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Vince Laws is a poet, artist, performer, campaigner. He writes poetry, performs poetry and makes visual poetry, paintings, collage, posters, film, installations and recordings: “As an artist, I define what art is. As a poet, I define what a poem is. If my art can be anything from a painting to a concept, so can my poetry. I am a poem.”

DANDIFEST!

25 February 2014

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flyer showing four of the Norwich Dandies dressed up in their glad rags

Art collective extraordinaire, The Norwich Dandies, are planning Dandifest! a two week happening, launching on Monday 28 April 2014, running through the May Bank Holiday, and ending on Saturday 10 May 2014. The Norwich Dandies, established in 2010, have worked separately on a vast array of projects, but always have the most fun when they work together. An impressive line-up of Guest Artists will be announced in the run-up to the launch. Feedback from Helen Jones, after MindOut’s...

Comments: 6

Human - first and foremost

22 January 2014

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photo of the artist Vince Laws holding a large canvas of a green figure reaching out across a red background

Late last year I was commissioned to produce a visual piece based on my poem 'Human'. I had no idea what the end result would be. I was told to do what I wanted.  I started by re-reading the poem with the commission in mind. The commissioner had said how he liked the way my work contains layers, and how the phrase 'human first and foremost' resonated.  I was struck by how well another phrase from the poem, 'such a fuck off fabulous host' suited the...

Comments: 7

Vince Laws prepares to go through the WCA treadmill once more...

20 September 2013

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photo of a motorcycle helmet turned into a visual poem from artist Vince Laws

There's been a fair bit on DAO about the Work Capability Assessment recently. I'm in the throws of a WCA yet again and thought I'd take this opportunity to publish the following letter I've sent to the benefit office, and to my MP. I am a poet and artist because of my disabilities. I’m HIV+ and deal with mental health. It is very good for me to be creative, mentally, and I can do it around my fluctuating symptoms. Rosie, my bookkeeper wrote: ‘your books for April...

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Vince Laws welcomes you to 'Incite'

29 April 2013

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I’m performing at this event: ‘INCITE’ @ THE  PHOENIX ARTISTS’ CLUB The West End’s Phoenix Theatre is opening the doors of its exclusive members club for a free evening of LGBT poetry and in-house jazz. This monthly event, hosted by Trudy Howson, is an opportunity to experience the very best LGBT poets, and performance artists. With well-known guest performers and open mike later for budding and flowering poets who want to have a go. Stay afterwards and enjoy...

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Vince Laws explains THIS POPE IS PANTS... banned from the Jubilee Library, Brighton at the launch of 'I Am A Poem'

6 February 2013

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Vince Laws with THIS POPE IS PANTS adorning his Norfolk cottage.

The visual poem, entitled THIS POPE IS PANTS, is made of donated pants, stitched together to form bunting. There is a letter stapled to each crotch, spelling out THIS POPE IS PANTS. THIS POPE IS PANTS was displayed at the packed artistic launch in the library on 1 February, but has now left the building. As a poet and artist I wanted to protest at the Pope’s visit to the UK. For me that means coming up with words, a poem, a slogan – and then finding a way to make that piece...

Comments: 3

The B.Right.On Festival – February 2013

5 December 2012

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So here’s how it happened. I went into a cafe in Brighton where I used to clean the floors and asked for an art exhibition. The owner liked my work but said it was too political for his business. A friend knew someone who knew someone at the Jubilee Library – I got offered an exhibition there next February. I’m going to paint BANNED across the main window in dripping blood. In the foyer exhibition space there’ll be some of my visual poems, and giant speech bubbles from...

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Little Book of Coming Out Stories

9 October 2012

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photo of poet Vince Laws at a presentation holding up a copy of the book of coming out stories

Her Worship the Mayor of the Great Yarmouth, Councillor Colleen Walker will officially launch OUT140: The Little Book of Coming Out Stories in Great Yarmouth Library on National Coming Out Day, Friday 12th October. The book will then be available in libraries across Norfolk. The Little Book of Coming Out Stories was created by community filmmaker Shelly Telly (Michelle Savage) and poet Vince Laws for Norwich Pride. It lists 140 coming out stories told in 140 characters or less (a tweet on...

Comments: 2

Vince Laws show 'I Am A Poem' is due to come to Brighton

19 September 2012

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photo of a man in a motorcycle helmet with words painted on it

I have been invited to bring my show 'I Am A Poem' to the Jubilee Library, Brighton, next year. I intend to celebrate LGBT History Month with a series of events, launching on Friday 1 February 2013. I’m hoping creative people all over the city will join in the celebration. There will be a Launch Party, a Human Library, Flashmob Poetry, a Ball, the OUT140 project, and lots more. Already there’s talk of a photo exhibition, film showings, and a choir. Get in touch if you want...

