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Colin Hambrook:Editorial - disability arts online
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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.

Some reflections on DaDaFest International Congress 2014

10 December 2014

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photo of Krip Hop writer and performer Leroy Moore

Firstly, many thanks to Ruth Gould and her brilliant team at DaDaFest in Liverpool for inviting Dao to be a part of what must be one of the most important International Festivals of Disability Arts in the world. It was a powerful feeling to be part of a Congress of disabled artists from different parts of the globe coming together to share work, process, experience and ideas. In the UK our sense of being part of a disability arts community has been fairly battered over the last decade or so...

Comments: 0

Figures: A new project to make visible the human cost of austerity

28 November 2014

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a photo of a series of crude figures made of clay

Roaring Girl Productions and artist-activist Liz Crow are launching a new project. Figures is a mass-sculptural performance that is setting out to make visible the stark human cost of austerity and urge action against it. The intention behind the project is to build strong emotional connections with difficult facts in order to encourage deep public questioning and debate that will continue long after the work is over. Over a period of 12 consecutive days and nights, on the foreshore of the...

Comments: 0

Disability Arts versus Pudsey Bear

17 November 2014

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photo of a packet of Pudsey Bear sweets, sold on a train as part of a BBC marketing campaign

I often ask myself what is the point of Disability Arts? Every board meeting we have discussions about how we are swimming against a tide in our desire to raise the stakes for equality for disabled people. The attitudes that keep us in chains abound everywhere we look and our small attempts to challenge collectively are consistently ignored. Just last week we suffered the BBC’s annual celebration of everything Tragic but Brave in which Pudsey Bear struts his stuff to let the world know...

Comments: 4

To define or not to define: the dirty 'disability' word

27 October 2014

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photo of three images of the artist throwing an artificial leg at a pyramid of collecting cans

A stimulating discussion unfolded on Dao’s FB group last week in response to the Shape Open Exhibition, which was launched at Shape’s Gallery in Westfield Shopping Centre, Stratford last week. The call-out for Shape’s annual Open Exhibition was for the third year opened out to disabled and to non-disabled artists specifically asking for work on the theme of [in]visible. The question posed was whether Shape should be supporting work by artists who didn’t necessarily see...

Comments: 7

Mad Genius?

7 October 2014

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painting of a young man with long flowing hair, bare chested, holds a stringed instrument in his left hand, while looking way to the left with a soulful expression

The Basement in Brighton who produce the SICK! Festival are putting on a series of events, debates, forums and performance to mark World Mental Health Day. I've been asked to be part of a panel discussion on the concept of the Mad Genius, so I thought I'd post a precis of what's been going through my mind. The dictionary definition of ‘genius’ is “an exceptional natural capacity of intellect, especially as shown in creative and original work in science, art,...

Comments: 2

Should disability arts reflect society?

30 September 2014

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black and white photo of French poet and theatre innovator Antonin Artaud

I very much see Dao as a bridge between the aspirations of the Disability Rights based, Disability Arts Movement of old and the current, confused notion of disability arts, which draws largely from the inclusion agenda, and seeks to encourage disabled artists to work professionally within the Arts. Back in 1989 Allan Sutherland wrote an essay for DAIL Magazine ‘Disability Arts, Disability Politics’. He said “I don’t think disability arts would have been possible without...

Comments: 4

In Memoriam: For Dao Poet Richard Longstaff

15 September 2014

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photo of a bright red / orange butterfly with thick black lines and white circular spots delineating areas across its wings

On Saturday 6 September Richard Longstaff’s wife Rachel rang to say that he had passed away, peacefully with his family beside him. Richard first told me the devastating news of the cancer at the beginning of last June. And it was soon evident that it was terminal. The last time we spoke was just over four weeks ago. He hoped to write some more for Dao, but the pain and exhaustion from the illness had made it impossible.  My sincerest condolences go out to Rachel and to their...

Comments: 4

Together! Pop-up Poetry Cafe in Newham host a Dao poets event

23 August 2014

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drawing of a bald head with lots of rooms pictured inside the skull

I’ve been working hard behind the scenes developing Dao’s performance poetry presence, applying to produce our own gigs and recommending Dao poets to other producers. We did a gig last May at DAiSy Fest with Allan Sutherland and Penny Pepper. I'd like to extend a big thank you to the Together! Pop-up Poetry cafe at the amazing House Mill, on Three Mills Island, for hosting myself, Wendy Young and Bonk for an evening of poetry performance. We performed in the cafe to 30-40...

Comments: 0

Congratulations to Mat Fraser for the recent award given to Cabinet Of Curiosities: but isn’t Disability being firmly put back in a box?

