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

Art-induced Confusion - another very personal reaction to an exhibition

15 March 2014

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Pen and black ink drawing of a Capercaillie displaying its tail feathers. The bird is a herbivore, but in my drawing the profiled beak looks more predatory.

Rolling through the empty Cathedral Close on a chilly grey morning, I was intrigued to see a delivery of large, assorted carved and uncarved stones. They were being steadfastly ignored by Frink's Walking Madonna, but I was curious and open to anticipation. Previous sculptures have, on the whole, worked well with the almost 800 year old building and the atmosphere of its surrounding Close. I wondered how long it would take to assemble the jumble strewn out over the grass. It was like being...

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'In search of emotional completeness and overflowing comprehension.'

7 March 2014

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In shiny pink letters on a blue background the fragmented words 'because I can' shine out.

I recently rolled around an exhibition I would be tempted to describe as invisible. I find this frustrating. To be surrounded by a body of work that says nothing to me (to the point of invisibility), is somehow creepy; a disturbing and unsettling experience.   I need art to make sense of the world; to expand and finesse the identity I call self and my relationship to those I call others. Through art I may grow into rich diversities of unknown. The artworks I am drawn to are works that...

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The Protest

19 February 2014

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hand written, fan shaped, black text on white paper: 'the truest measure of the justice of a system is the amount of protection it guarantees to the weakest' aung san suu kui

Straddling the pavement were three enormous Highway Maintenance vehicles. I could see them in the distance, and the crew of the first one watched me approach. 'Sneaking up on me like that, you almost killed me' one of them offered as I rolled passed them on my way into town.  I also passed half a dozen disabled acquaintances, with their family or friends, heading in other directions. The sun shone and it was business as usual in town. Arriving at the gathering point, I was a little...

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just being me

17 February 2014

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The words: 'our ability to treat one another as human beings is collapsing' and 'you think we are a civilisation moving forward? I'm sorry my friend we are not' appear in the red, white and blue flag colours on a dark background

Rolling slowly across the road, my powerchair's on the blink - again (I've had persistent recurring battery problems). I am in a lot of pain and cannot use my right arm, so when the bag and glove on my lap start sliding to the ground I am unable to take action.           A passing car stops behind me, an unseen voice asks if I need help and an approaching pedestrian comes close enough to retrieve my belongings; kneels and kindly enquires...

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All for one?

12 February 2014

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On a very dark grey background, the words 'this government claims it is issuing a fairer cheque to disabled people. A cheque they have no intention of honouring, but are in the process of returning stamped 'insufficient funds'

Daily I see examples of hero communities rescuing vulnerable neighbours from floods. Real proof that community still exists in this country. I also see these vulnerable people trusting their neighbours with their personal safety and in some cases with the safety of their homes. The fitter, healthier folk are donning their wellies and waders and mucking in. The institutions we might have assumed were responsible for our safety and welfare have been exposed as unready, unable and unwilling....

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Nice one Claire - Reith Lectures one week after

12 November 2013

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Nine clay tiles, in a whitish shade with scrambled words in dark spread across them to create a word puzzle.

I too have been listening (see Colin's more erudite editorial of 4th Nov. 2013) to the Reith Lectures ... maybe I was not listening well. I enjoyed the first one, Grayson Perry is entertaining even when I think some of his points are not very well made, or just contradictory enough that I can't pin him down. Maybe that influenced my perception of what I actually heard. In setting the scene for his lectures, he kindly offered us some of his own handy hints for defining art. What is art?...

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Returning Meditation

25 September 2013

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Photograph of black and white woven leather armour in Tokyo National Museum. Displayed in a glass case, it looks like a seated figure in a helmet. Only the absent face, fingers and feet reveal that it is empty.

Like a badly fitting wig, my days have slipped. The bright and sunny Japan mornings that greeted me at five-thirty, now brood in slow British darkness until almost seven. I shiver into lunchtimes, unhungry and confused. And the balmy evening dark that I expect to drop suddenly towards six, now lingers, seeping chill reluctantly into a day that has only just found warmth. Balmy being alien to its vocabulary, dark closes coldly around me from sevenish. Being back in British grey has yet to offer...

