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Disability Arts Online

Everyday artist / 30 July 2013

Homegrown
The Heroic in the Everyday
Salisbury Arts Centre, 6th July- 18th August

Hijack All Dayer - Free - Youth Arts festival

My day had been long and full of potential stress and misunderstanding, the drive to Salisbury in the radiant heat of baked metal, was in a Friday rush hour, I was tired and prickly, but I travelled with anticipation.
First held in 2011, the Arts Centre's exhibition of works by resident artists, workshop leaders and participants has been an annual success and the buzz leading up to this one was encouragement enough to keep going.
For a Private View/preview performance the occasion was packed out with well over a hundred people booked in as audience for the dance, film, monologues, and the experimental capture of imprints on clay during a joint performance of the two youth dance groups Jigsaw and  their younger 'feeder' company, Seesaw. The results of this, a film to be projected onto the fired clay, will be shown at Hijack on 31st July 2013.
In the exhibition, various works had already been capturing people's imagination, and conversations with workshop leaders were moving several people within earshot from their first impression of 'I could never do anything like that' to confessions of possible ambition and expressions of interest in the the start dates of coming sessions.
Recession may be biting into the arts in dramatic fashion as people find it more and more difficult to justify expenditure on 'luxury' but the cuts cannot kill the creativity that is part of being human and part of what we expect of civilisation.
But how has it come about that so many folk have grown accustomed to paying 'experts' for culture and no longer feel qualified to practice any of the arts for themselves? This neglect of personal hands-on involvement by people who can afford vicarious creative expression by the proliferation of professionals that bless the good times, has shown up the enthusiastic work and practice of disadvantaged, disabled, and damaged people in a strange and insular light.
Exhibiting art  has become normal for 'not-normal' people and not-normal for 'normal' people. Making is one thing and seeking public acknowledgment is something else - 'normal people' don't do it. 'Normal people' no longer seek to divert or entertain each other. 'Normal people' not only expect to enjoy a supremely polished end product, but expect it in a recognisable format - the format we are most encouraged to rate is the one that transfers value into shareholders bank accounts.
Whilst the media would have us believe that everybody wants that shot at fame, that chance to make a mark on history, the people who consider themselves normal rarely feel able to present themselves as worthy creators and makers, and though a percentage do seek witness to their existence in the cult of celebrity this leaves everyday arts and practice by the normal 'not-normal' without context.
Here in Homegrown we see works by career artists, students and recreational artists, 'normal' and 'not-normal' -  all exhibited together. An inspiration towards the rethinking our concepts of value in relation to everyday arts and creativity.

Topsy turvy the world of 'normal' turns talentless 
wannabes into flash focus curiosities for their
fifteen seconds of life in the spotlight; witness
their existence. The rest of us
cannot expect to be embraced as beautiful
people for merely existing. Refusing
the sympathy vote, we strive for
acknowledgement knowing we cannot
expect to divert focus by just showing up.
Unless we can generate pounds 
and transferable profit we are
required to prove ourselves in an arena
with no rules, no guidelines, no shape.
And in the invisible underground, the labours 
of those who do not qualify, identify, are overseen
until some unquantifiable paradigm shift
lifts them from obscurity. Their work will
overshadow their 'not-normal' identity
while cogs and wheels and binary code
record and archive the eerie silence
of a people waiting on posterity, sleeping
like lions unaware of their chains.