16 June 2014

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photo of performing artist Mat Fraser standing in front of a series of shelves containing prosthetic limbs

It was good to hear that Mat Fraser has won the Arts and Culture Award category in the Observer Ethical Awards 2014 for his show Cabinet of Curiosities: How Disability was kept in a Box. I interviewed Mat before the show went on tour and was wowed by his performance in the Science Museum earlier this year. For me it was akin to the kinds of cabaret performance we, in the disability arts movement, were lucky to see Mat do 20 years ago: Mat, angry, proud, projecting a cynical humour advocating...

Comments: 2

Dao: putting the disability back into disability arts

5 June 2014

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DAiSY Fest 2014 - held in the cavernous GLive arts centre in Guildford, yesterday, left me with a warm, fuzzy feeling. And I guess at the end of the day, there’s no greater thing that the Arts can bring into your life than a sense of belonging; a sense that you have a recognised place in the world. And so a big thanks to DAiSY for inviting Dao to come and put an event on. With the calibre of performance from Allan Sutherland and Penny Pepper there was no doubt in my mind that it was going...

Comments: 5

A question of life and death raised by the Art and the End of Life Symposium held as part of Brighton Fringe Festival

23 May 2014

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Over the last few years, especially since the failure of the amendment to legislation around the issue of assisted suicide in 2012, there has been a flurry of theatre work taking a positive stance on assisted suicide.  This year Brighton Fringe Festival hosted Sparkle and Dark’s Killing Roger - a well-executed, if predictable polemical theatre piece about the failures of the care system and the decision of an elderly man to inspire help in having reached a conclusion that he’d...

Comments: 2

From the archive: Gini visits the Sky Tree in Tokyo

21 May 2014

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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.

I’ve been going through Dao’s archive in the last few editorials. My intention is to continue highlighting a few favourite articles from a decade of Dao. In last weeks newsletter I asked what pieces of content you, dear Dao reader would like me to highlight? Richard Downes came back with a comment expressing how much he enjoyed Gini's exploration of Japan and technology, during her trip to Tokyo in September 2013. He says: “I liked the way she presented her diary and...

Comments: 0

From the archive: the impressive asymmetry of Mark Ware's digital imagery

11 May 2014

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digital image of a mummified figure at the centre of a tree-like series of branches

I intended at the beginning of the year to celebrate Dao's tenth year by writing a monthly blog reviewing key works  that have helped to shape what the journal is and who it is for. Earlier in the year I looked back at Peter Street’s war poetry, published in December 2006, which has left an indelible imprint on my consciousness. Back in 2004, I was running the site from a computer in the Mind offices in Lewes, kindly offered by the Director, Paddy Mobbs. I can't remember how...

Comments: 1

Trish invites you to fill in our Dao readers survey…

8 April 2014

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Hand written multicoloured text reads: News Listings Reviews Blogs Interviews Galleries

This is the third consecutive year that we’re asking you to take part in our annual reader survey. It is absolutely crucial to our role in the arts to remain vibrant and interesting:  This is your chance to tell us what you like about Dao and how you would change or improve on our website, social media interaction and our activities out in the ‘real world’.  By giving us this valuable feedback we can make changes so that everyone gets a better service. Last year...

Comments: 0

Vital Xposure produce one of their best productions yet with 'Let Me Stay', which has just received Unlimited funding

4 April 2014

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Julie McNamara on stage sitting on a chair within a white circular piece of flooring. She turns to face a large projection of her mum, Shirley, against a backdrop of large cardboard boxes

I am delighted that Julie McNamara and her company Vital Xposure have received an Unlimited award for Let Me Stay. I’ve known Julie a long time now – through thick and thin you might say. And I know her well enough to say that she puts everything into whatever she turns her attention to. Let Me Stay is a treat. I saw Julie perform Let Me Stay in a makeshift theatre space – the sort of space that proves that you can make theatre anywhere, if you are good...

Comments: 1

Trish comments on the Arts Council's No Boundaries conference.

7 March 2014

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As someone involved in the running and development of three cultural organisations Arts Council's No Boundaries conference was a must-see event. I for one was very grateful that the live-stream was an available option given an extremely busy programme of project planning and fundraising that has taken up the first two months of 2014. Dipping in and out of the stream over the two days, and then having the opportunity to return to the talks I missed the first time round or re-visit some of...

Comments: 0

Creative Minds asks how do we assess 'quality' arts practice next week in Brighton

3 March 2014

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photo of two female dancers from Corali Dance company posing against a wall on which their shadows are cast in green

I am looking forward to the 'Creative Minds' conference coming up on 10th March in Brighton. Altogether 26 learning disability arts organisations have been working to create a series of conferences / events in various regions across the country. Carousel have taken the lead on the Brighton event. There will be performances, art and talking from: Action Space London, Chris Pavia, choreographer with Stop Gap Dance Company, Corali Dance Company, Face Front Theatre Company, Oska Bright Film...