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Finally - Sky Tree

23 September 2013

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Photo of Sky Tree against a blue sky with drifts of white cloud looking up at the first viewing platforms. The highest platform is just visible as a dot at the top of the photo. The open metal structure is coated in Sky Tree White.

Last chance this visit and the day dawns sunny, with a blue sky and a hint of haze. My visit to Sky Tree is going ahead. We take the metro, just one change and we are soon at the SkyTree stop which is several floors above ground. It feels strange to take the elevator down to ground level.  The lower levels of Sky Tree are full of shops, restaurants, greenery and outside spaces. Up on the forth floor we get our 'pre-booking' tickets which inform us we can come back in approx two...

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Ring of Fire

21 September 2013

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Photograph of an open book, a museum exhibit with its label (Edo Period, 1781-89).  The book shows Japanese text on the left and an ink drawing of a humanoid water monster on the right.

Wanting to check out a restaurant in 'My Humble House', Ginza, I take a metro exit that I'm not familiar with. When the lift doors open at street level I discover I am in a bank, which does feel a little odd. But is an efficient use of space. 'My Humble House' is a small glass tower of restaurants and bars. The place I wish to try is Chinese. It looks very elegant and cool, with lots of black marble, but there are steps up to the table level. On my right the 2 steps are...

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Tokyo National Museum in Ueno Park.

20 September 2013

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Photo of two garments displayed in a glass case. There is a bad reflection on one, from light on the glass. The garments are a simple shape if coat displayed with a rod through the armholes. They are of a course, hemp-type fabric, in a natural 'dry-grass'

The last time I went to Ueno, I was asked if I had visited the park and I disappointed with my negative reply. This visit, the Tokyo National Museum is on my wish list and TNM sits in Ueno Park. Wearing two of the marvellously effective pain-relief patches I set out. The Park, with its museums, international art exhibitions and zoo, is a tourist magnet; the regular train station is opposite the entrance. Unfortunately the metro exit is on to the street underneath. I cross over the road to find...

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Quiet day by the river

19 September 2013

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Terracotta tiled steps lead up to a platform with this small shrine, a rather dark outline against a lighter background of tower blocks and bridge side. The shrine, in the form of a roofed structure, sits on a square granite slab atop a plinth. Pots of fl

Blue sky, clear with just a hint of autumn haze, greets me in the morning. Back pain and balloon hand have been with me all night. I guess this will be another quiet day. The temperatures are climbing back up into the 30's, but the air still has an autumn feel. For the first time since I have been here we switch off the air-con and open windows for the whole day. I watch the curtains breathing in the wind, if anything I am less mobile than yesterday. I get offered a skin patch to reduce...

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Man-Yi and my Stroll around the Block

18 September 2013

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Photograph looking down into a small walled balcony/roof garden. Left and right are trees and plants, against the far wall are two tables with a golden Buddha, and two other statuettes of spiritual entities. They share the space with lines of washing. 

Sky Tree's viewing platform cannot compete with Man-Yi, the typhoon buffeting and flooding Japan with heavy rain. Wild gusts of wind, up to 130 kph, have visible impact on trees and plants and the assorted container gardens so prolific in local streets and balconies. The forecast predicts around 30 cms of rain, with the possibility of power outages and some structural damage as the eye of the storm passes close to Tokyo. In southern Japan there are warnings of landslides.  Man-Yi's...

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Autumnal Influences - Colours of Cherry

17 September 2013

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Four leaves from a cherry tree laid out on a light wooden floor. The photograph shows their autumn colours from green through yellow, orange, red and brown.

Typically the day of my planned Sky Tree visit, it rains. Early morning thunder is accompanied by sheets of vertical water that obscure visibility and never quite relinquish their hold on the morning. Plus endless rolling black cloud sitting low in the sky. By 14.00 when it really is too late, we have blue sky and sunshine and an alternative plan. Tokyo Hands is permanently on my wish list, the one in Shinjuku having a great selection of craft and DIY stuff perfect for arts and installations....

