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Colin Hambrook established Disability Arts Online in 2004. Since then he has been editing and maintaining the journal and its social media outlets. In his blog he comments on aspects of stuff going in within Disability Arts and the specific arts programmes Dao is engaged with.. as well being known to vent the occasional rant.

Artists Debating Identity

21 June 2009

Blog

photo of artist

In the 1990s LDAF used to organise debates, which, truth to tell, became circular arguments centering around the question of what is Disability Arts? We somehow never seemed to get beyond celebrating difference and protesting righteous indignation that nothing should be made about us without us. With disabled people at the helm the world was going to be a better place. Dissing the Social Model was tantamount to letting the side down and any critical debate was stifled by polemic disguised as...

Comments: 9

Getting into the groove ...

12 May 2009

Blog

I have been slowly getting myself back into the groove since getting back from Australia. Big thanks go to Jon Pratty for managing DAO in my absence. I saw some terrific work in Australia, met some great people and learnt a lot from the process about my journey through Disability Arts. On a personal level it has been a difficult time. At the beginning of this year my son began treading a similar journey to my own disability-wise - and it has made me reflect a lot on who I am and how I got here....

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Art of Difference

22 March 2009

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I attended a lot of cabaret performances at Art of Difference. The first reaction to being in Gasworks Arts Park was that it was like being at the Dada-Fest, which takes place in Liverpool every year – the big difference being that we were in the sun. However there are differences between Disability Arts and Deaf Arts culture in Melbourne and generally in the UK. Firstly, everything here is a lot more non-disabled led. On an organisational level, things possibly tend to run more smoothly...

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Touch Compass: The Sleep of Reason begets Monsters

17 March 2009

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photo of dance group

Harmonious Oddity – the triple bill by Touch Compass presented over the first three nights of the Art of Difference Festival began with a piece of Dance for Camera called The Picnic made in 2003. Imagine a bizarre Victorian garden party envisaged through the lens of Alice in Wonderlands' looking glass, peopled by an eclectic mix of strange folk. Playing with images of circus freak show, the piece was a highly polished, original and entertaining whirl around the theme of a pleasant summer...

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Touch Compass on the radar

14 March 2009

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I was very excited at the prospect of seeing Touch Compass, having met several of the artists from the programme whilst I was in Auckland where the company is based. Tim Turner, Rodney Bell and Suzanne Cowan all talked about their work with such passion and commitment. When disabled artists (or artists with disabilities as is the preferred term in Australia) take their work into a professional arena they are driven to give several hundred per cent. There is an extra determination needed....

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Art of Difference Festival: Melbourne 2009

12 March 2009

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photo of Just Us theatre company

Art of Difference is a disability and deaf arts festival produced by Gasworks in South Melbourne between 10 - 21 March 2009. I have the privilege of attending the first week of the festival and reporting on it for dao. Coming to grips with the size of Melbourne has been somewhat daunting after traveling through the relative smallness of Auckland and Wellington. I arrived from New Zealand late last Monday, tired and jet-lagged. I made it to the hotel bar to be greeted with a g-day by a guy named...

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Momentum09

28 February 2009

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photo of performer

Momentum has been a difficult occasion for everyone involved. Philip Patston described his experience of it as being like driving a ten ton truck and suddenly hitting black ice and careering out of control. I can’t imagine myself in his position, trying to keep faith and to keep face in the shock of having caused those people who had booked their flights in advance, to lose so much money. Many individuals lost their Arts Council funding to make the trip. We had a difficult welcome in...

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Auckland here I am ... just about

24 February 2009

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I am writing from Auckland, New Zealand. I'm lucky enough to have been invited out here for a shortened version of Momentum09 - set up and run by Philip Patston of diversityworks. It's been great meeting some of the disabled artists in the disability arts movement here and finding out about how the movement is working out here. The pace of life is so much slower and more relaxed, it seems ... I've met up with Pauline Alexander from the UK and we had a wonderful meeting with Tim Turner yesterday...

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Baptism of fire

1 December 2008

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Ink drawing of a knitted yellow boat sailing across a blue sea by Colin Hambrook

In many ways I feel as if I was born into Disability arts. I was drawn me into it with a baptism of fire and haven't looked back. At the time there weren’t many mental health survivors in Disability Arts – and there was a fair bit of debate about whether we belonged or not. My involvement was a natural progression, something I felt I could put my heart into, despite and maybe because of, how difficult and painful it can be at times. I could relate to the social model rhetoric...

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The Press continues to pick up on the BAFTA fiasco

17 February 2008

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It seems that the Guardian (Friday 15 February) has taken up our cause by publishing a very erudite piece by Mat Fraser championing disability film - ie film made by disabled people about disability. He cuts to the chase explaining exactly why we are fed up with Hollywood's persistent patronising, demeaning and sickly portrayals of disability. Mat lists some of his pet hates. Top of my list has to be 'A Beautiful Mind' starring Russell Crowe as a schizophrenic who has clearly watched 'Rainman'...

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BAFTA bans screening of one of X'08 films

4 February 2008

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When I sit down to write, it is rare that I know exactly what I’m going to say or how I’m going to frame it. I’ve run circles around myself over the last week thinking and making notes on scraps of paper [usually a pretty hopeless exercise as the notebook invariably gets lost]. I’m torn between issues and feelings. The fact is that I’m very cut up about the cutting of LDAF. I know that it has been struggling – like most if not all disability-led...

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Arts Council cuts

8 January 2008

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Digital image by Colin Hambrook

Well the New Year came in with some devastating news in terms of Arts Council funding. It appears that 194 arts organisations who are currently funded by Arts Council are being cut. Of the few disabled-led art organisations in existence, two are to be axed this coming April, both the National Disability Arts Forum (NDAF) and the London Disability Arts Forum (LDAF). The importance and relevance of disabled-led work cannot be under-estimated, both in terms of culture and equality of opportunity...

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December 2007

18 December 2007

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Digital image by Colin Hambrook

Okay we're heading for the end of 2007. It's been a monumental year for us at DAO, having finally got some recognition from Arts Council that we have something worth investing in. I have been a passionate advocate of Disability Arts for many years now and strongly believe that it has a place within the arts landscape which is worth taking note of ... I guess there is no telling how things will shift over the next few years. Certainly there has been much change during recent years, with more of...

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DAO Reader's Survey

20 November 2007

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I understand that reprobate Crippen's missus has become a blog widow! I'm not surprised. Jeni - do you realise I've got a proposal from him here - 500 words a month it says! He sure knows how to make his words count ... or should that be count his words!? Any road-up, I'm delighted to have Crippen on board. (yes I know I'm supposed to say that) His cartoons have been lighting up my life over this past month - which is just as well since I can't afford ligthbulbs at the...

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Colin Hambrook reviews Liz Carr's 'It hasn't happened yet'

4 November 2007

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Photograph of Liz Carr by Graeme Cooper

It's rare I get out and about on the Disability Circuit these days, what with the pressures of family life and constant ongoing health concerns. BUT I was very fortunate to catch Liz Carr at the Peoples' Show Studio in Bethnal Green at the end of the month. It was one of the most original, and definitely the funniest piece of disability theatre I've seen in years. It began with a few gags from the creative director telling the audience what a load of rubbish we'd come to see. I wasn't sure if...

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