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As well as being the director of DAO, Trish is also the project manager and co-producer for Freewheeling, the organisation producing Sue Austin's Unlimited commission 'Creating the Spectacle!' Here she blogs about her experiences of this ambitious, underwater wheelchair project.

Freewheeling gets into the hot seat with NASA's Mission Control

11 December 2013

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Our next ‘pinch me’ moment was mission control. The public tour takes a look at historic Mission Control, which was used for the Gemini and Apollo missions. Following that we then had the privilege of being shown the actual, live mission control. Similarly laid out, with several projection screens monitoring live information being beamed from the ISS, it was interesting to note that the work stations are now all on a wheelchair accessible level floor area, rather than the previous...

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Freewheeling leaps into space at NASA

9 December 2013

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photo of Trish Wheatley and underwater wheelchair artist Sue Austin pictured with astronaut Kate Rubins in her space suit

Sue Austin’s latest project, ‘In at the Deep End USA’ takes Freewheeling to the States to develop links with potential partners across the arts and sciences, exploring new opportunities to propel ‘Creating the Spectacle!’ and the underwater wheelchair into new dimensions. In 2012 we literally were thrown in at the deep end with how the artwork took off. This is our chance to capitalise on the approaches and connections that have been made since the Unlimited...

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Egypt 4 - Day 6

25 March 2013

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woman in wheelchair underwater in tropical sea with arms stretched out and coral in the background

Today is the day we need to get the final shots in the bag. We are back at Ras Bob and in the first dive have completed another 360 shoot. This time it was more challenging for me because the seabed slopes away with a fairly steep gradient and I have to remain at a level depth for the first part of the dive as Sue launches up from the sandy area and performs between two large coral heads. I use my dive computer on my wrist to monitor my depth carefully. It's a challenge for Sue as well because...

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Egypt 4 - Day 5

24 March 2013

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Sue in red t-shirt talks to tall man in stripey t-shirt with big tv camera in foreground

This was always going to be a different day. I woke up an hour before the alarm and got up to charge Sue's video camera and type up the blog from day 4. The Dutch TV crew arrived on time and we made our introductions: Pascala, the producer, Sander the presenter and Jim the cameraman. Sander is a keen diver so the program De Wandeling which airs on channel 2 in Holland is a great match for the project. We encountered problems at the jetty as the police wouldn't allow the big camera to be taken...

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Egypt 4 - Day 4

23 March 2013

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Sue reviews footage with Dan on the boat with the underwater camera in her hands

This week is going so quick! I think it must be a combination of knowing what to expect and the fact that we don't have olympic deadlines looming. Today we had two absolutely wonderful dives at Ras Nas Rani. It's on a headland about 30 minutes boat ride from Naama Bay where the jetty is. It's more relaxed when we have a longer boat ride in the morning, there is more time to get set up and plan the first dive, reviewing footage if necessary. In the first dive of the day I was...

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Egypt 4 - Day 3

22 March 2013

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Divers underwater: In foreground Trish holds the 360 rig, Sue in chair in background with other divers

Today is the day we need to start capturing some great shots. For the new films we are working with four different types of technology so we tend to try to get in the water for about half an hour at a time, splitting the dive into ten minute sections so we've been able to use 3 of the different camera rigs in any session. It's now just after lunch and we've been reviewing footage on the laptop from Dan's Nikon DSLR. The light and colours are beautiful so we plan to return to...

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Egypt 4 - Day 2

21 March 2013

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Sue Austin in red Creating the spectacle T-shirt, in front of Camel Dive Centre

Yesterday evening when we got back from the boat Sue and I received a Skype call from a producer who works for Dutch Public Television. Sue is to be profiled on a half hour programme called 'The Walk'. The crew of three will be arriving on Friday evening and coming for a day's filming on Saturday. Today I am keeping in mind the most appropriate sites to take them to experience a typical day and some great dives.  We went to two new sites today: Ras Bob and White Knight. With...

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Egypt 4 - Day 1

20 March 2013

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Tiny almost see-through fish colonise a coral pinnacle

We arrived last night just as night fell over Sharm el Sheikh. Sue and I were so excited to see we would be back on Wasser (our dive boat for Egypt 1&3) with Cath and Tamer, our Egypt-based Freewheeling team members. As we sat outside the front of the hotel we reflected on being back, it's beginning to feel like another home here. Today is test day. It is a chance to make sure everything is set correctly on the underwater wheelchair and that the cameras are operating as expected....

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Trish jets off to Egypt with Sue Austin

19 March 2013

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Orange sunset taken over silhouetted desert from airplane

It's been 7 months since 'Creating the Spectacle!' was featured as part of the Unlimited Festival at London's Southbank Centre. It's about time I gave an update on what's been happening with Sue Austin and the Freewheeling team, rest assured we have not been idle. Sue returned to her MA at Plymouth University in early September without a break having received so much international press and media interest in 'Creating the Spectacle!'. We set aside the Autumn to...