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Revisiting Tsukiji and Hibiya koen - I am my Memories.

16 September 2013

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Photo of a view of Sumida from one of the bridges. In the foreground an expanse of dark blue water just before the river forks. The walkway on the left bank is hinted at by greenery, but mostly the river appears surrounded by tower blocks and skyscrapers.

Sushi in Tsukiji (another re-visit), was very good. We followed again the old route alongside Sumida and enjoyed the autumn sun. It felt hotter than yesterday and the air was heavy and still. There seems to me to be something gentle and old fashioned about Tsukiji that I guess will disappear when the Olympic building program gets up to speed; meanwhile, I shall enjoy it while I can. Enjoying the raw fish as I do, I take great interest in my sushi selection. This time there was sea urchin,...

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Shock (urban renewal), Outrage (foreign prejudice) and glitter boots...

15 September 2013

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Photograph of metal lift doors adorned with the familiar blue and white wheelchair-person logo above similar of an adult pushing a baby in a buggy. While the adult is probably female, it could just be a man in a coat...

An easy day, revisiting old haunts and tracing my way back along the banks of the river. It sounds easy, but in the constant renewal that is Tokyo, certain 'landmark' buildings along my remembered route are now flat ground awaiting redevelopment. I was aware of this, but being here, seeing the sudden open spaces, the wounds in the bare earth, actually feels rather shocking. A lot of new roadworks mean the plentiful traffic controllers are frequently moving cones to widen my pathway...

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Colour Hunting - interactive.

14 September 2013

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Photograph of meticulously cut, long strips of step-died indigo muslin-like cloth waving in the breeze. The strips are attached at the top to a sturdy bare-wood open structure via small spherical glass 'bells' that chime as the cloth moves.

Color-hunting, 21_21 Design Sight. Roppongi, 21 June - 6 October 2013 'Exhibition director Dai Fujiwara invented "color-hunting," a design method inspired by his personal research of design. The act of capturing actual colors in the natural and urban environment and reproducing them on a piece of paper by mixing watercolors on the spot is literally "hunt" for color. Design rooted in color-hunting embraces the power to convey and spread meanings and stories of color to...

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Life in a day of......Mellow fruitfulness, autumn gold and Sky Tree white.

13 September 2013

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Photograph from one of the bridges over the river Sumida, with a vast expanse of blue sky and Sky Tree, at 634m high a small spike in the distance. Mid ground shows tower blocks on the left and another bridge over the river while the foreground has lamp p

  A warm autumn afternoon and time for food shopping. There is a well-stocked little supermarket in River City, in itself a green and pleasant place humming alongside a gentle curve of the tidal river Sumida. Inside, I marvel at the variety of mushrooms on offer, the sheer size of the (deliciously different tasting) grapes and the large, perfectly formed apples and round golden pears. Aisles of mystery offer shapes and colours resembling no food I know. The fish sparkles so fresh I almost...

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Why Not Live For Art?

12 September 2013

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Poster for the exhibition, posing the question Why Not Live for Art? and a row of other questions, each on its own coloured strip. Colours range from a burnt orange through yellow purple, turquoise and blue. All three alphabets are being utilised in the b

Why Not Live For Art? Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery. Saturday, 13 July - Sunday, 23 September, 2013. In 2004 the Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery created an exhibition to explore collecting Art. Japanese people, more used to viewing art than owning it, were beginning to collect and the exhibition aimed to highlight and encourage the phenomenon.  Not quite ten years later the gallery revisits the idea with the treasures of nine new collectors, so I'm off to Shinjuku, via the metro, to...

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The Games People Play

11 September 2013

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Photographic view into the glass atrium of Tokyo International Forum from the accessible end. There are the wooden slats on the right and a dark ceiling against a bright triangle of glass filtered light.

The weekend that Tokyo got selected for the 2020 Olympic/Paralympic Games, was one of celebration. When I got here I couldn't escape the giant posters with the ring of stylised flowers, the official Olympic logo and writ large: Tokyo Candidate City.  However, on the BBC I read that one of the factors counting against Tokyo's selection was an apparent lack of enthusiasm among the people. I wonder where they were looking/asking? Tokyo was eagerly hoping to host 2016, had in fact...

