork and edited the whole thing down to around fifteen minutes. I felt a...

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Arriving...

28 September 2014

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A mottled grey sky (looking faintly bluer on camera than in life), with a dark border, at the bottom, of waxy green leaves.

First class out, disgraceful class back. I did get apologies: one from cabin crew who had forgotten my requests, one from the Greeter for not keeping an eye on my welfare (on my journey back from Tokyo). But I was in too much pain to value them. My wheelchair arrived at the cabin door, together with an assistant to manage my crutches and the bags of wheelchair paraphernalia. I was then escorted to a waiting area very full of resigned Indian women in flowing saris waiting for airport...

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Leaving 

25 September 2014

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Photo of the slip cover on the back of a priority seat at Narita airport. The white cover is printed in black, with images of an elderly person, person on crutches, a pregnant woman and a person with a small child.

  On the metro, on the first part of my journey back to Narita airport, an elderly Japanese man showed an uncommon interest in my wheelchair; not that he spoke to me or met my eye. His gaze seemed fixated on the lower part of the chair. At Ueno, where I change for the Skyliner, he collared my ramp man and gave him instructions. The ramp man then proceeded to start altering the position of the little stabilising wheels at the back of my chair.  I was horrified. It took loud squeals of...

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Lee Mingwei and His Relations.

24 September 2014

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From the poster for the exhibition, this image shows the artist handing over a Gerbera to a female recipient. There is a text bubble with the words 'gift-giving

  I'm lucky to be able to do two Mori Arts Centre Exhibitions this visit. Opened on Saturday 20th September, Lee Mingwei and His Relations, is an interactive exhibition introducing projects from the last 20 years by this artist known for his participatory art. Take Part, Make Art he invites the public; the exhibition also aims to unfold the relationship between himself and artists from different times and different places including Hakuin, D.T. Suzuki, John Cage, Yves Klien and Ozawa...

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Marunouchi Brick Square with British architecture, Spanish chocolate, American pizza, Swiss-French art.

23 September 2014

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Blue sky in the background peeps between skyscapers of glass and white concrete, in the foreground a red brick and cast-concrete low-rise building fronted by a row of tall narrow trees all framed by the dark green foliage of more trees.

The British architect Josiah Condor designed the 1894 western-style building that houses Mitsubishi Ichigokan on two sides of Marunouchi Brick Square. I've admired the red brick and cast concrete structure from the outside and decided it was time to find out what this Tokyo museum had to offer. The current exhibition: 'Fire under the ice' by Felix Vallotton was either going to be ok or dreadful. Famous for his capacity to produce the great and the awful, the Swiss Vallotton has...

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Doing daily life in Tsukiji and Ginza

22 September 2014

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Close-up photo of the wellknown 'person in wheelchair' image reinterpreted as a raised silver cut-out on a white background wall. A solid rectangle joins the lower large wheel almost to the upper small circle, the head. The arm and the chairback are paral

Travelling with a smallish suitcase, mostly full of stuff to keep my body ticking over, and gifts, there is not much room for clothes. I get very fed-up with wearing the same stuff over and over. Today seemed just the day for a ladies lunch and for checking out some local fashion. We try a couple of sushi restaurants in Tsukiji, but they don't want me. The first says yes and then no, all smiles and welcoming body language, but saying my wheelchair will be inconvenient. The second has a very...

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Housebound in Tokyo

20 September 2014

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a two story building in corrigated tin cladding. It has 5 visible wooden balconies, one on the ground floor with rush matting drapped in front of whatever opening is behind it. There are lots of small plant pots with spiderplants and similar grassy things

My temperamentally clicking wheelchair has been whisked away and I sit frustrated watching the day pass by. It seemed like a good idea at the time - to get it properly checked out here by the maintenance guys at Yamaha. But the sun shines, the river calls, Tokyo hums gentle enticement. My chair is promised back by 10.00 tomorrow, batteries fully charged and ready to roll. Confined without my wheelchair, I need purpose to my day and I plan to draw. The photographing of low-rise Tokyo dwellings...

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Roppongi musings

19 September 2014

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Shop window in a car showroom, this photo shows a child`s blue pedal car and various blue and black branded accessories on a white background. The bonnet of a black Mercedes Benz is visible in the background

Another revisit, this time to the little restaurant in Roppongi that sells sushi and sashimi to make my mouth water. I have a bowl of rice with a selection of raw fish on top, not the most expensive item on the menu, but one that allows me to dream. And have I mentioned the wasabi? I would eat like this regularly. This is my first midday visit and the atmosphere is a little more subdued. At the next table I hear a Swede talking about working for the government, saying he has never had such...

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Kasairinkaikoen

18 September 2014

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A very blue image of water and sky; water, the infinity pool, taking up the bottom third of the view. The mist fountains mask the horizon and melt into the low lying white cloud. Three white masts with white sails are just visible peeking above the mist a

Kasairinkaikoen is the train station before Disneyland; Kasai Rinkai is a large park on the coast with access to the sea, containing Tokyo Sea Life, a great glass observation platform, a Ferris wheel, picnic areas, restaurants and some great places to sit and relax. Tokyo Sea Life, today's destination, is on three levels. The top one is circular with an offset glass observation /information dome. This circle is almost surrounded by an infinity pool that blends visually into the sea,...

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