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We Created a Spectacle! Part 2

17 September 2012

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'Creating the Spectacle!' performance poster

The following day we realised it had captured the imagination of people all over the world as Sue was inundated with requests for interviews. Gillian Taylor and Claire Bromley of Arts Council South West did a sterling job of co-ordinating the media interest whilst allowing Sue the important time to prepare for the second and final performance. The Friday performance was much smoother and I was able to watch from in the water. The lighting was truly stunning. No rest for the wicked and at 6am...

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We Created a Spectacle! Part 1

7 September 2012

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'Creating the Spectacle!' performance poster

It has been a whirlwind of rehearsals, logistical preparation, unexpectedly high levels of media interest, nervous, exciting and emotional performances and recognising that 'Creating the Spectacle!' is much bigger than any of us had anticipated. It has been such a hectic time that this blog has simply had to wait while we make quick financial decisions and prepare for this unique series of events that have pushed all of the Freewheeling team to the limits both physically and...

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As the audience grows Trish shares her thoughts on Sue Austin's 'Creating the Spectacle!' and its success an as artwork

23 July 2012

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Side-on view of woman in wheelchair in tropical sea wearing summer. Her arms stretched out and looking up to the surface. Coral in the foreground and a shoal of fish in middle ground across the whole image.

It's a week since we returned from our final filming trip to Egypt and things are really gearing up now for 'Creating the Spectacle!'. We had a double page spread in the Independent on Sunday magazine which really boosted our profile and it featured one of Norman's stunning photos of Sue in the underwater wheelchair in the red sea. This week we are getting the final edit together for footage in preparation for films to be shown at our events, online and at the live site in...

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Trish finally gets around to blogging about Egypt!

17 April 2012

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Group of 10 people in red t-shirts

It is a month today since the 8-strong Freewheeling team flew out to Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt to film the underwater wheelchair in the Red Sea. There was a mixed sense of exhaustion from the weeks of preparation to get to this point and the unbelievable excitement that we had finally made it to this landmark point in 'Creating the Spectacle!'. Scuba Travel had organised great flights and as much leeway on our excess baggage as we could possibly get away with, and yes there was...

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An open invitation to all artists, writers and disability arts commentators!

24 November 2011

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We are currently planning a funding bid. At the core of what we want to do is to commission a mixture of creative and journalistic responses to the cultural activities during the whole of 2012. We aim to work closely, in partnership with some key arts organisations and festivals across the country. At the heart of the activity we want to embed artists / writers in residence to respond creatively to events and programmes happening within those organisations. We are open for all ideas at this...

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Trish sits back and reflects on the preparations for ‘Creating the Spectacle!’ at the Chesil Bank and Fleet Nature Reserve, Dorset.

12 October 2011

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Film still from documentation of test dive at Fleet Lagoon.

We turned into the Fathom and Blues car park at lunchtime to a moody sky and brisk North-Westerly wind. Today was another day in this weird and wonderful life I am living as part of the creative team for Sue Austin’s Unlimited commission ‘Creating the Spectacle!’. As autumn sets in and the days become ever shorter I was a reluctant support diver. In fact, when it came to dive time in the late afternoon I felt the need to be a dry, warm, out of the water surface support person...

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Light Relief - Trish takes a few minutes break from funding applications to give an update on this month at DAO.

6 October 2011

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Image of group of bronze figures stood holding hands

So far I’m managing one blog per month in a very hectic schedule. Report card so far then? Ok, but could do better! With the Autumn brings pressures on fundraising. As most of the readers I’m sure are aware, the pressures of funding in the arts and especially Disability Arts are very high and DAO, like any other organisation needs those funds to survive. So, over the coming weeks, I’ll have my head down writing as many funding applications as I can to ensure that we can...

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Hard work and high expectations - Trish reflects on her expectations of the 2011 decibel Performing Arts Showcase

11 September 2011

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I've got to be honest, I'm pretty tired after last week. We had some long days putting the Creative Case for Diversity website together ready for the symposium tomorrow. That said, I am now sat on the train London-bound to meet Colin for our week-long coverage of the decibel Performing Arts Showcase in Manchester and I'm excited. I've never been to Showcase before but after attending planning meetings with Arts Council and reading reports from previous years, I've got high expectations. Not...

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Sue Austin makes a splash in Weymouth

5 August 2011

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I work part-time for DAO three days per week. The other two working days are occupied with Freewheeling, the artist-led initiative that Sue Austin and I have developed over the last year. Freewheeling’s current project is an ambitious one to say the least! We are bringing Sue’s concept of a self-propelled underwater wheelchair alive through a series of filmed and live performances for the Cultural Olympiad in Weymouth.  Thanks to Arts Council South West’s innovative...

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Trish Wheately, DAOs new director introduces herself

22 July 2011

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photo of trish wheatley

I’m a Dorset girl through and through. I was born here and am based here. It was here that I was introduced to Disability Arts in fantastic fashion, as a then recent photography graduate from art school in Wales, when I landed a job at Holton Lee in 2005. I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction. I had the chance to meet many disabled artists through curating the contemporary arts programme, working intensely to develop the National Disability Arts Collection and Archive,...

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