Disability Arts Online

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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

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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LeavingĀ 

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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Playing with words and rolling the terminal roof in Yokohama.

17 September 2014

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looking down on the wood-clad roof/floor of the terminal building at people sunbathing, relaxing and promenading. Looking inland with Yokohama skyline as a backdrop, you can just fit glimpses of blue sea on each side of the building.In white paint on the

Yokohama is also a familiar destination, the annual visit to its Chinatown being a regular enticement. Sadly this year our favourite dim sum restaurant has closed. Friends choosing the alternative venue are carnivores and simply don't understand eating without meat. But one of them has spent time in a wheelchair and has an understanding of access requirements. Shopping for strange Chinese goods is part of the deal, browsing the two main, crowded streets, is fascinating and as usual the...

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On walking wheels in Ginza...

16 September 2014

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This is a photograph of two telephone booths, one twice as wide as the other. they are both black metal framed with lots of glass. The door of the wider both does not extend to the ground, but stops about 3/4 of the way down. the handle is close to the bo

A visit or so ago I discovered the most sparkly wheelchair on display on the designer floor of a Tokyo department store. I attempted to enquire about this diamanté encrusted spectacle, but could find no-one able to tell me more. I kept an eye on the space. The chair disappeared for a while, but now it's back together with the words 'walking chair' - I'm thinking about that... Not one day goes by without seeing someone with a visible disability out on the streets,...

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Distractions on my way to the Imperial Palace.

15 September 2014

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This two story home is a mix of weathered wood and yellow painted concrete or stone. A lot of greenery, mostly Fatsia Japonica, grows around the entrance along a short crazy paved path. there is a confusion of rooflines, on the ground floor a wood clad sh

The day after the torrential downpour dawns with blue skies and sunshine. Tempting fate I plan to head in the direction of the Imperial Palace to find the National Museum of Modern Art. On all previous attempts it has rained and I've turned back because it has been serious rain, rather like that we've experienced recently... Today the sky is clear and the temperature comfortably in the high twenties. Heading out I take a small detour - spotting a wonderful small building for my photo...

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On missing Unlimited 2014

14 September 2014

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Photographed through some railings this green, street notice board, besides some current information posters, also explains where the nearest safe evacuation point is: Tsukuda River City Area.

Today the ocean seems to be falling out of the sky. Wheeling out is ill advised. Having blogged my distress at missing Unlimited 2014, I have tried to follow what I can from Tokyo, which of course means Dao blogs and reviews. Today is a good day for catching up, sorting my growing collection of photos and doing some rather neglected drawing. I have really enjoyed the video blogs from Colin and Tony and from Sue Austin (10th September 2014) The added atmosphere of Sue's busy Southbank...

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Tokyo Disney celebrates Halloween.

13 September 2014

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This dark blue image, with the moon visible in the background, shows two life-size plastic cartoon horses pulling an old fashioned spooky-looking coach driven by a disney ghost.The coach wheels have green lights, the horses orange ang black livery, but th

I'm not a Disney person so I've never minded being the only person in my world who'd never tried a Disneyland, anywhere. Today that changed when we decided to check out this very popular Tokyo destination. The weather forecast predicted rain, people muttered, 'typhoon season' but the day looked ok; the metro to Tokyo Disney takes about 15 minutes from the centre of Tokyo. Actually it was a toss up between Disneyland and Disney-sea, Disneyland being the same the world...

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Tokyo: megalopolis of city-villages.

12 September 2014

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Looking into a small allyway at a very battered little building with broken panes in a groundfloor front of small wooden windows. There are blue balconies on the first/top floor of what looks like two dwellings. Outside the variety of green plants include

I've been on a photographic hunt for the little tin and wooden buildings that are disappearing from Tokyo. Today I watched the demolition of one. It was on top of another one story building and made mostly of wood and just streets away from the busy carriageways that contain everything bar strictly local traffic. The site is being cleared for development and I had already noticed that one such building had gone from this particular patch. I pause to watch. The buildings appear to be...

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Rain, climate change and dengue fever.

11 September 2014

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Hanging in the trees above our heads are small triangular, green plastic boxes. Perhaps 20cms long and open ended they look like something used for monitoring wildlife. the one in this picture catches the light from thr flash on my camera. Behind the tree

The rain held off until the evening when it torrented down and the forecast thunder arrived. In the morning the streets were full of blossoming plants, it felt a bit like being in Africa . I saw blossom I'd never seen in Tokyo before and exotics like Cannas, that I've only ever seen here in rather tired leaf, now green and gorgeous with giant red and orange blossom. Big purple flowers of Morning Glory scrambled over everything. Masses of purple and white spiked liriope and small...