Comments: 0

Time for Change

15 August 2012

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ornate plate with painted flowers and the words 'I love my mental health'

The Norwich Dandies art collective are delighted to be invited to the Time For Change event outside Norwich Forum on Saturday 1 September from 10am-5pm. Time For Change provides a friendly atmosphere and encourages people to talk about mental health while challenging preconceptions and stereotypes. The Norwich Dandies (Vince Laws, Ann Nichols, Dugald Feguson, and Eloise O’Hare) believe creativity is a valuable part of human well being. We will be bringing the infamous Dandies dressing up...

Comments: 2

Pride Without Prejudice

6 July 2012

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decorated china plate with paining of a dog pooing

I'll be exhibiting at the forthcoming Norwich Pride Without Prejudice show at St Margaret's Church of Art, St Benedict's Street, Norwich, which launches on Sunday 22 July from 6-9pm (all very welcome) and then runs until Saturday 4 August. I'm running a Paint Your Own Plaque Workshop (or bring a charity shop plate/mug/whatever to adapt?) on Tuesday 24 July at St Margaret's Church of Art from 2-4-30pm, free/make a donation. I will be performing at the Pride Tea Party at the...

Comments: 3

Cultural Olympiad sightlines

1 June 2012

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cripples though hoops - text in the form of an eye-test

Share it, print it out, stick it up where it can be seen, slip it in your notes, leave it in on a desk, post it on to friends, the people least able to campaign for themselves are being traumatised by the state. The mentally ill are being assaulted. Disability is not a life-style choice. Fund us properly, enable us, and then we can do our best - and our best is amazing. Our best will reward you far more than forced labour. This is our country. You govern on our behalf and we demand to be...

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WHERE THE QUEEN’S NEVER BEEN

14 May 2012

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I’m taking part in the Norfolk & Norwich Open Studio event this year, showing visual poetry, text art, and protest art in a picture postcard cottage in the middle of nowhere. Inspired by the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, I’ve hung Rainbow Jack bunting outside and erected a blue plaque which reads ‘1952-2012 HM the QUEEN NEVER VISITED THIS HOUSE’. I was curious to see if the blue plaques would sell, so I sent out an email and immediately sold 8. I’m enjoying...

Comments: 3

Folkestone: The Results

13 April 2012

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I had a fabulous time exhibiting my work and meeting the people of Folkestone in February. I didn’t get an Arts Council Grant, but went ahead and financed the show myself, andthough I say so myself, I made quite a splash. The MP came and launched LGBT History Month, the Town Mayor came, the Bishop of Dover sent his love, and I made the front page of the Folkestone Herald with my ‘disgusting art’ – Support the Troops, Start Another War! The Stats Volunteer artists who...

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I Am A Poem: Folkestone

17 January 2012

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Poet, artist and campaigner Vince Laws takes over Georges House Gallery, The Old High Street, Folkestone, from February 3-15. Expect visual poetry, text art, protest art, performances, events, and the chance to get involved. I send greetings and solidarity to Folkstone LGBT History Month. It’s important to reclaim our hidden history and celebrate the huge contribution that LGBT people have made to human culture and civilisation. Knowing our history is crucial to understand who we are and...

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My Mental Helmet

9 November 2011

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a photo of a motorbike crash helmet covered with words

I’ve had two pieces selected for a 6 month long exhibition in Nottingham called 'Diversity'. It's been put together by City Arts, Nottingham and The Institute of Mental Health and aims to make visual the experience of mental health difficulties. I proposed, and the organisers commissioned, My Mental Helmet. It’s the only 3D piece in the exhibition. My Mental Helmet is safer, darker Heavier, harder to communicate Here I am alone, protected Isolated, insulated from the...

Comments: 1

Work for the Facing Hard Times exhibition

5 October 2011

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A poem written using cuts of meat, sausages, burgers and bacon reads: Eat the Poor

I’ve just had two works selected for the Facing Hard Times exhibition, which launches in Kings Lynn on Saturday 1st October, 2-7pm. (I hope to be there from 2-5pm!) EAT THE POOR is a limited edition A1 print, the visualization of a set of 7 EAT THE POOR recipes I composed earlier in the year. I had fun making the text while keeping one eye on the dogs! The other piece accepted, HOPE LESS, is a one off response to the recent riots. The Out-of-the-Box independent curators have selected work...

