This site now acts as an archive only. For the latest news, opinion, blogs and listings on disability arts and culture visit

Disability Arts Online

Re-imagining Wheelchairs / 18 March 2012

Last weekend I attended a performance related workshop; I had completed two application forms, one for me and one for the chair. Currently the chair, my chair, and I are in a difficult relationship because I never quite got over my month with the skinny-wheeled Japanese model.

The workshop was fun, creative and quite demanding. I poked and prodded at personal boundaries as we explored ways of working autobiographically. During the process and all through this week I have been busy in my head-space and coming to the conclusion that I have been lazy in my relationship with my chair.

Friday before the weekend, on Portland, I met Sue (Creating the Spectacle) Austin's underwater wheelchair; looking like a basking bird and performing like a walrus on land, it was transformed with Sue under water to encompass qualities of a magical, mystical sea-creature.

So, do I also posses the power to transform my chair; to control or remove it's cloaking spell? Am I fooling myself when I think I may even have magical cloaking spells of my own? Can I actually make my chair disappear? And how does that impact on the relationship?

Will you push me in?
Sue straps herself into
the chair's ungainly embrace;
unwinds her mouthpiece
from it's tangle with the frame
and checks for air. Team Go.

Dragging fin-wings like a
wounded bird, the chair makes
clumsy lurch into the water.
Compassion hovers. Stunned
I hold my breath as the
transformation catches me.

Instantly elegant, the chair and Sue
begin to play, to dance,
an underwater flight more
familiar to dolphins
and whales; to Veasta and mermaid
than any mere human.

Keywords: art,creating the spectacle,cultural olympiad,poetry,relating to wheelchairs,underwater wheelchair