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Rainbow Bridge, Venus Fort and Tokyo Beach.

10 September 2014

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Walking to Shiodome station from home was a first; we would normally take the metro to Ginza and have a shorter walk, so we made the mistake of being on the wrong side of the road. There are steps and even an escalator, but no wheelchair access to the bridges that cross the multi layered dual carriageway. In this district life, including the train station, happens from the second floor up, so we backtracked to find an elevator. The plan was to cross the Rainbow Bridge to Odaiba, have some...

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Rainbow Bridge, Venus Fort and Tokyo Beach.

10 September 2014

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this picture of a shrink wrapped couple from the Image-Makers exhibition, shows two people curled around the wheels of a bicycle. The wheels are decorated with colourful printed cards, comics etc. the shimano gear wheel and a pedal are visible. The woman

  Walking to Shiodome station from home was a first; we would normally take the metro to Ginza and have a shorter walk, so we made the mistake of being on the wrong side of the road. There are steps and even an escalator, but no wheelchair access to the bridges that cross the multi layered dual carriageway. In this district life, including the train station, happens from the second floor up, so we backtracked to find an elevator. The plan was to cross the Rainbow Bridge to Odaiba, have...

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Image making, image watching in Ginza

9 September 2014

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In a darkened room the red white and yellow triangles of `Gace Jones Maternity Dress` stand out against the blue back wall. In the forgrund two brightly lit, strangely attired automatons whirl on circular tracks. The larger, black-clad in a metal-hooped s

Image Makers set me thinking... Is it true that you are what you wear? That your appearance is who you aspire to be? We try to express our personality and individuality by presenting ourselves in clothes we make choices and conscious decisions about; following fashion, following brands and following celebrities - 'I shop, therefore I am' I personally find that my clothes level me out. They cut off those 'Grace Jones' dramatic moments and blurr over the black dog days by...

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21_21 Tokyo, Image-Makers

8 September 2014

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This black and white video portrait of Gao Zinglian in a dark narrow corrodor mirrors fuzzy purple in the rough polished concrete walls on each side of it. Gao Xinglian`s eyes are closed, his mouth very slightly open and his bald image is cropped at the c

21_21 Design is another of my favourite Tokyo places. The exhibitions in this gallery are always something special. Image-Makers is no exception; featuring work by Jean-Paul Goude, Jun Miyake, Robert Wilson, David Lynch, Noritaka Takehana and Photographer Hal, Image-Makers is directed by Helene Kelmachter. Grace Jones and Bjork feature on the poster and in the works of Jean-Paul Goude together with drawings and kinetic sculptures. As you enter the first exhibition space you are greeted with...

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Same Procedure as Last Time

7 September 2014

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sitting in the platform lift I photographer the man holding the controls and the man with the ramp approaching. the metro is empty of trains, but a few Japanese commuters are on the platform. On the central platform columbs are instructions like no rushin

At my local Tokyo metro station I flick my Passmo plastic on the screen to get through the wider accessible  gate and catch the eye of the guy in the info booth. I wait, carefully out of the way of streaming commuters, while the ramp man does his checks. He unpacks the ancient-looking platform lift that will transport me down the two flights of steps. He has stopped panicking when I reverse in, but still demands 'braki oni' when he forgets our unspoken agreement to just watch me...

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On map reading, access and whiskey for the soul.

6 September 2014

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This colourful poster from the shrine has a black background, text and five small images on the left and on the right bold traditional style drawings of rather scary looking characters, one black, one white. A large Japanese written character fills the bo

A last minute change saw me at Ichigaya station with a fallen through plan. Ten minutes away is the infamous Yasukuni Shrine and I decided to go there. The shrine is a memorial to the two and half million people: both Japanese and foreigners, men, women and children, who, over more than a hundred years, have given their lives in the service of the Emperor. It gets about five million visitors a year. I need to cross a river, it's banks are incredibly steep and it is the greenest river...

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'Takehiko Inoue interprets Gaudi's Universe'

5 September 2014

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Eyes to lips of a mustachioed, monochrome Inoue form the upper part of this poster. The five spires of Sagrada Familia against a blue Barcelona sky fill the bottom three quarters, overlaid with white, spidery Japanese text.

The versatile interior space of the Mori Museum Arts Centre Galleries on the 53rd floor of the 54 story Mori Tower in Roppongi, was designed by the architect Richard Gluckman. On my first visit I found the title 'museum' confusing, as it does not exhibit a permanent collection but rather temporary exhibitions of works by contemporary artists. I have come to look forward to the exhibitions I catch here, and make peace with ones I will miss. The current exhibition 'Takehiko Inoue...

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