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Vince sits for Tanya Raabe at Tate Modern

1 October 2011

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photo of poet Vince Laws standing in front of an easel with a sketch by tanya raabe

I’ve just sat for a portrait by Tanya Raabe. I'm not going to lie, I had a blast. There I stood, an HIV+ depressed queer performing poetry in the Tate - how did that happen? I want to do it again! It was a pleasure to sit for Tanya, she made it very easy, we just chatted away about life, art, disability - then threw the doors open to the public. Friends came and stayed. Strangers - hesitant at first - joined us, and took up the challenge of drawing a portrait too. I love Tanya's work, her...

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Atos Kills at the Tate

28 September 2011

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photo of placard with atos kills written on it, standing against a cross in a graveyard

Poet, artist and campaigner, Vince Laws, has launched a collection of ‘Atos Kills’ funeral cards in the Tate Modern whilst having his portrait painted. The limited edition collection comprises six cards with hand-written texts in black and red biro. ‘Who gives Atos about the sick?’ asks the first. ‘Atos is a French IT company, paid £100 million a year by the government to take benefits away from the sick’ reads the second. ‘Atos Kills' [allegedly]...

Comments: 6

Tate Blog

1 September 2011

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Vince laughing

Vince Laws invites us to Tanya at the Tate... Well let’s be honest, I’ve had my share of shit to deal with this year - but you know what, from shit springs roses! On 21st September I will be sitting in the Tate Modern having my portrait painted by an artist whose work I loved from the moment I first saw it: Tanya Raabe. Tate Curator Marcus Dickey Horley explains. “For the last 18 months disabled artist Tanya Raabe has been working collaboratively with Tate Modern and Tate...

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Did we need these riots?

16 August 2011

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Big Society begging bowl

Nick Clegg, the deputy Prime Minister, warned about riots in April 2010, a month before the last general election.You can see him talking prior to the election in this clip on youtube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YItK1izQIwo “It’s rather a silly thing to say frankly,” was David Cameron’s response. If I could riot without looting, violence and arson, I would. Oh hang on a minute, that’s peaceful protest isn’t it? I’ve tried that. I’ve written...

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Do Not Stop Taking Your Medication

20 July 2011

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series of medication bottles and boxes with the word 'human' painted on them in red

I’ve just stopped taking my medication. Five days ago as I write. I see it as an act of self-preservation rather than an act of self-harm. I’m struggling with my mental health. To be honest, it feels like another man inhabits my body and controls my life, while I am a spectator with no power to intervene. Because I’m in this place, I’m taking anti-depressants. I have all sorts of anxieties about social occasions but like where I live and feel safe there. To go anywhere...

Comments: 5

Painting for Peter Tatchell

20 June 2011

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painting of Peter Tatchell using stencils and bright colours

On July 1st the Norwich Pride Portrait show opens at St Gregory’s Church of Art, Pottergate, Norwich. Inspired by this I’ve worked on a series of self-portraits, 3 done, another on the way. I’m not interested in what I look like, but what represents me. And then I thought I’d like to try and represent someone else – but who to choose? I’ve chosen Peter Tatchell. I haven’t always admired him, to my shame. When I was a closeted younger man, I used to wish...

Comments: 3

Living Poem

14 June 2011

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photo of a woman standing next to a series of words on a wall

Results of the Living Poem, devised by Vince Laws, Trudy Howson and the Out Write crew, held in St Margaret’s Church of Art, as part of Norwich Fringe Festival, 15-28 May 2011. In bold are the questions asked, followed by the public responses. What have you been? I have been… A bucket of broken glass. Crimson on a brilliant white sink. Overly affected by other people. Let down. Burnt, held underwater until I drowned, born many times, made breathless by love, strangled, fucked every...

Comments: 0

Vince publishes a Poem for a Wedding

25 May 2011

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poem artwork which reads I'll take my vows and lie with you on a bed of fresh lime leaves

I was commissioned to write a poem for a wedding. Here it is. Vows Would you care to dance with me through tunnels of trees and lime leaves so sharply green I fear for our safety? Take me by the hand and let’s enjoy a long slow waltz old fashioned maybe but far from false. Would you care to dance with me beneath boughs and across a floral veranda? Any dance will do if it’s danced with you - a foxtrot or a samba. Would you care to dance with me? Lead me to the floor and embrace me...

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Vince Laws invites contributions for the Living Poem

16 May 2011

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It started as an idea. What would happen if you asked people to add words to a poem? Or substitute words? I’ll find out on Saturday 14th May when The Living Poem is launched (7.30-9.30pm) at St Margaret’s Church of Art, St Benedict’s Street, Norwich, as part of the annual Fringe Festival. In fact I’ve been allocated such a generous space there will be 6 Living Poems, with the public invited to answer the following questions: What do you believe in? What mistake did you...

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