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Kabuki - the ultimate in accessible theatre?

10 September 2013

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Colourful photo of the promotional leaflet featuring close-up portraits of the seven main actors in costume, wigs and the traditional white face, red and black make-up.

The day for Kabuki arrived and we took the metro to Higashi-Ginza; my Kabuki experience began at the station. Getting off the train at Kabuki Plaza there are pillars of wonderful posters and folk in various degrees of finery. There are stalls with food, souvenirs and people milling about everywhere. We collected our tickets and strolled around a little before taking the elevator to ground level to enter the theatre. We were met and escorted to the counter for renting the English audio...

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Making Sense of Different.

9 September 2013

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A sunny-day photo of one of the main roads through Ginza, closed to traffic for several hours each weekend. Blue garden umbrellas, tables and occupied chairs in the middle of the road. A tall glass building with slim, white, vertical stripes of concrete,

The wet weather has caught up with me. The morning was spent watching gallons of rain bucketing out of the sky and the planned sashimi in the Ginza district of Tokyo was replaced by a takeaway version. I was surprised to see the delivery in gold-decorated, black lacquered wooden bowls, with utensils, on a black wooden tray and accompanied by a stainless steel thermos flask of soup.  The food was delicious and one leaves the empty stuff, in the bag provided, down in the entrance lobby where...

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Tropical Storm, Earthquake and Underground Tunnels.

8 September 2013

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A calm and sunny photograph of the path down to the river. The red-brick paving, a little too steep and uneven for my wheelchair, curves left beside topiary bushes and under the leafy tunnel of tree branches

TV news was showing images of tropical weather system hitting other parts of Japan. Pictures of flooding and ruined buildings, of people battling the elements and of the clean-up, with electricity supples being restored and people being offered emergency food parcels. More wind, rain and flooding was expected. And suddenly everything was shaking; the floor, the furniture, me. The whole building was shaking and everything in it. I'm in a different, newer building this year, it seems to move...

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Yokohama old Chinatown v new Life Entertainment Mall

7 September 2013

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A photo view into Chinatown, including power lines. Typically present on Japanese streets are leaning poles with a mass of heavy, black power cables connecting up homes and businesses. The poles in Chinatown are painted red.

I'm heading out again for Yokohama - visits to Japan would not be complete without my annual pilgrimage to its Chinatown. We make a stop at Minato Mirai to check out Mark Is, the new Life Entertainment Mall. It has 30 rest and relaxation areas (for adults and children) a fruit orchard and vegetable garden on the roof with workshops and hands-on gardening experiences; a natural experiences museum and like all the new shopping malls it has art exhibition space. It also links directly to...

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On attitudes to diversity...

6 September 2013

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Photo of a glass roof decorated with red dots, from which hangs a green swing with a doll/ child figure in a red dress with white polka-dots. She has yellow skin also with white dots, blue and black spotted shoes and a black and red spotted pudding-basin

The Roppongi Art Triangle is a favourite destination, but each Japan visit I also go to Roppongi Crossing to attempt a new pay-as-you-go SIM card for my Japanese phone. It's a frustrating experience, but I persevere. I have to bring my passport. And every year it is rejected because it does not contain my address. My driving license is not acceptable.  I roll into the SoftBank (phone) shop and explain my need to a young man who listens, nods, says this sounds possible and issues me...

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Vinoly - Tokyo to Battersea

5 September 2013

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In this photograph, looking up at blue sky from the inside of Vinoly's glass atrium one gets a magnificent view of the curved white steel beams that give this space a hint of the nautical

Today we stroll into Tokyo Station area, its not quite so hot - 36C that somehow feels a little easier than yesterday's 37C. The idea is to take a roundabout route to Tokyo International Forum - an impressive piece of architecture that I have passed many times but not ventured in to. There are exhibitions here, but today I want just to explore the creation of Raphael Vinoly (the architect whose design for the long awaited redevelopment of Battersea Power Station is predicted to be completed...

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