Libraries Gave Us Power

Thick black lined doodled image of Explore York Central library surrounded by colourful key words captured at the 90th celebration event on 23/09/17.

I’m currently working with Explore York  as part of their celebrations to mark their 90th year.  At the anniversary event on 23/09/17 I  asked people to give me 90 words for the 90th year of this wonderful library. More specifically, on a large sheet with a doodle of the building in the middle of it I asked; 

‘What does Explore mean to You?’ Continue reading “Libraries Gave Us Power”

Once Seen Theatre, York.

If you have a few moments, watch this and please vote for Once Seen Theatre Company York to support their bid to the Aviva Community Fund.  They are an amazing group of actors with learning difficulties who want to tell their stories of power and suvival – being told no, being given no chances or choices, living in institutional care for 38 years and more. But they are not bitter, they just want a chance to give it a go. As they say, ‘they want people to come and see what they can do, not what they cant!’  Vote here – https://community-fund.aviva.co.uk/vot…/project/view/17-4234 until 21st November 2017.

Group Print

Group print is a fast paced low tech participatory method that can help capture the experiences and perspectives of a place based community. The approach values and emphasises the importance of everyone’s involvement, and combines a place based icon with emotive key words from participants. Group print creates co-produced art pieces that capture everyday diversity as well as highlighting the social interconnectedness of people and place.  The above images shows the end result from previous group prints I have supported.  

My Shape by Barbara Stewart (1956-2016)

 

 

My Shape is an audio visual performance piece presenting the poetry of the late, great Barbara Stewart (1956-2016). Barbara’s poetry draws on her lived experience as a proud disabled person.  Articulating her very personal experiences of, the medical profession, everyday discrimination, difference and empowerment, Barbara’s work is at the same time shockingly honest, funny and positive.  Barbara worked as a welfare benefits advisor and supported thousands of disabled people to access the support they needed.  As a poet she often would speak and read her poetry at community events to which she received a great response from people.  My Shape is a poetry book Barbara finished shortly before she died and available as a PDF ebook here – My-Shape-Book-single-pages.

Bodeelanwigch

 

 

Bodeelanwigch explores the representation of dyslexia and related learning difficulties that challenge language and literacy norms. Presented as an audio visual poem, the original text written by the disability activist and artist Simon Brisenden (published in ‘Poems for Perfect People’ in 1987) this piece reconsiders the themes in relation to notions of dyslexia and associated learning difficulties. Drawing on personal experience, Bodeelanwigch alludes to Craig Collinson’s (2012) concept of ‘lexism’, which relocates the problem of dyslexia as not individually owned, but rather the consequence of expressing diverse reading, writing, speaking and hearing in relation to ‘literacy norms’. Continue reading “Bodeelanwigch”

‘…so I do the hand thing…’

'...so I do the hand thing...' - shown at the Shape Open Exhibition 2014/15.
‘…so I do the hand thing…’ – shown at the Shape Open Exhibition 2014/15.

I managed to capture my lovely late great friend Barbara Stewart (1956-2016) saying ‘…so I do the hand thing…’ on an audio recording during an interview I carried out for my PhD research. There were several people present at this focus group type interview, including Barbara. The purpose of the research was to explore representation and identity issues about disability, from people with direct lived experience of it. An abridged version of my PhD was published as a chapter in an academic text in 2009, titled ‘Disabilities: Insights From Across Fields and Around the World’. The transcript of the extract read as follows; Continue reading “‘…so I do the hand thing…’”

Just a line

 

 

This animated clip was inspired by a family collection of censored postcards from World War I sent from the trenches by my Great Great Uncle John Edward Kirby, also known as Jack to his brother, between 1915 to 1918. Drawing on the words Jack wrote whilst in the trenches, this clip presents a summary version of the postcards. The full collection of the postcards is available here. Previously shown at the Together, disability film festival 2014 see here. 

 

‘Being Disabled is Fun’

‘Being disabled is fun’ explores language use and truth construction, and how disabled people are powerful actors in the reworking of everyday realities. Drawing on the words of Steven Cole (1963 – 2016), a learning disability day service survivor, this piece uses speech synthesis to present a series of alternative ‘world’ truths. Continue reading “‘Being Disabled is Fun’”

Review of Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner.

Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner, Published by Hot Key Books 2012

‘There are train-track thinkers and then there’s you…  a breeze in the park of imagination’

Maggot Moon is a great read with a lovely visual storyline. It’s both imaginative and inspirational, and gives space for the reader to really absorb what’s going on and add in extra detail as and when you see fitting to do.

Despite the oppressively dark and sinister backdrop, the central character ‘Standish’ beams a very bright light from every page.  It is a tale of proud resistance set in a fascist state where, in the end, the power of what’s right rings true.   

Like both Sally Gardner and I, Standish is Dyslexic, although this is not explicitly labelled in the text, rather this is implied in the opening pages with the line, ‘Can’t read, can’t write, Standish Treadwell isn’t bright’. Continue reading “Review of Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner.”

Dyslexic Discourse; E-book accessibility and the resistance of literacy norms on Maggot Moon.

First published In June 2013, in the Write4Children journal, this paper considers e-book accessibility and literacy norms in relation to dyslexia.  Beginning with a personal account of e-book accessibility, the technical and corporate challenges of accessible publishing are briefly reflected upon.  The production of ‘dyslexia’ is then explored in terms of Craig Collinson’s (2012) ‘lexism’, which relocates the problem of dyslexia as not individually owned, but rather the consequence of expressing diverse reading, writing, speaking and hearing in relation to ‘literacy norms’.  This considers how dyslexics defy language conventions and thus are able to facilitate alternative knowledge interpretations of the world. In this way it is suggested that while accessible e-books have the potential to liberate readers in progressive ways, this can only be achieved if every-day and institutional language producers resist the literacy norms through which we are socially ordered to perform speech acts in particular ways.  Sally Gardner’s recent book, Maggot Moon, is then considered for the way in which it promotes a positive representation of dyslexia and the leadership the book shows by way of it’s multi format and accessible publishing style. Continue reading “Dyslexic Discourse; E-book accessibility and the resistance of literacy norms on Maggot Moon.”