Comments: 0

Look backing through the Dao archives and rediscovering Peter Street's war poetry

14 February 2014

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photo of pet Peter Street holding one of his collections Not Caild Fireweed For Nowt

We're continuing to reflect on the last ten years of Dao and part of that process has been pulling out highlights for David Hevey who is coordinating the next stage of the heritage bid to build a disability arts archive.  I could never resist Peter Street's poetry (there is rather a lot of it on Dao). I first met Peter at a Survivors' Poetry conference in Coventry in the late nineties. As I recall it was not long before Peter pushed himself to realise an ambition to become a...

Comments: 2

Colin discusses Unlimited asking can Art and politics be separated?

3 February 2014

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It seems to me as we enter deeper into the New Grim there is a need to question further what the role of Disability Arts is, currently. In a conversation with Mat Fraser recently we talked about why it is more pressing than ever for him to weave a discussion about the three models of disability openly and creatively into his one man show ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’. Back in the late 1990s we always knew the Disability Discrimination Act was half-hearted. We persisted in face of...

Comments: 5

Colin kicks off 2014 with a look at one of Dao's most accessed pieces of in-depth content

7 January 2014

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normality training cartoon

Happy New Year to one and all. As a theme running through DAO's tenth year I want to draw attention to features in our back catalogue for those who may not be aware of the depth and breadth of the content in the journal.  Many of you will be aware of the value and importance of the Social Model of Disability to the history and development of Disability Arts, but may be confused or sceptical about the Affirmative Model of Disability which attempts to bring the theory into a 21st century...

Comments: 0

Colin wishes all our readers the best for the festive season, looking forward to 2014

20 December 2013

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Crippen's favourite christmas card cartoon

Trish and I have had a busy year. Firstly I'd like to thank everyone for supporting Dao in 2013. We’ve had a fantastic year with many achievements. Many of our Arts Council funded Diverse Perspectives commissions led to further showcases of work, particularly for performance artist Liz Crow and wordsmith/ visual artist Gini who presented work at the Personal to the Universal Symposium with LinkUp Arts at Salisbury Arts Centre last April.  We're delighted to announce that...

Comments: 6

Colin writes about Creative Future's Literary Awards and Dao's plans to celebrate our tenth anniversary

22 November 2013

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Photo of Dolly Sen standing on a step-ladder whilst screwing a light bulb into the sky

In the run-up to Trish and I putting together our next literary project to celebrate ten years of DAO next Spring it I went to have a conversation with Dominique De-Light, Creative Future Project Director. I was very pleased by the success of the Creative Future Literary Awards - not least because three Dao writers, Dolly Sen, Penny Pepper and Lynne E. Blackwood were amongst the 18 writers who received awards including a share of cash prizes. Up to summer 2013 Creative Future invited...

Comments: 0

Colin salutes Oska Bright International Short Film and Digital Media Festival

19 November 2013

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still from the Oyster Project's film 'Timeslip' showing a Victorian gent on a cobbled street bearing a stick as a young woman walks away

Oska Bright has played an important part in my life since it launched in Brighton in 2004. Learning disability organisation Carousel's effort in showcasing short films made by and with people with learning difficulties is a spotlight on a largely hidden world. It's success is largely down to the committee of learning disabled film makers and artists who choose the films, run the festival and take screenings worldwide through their On The Road programme.  Dao has carried a blog for...

Comments: 0

Colin Hambrook celebrates a JODI commendation for Liz Crow's Bedding Out

12 November 2013

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Bedding Out at Salisbury Arts Centre

This years Jodi Awards for equal access to culture for disabled people are soon to be made public. I'm pleased to say that an initial announcement made yesterday revealed that Liz Crow's Bedding Out received a Jodi commendation.  The pilot for Bedding Out - shown initially at the SPILL Festival of Performance in Ipswich in November 2012 - was a Dao 'Diverse Perspectives' commission, which just goes to show what far-reaching results can be achieved from a relatively modest...

Comments: 2

Avant-garde or art as activism? Colin Hambrook discusses Disability Art in relation to Grayson Perry's Reith Lectures and Liz Crow's In Actual Fact

4 November 2013

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Liz Crow lies in her bed, white bedding, with red fabric draped across the sheets, a red rope barrier around the bed.

Since 1948 the BBC have been broadcasting an annual series of lectures by leading figures of the day addressing contemporary themes. It's over twenty years since there was last a Reith Lecture on the place of the Arts within society, so initially I was a bit non-plussed as to why Grayson Perry had been chosen to deliver a series which I normally associate with heady science or hearty politics. I listened to the third of the 'Playing to the Gallery' series of talks 'Nice...

Comments: 1