Screenshot of an animation showing a large yellow figure sat at a dining table with their face submerged in what appears to be a bowl of tomato soup. They are holding a spoon in one hand and have electric blue hair. The background of the image is sky blue.
Screenshot from 'Submerged,' by Grace Fairley.

Creating time and creating new partnerships

Thanks to support from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Unlimited has been able to work in partnership with the University of Atypical to award a series of grants to D/deaf and disabled artists living in Northern Ireland. 

This is the first in a series of grant programmes funded by Unlimited and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and delivered through the University of Atypical to support D/deaf and disabled artists living and working in Northern Ireland. Called ‘Creating Time awards, they are designed to provide D/deaf and disabled artists with funding to access mentoring to enhance knowledge or skills, develop new ways to promote their work or simply to buy the time needed to continue with their professional practice. 

The University of Atypical is a disabled-led arts charity, taking an empowerment-based approach towards supporting disabled and D/deaf people’s involvement in the arts. The organisation specialises in developing and promoting the work of artists who are D/deaf, disabled, or neurodivergent and in reaching disabled, D/deaf, and neurodivergent audiences. 

Jo VerrentSenior Producer, Unlimited, commented, “We are delighted to be able to use some of our emergency funding from Paul Hamlyn Foundation to support artists based in Northern Ireland, an ambition we have wanted to fulfil for some time. Its part of a continuing relationship with University of Atypical – enabling us to learn from each other and support these exceptional disabled artists from Northern Ireland to connect with those from England, Wales and Scotland as part of our alumni.” 

Through this partnership we have awarded £1,000 micro grants to eleven D/deaf and disabled artists to support their professional development.  Awards were made to artists in the following disciplines: Dance, Literature and Language Arts, Drama and Theatre, Music and Opera, Visual Arts, Film, TV and Combined Arts, and included awards to established and emerging artists including:   

Andrea Begleya singer – songwriter from Pomeroy in County Tyrone and is the niece of Irish Country singing legend, Philomena Begley.  Andrea was the winner of BBC’s ‘The Voice UK’ in 2013.  

Shannon Sickels (Yee)an award-winning playwright best known for Reassembled, Slightly Askew, an autobiographical, audio-based artwork about her experience of falling critically ill with a rare brain infection and her journey of rehabilitation with an acquired brain injury.  

Robin Price: a visual artist with a background as a theoretical physicist and his work centres on interactivity and technological interventions. He alters everyday devices so that the devices can be seen anew.  

Grace Fairleyan artist and illustrator who graduated in 2019. Her animation ‘Submerged’ was commissioned specially for NI Mental Health Arts Festival ‘Submerged’ is a short animation highlighting the feeling of being absent from your body  

The other artists included: Die HexenHelen HallLinda FearonGeraldine O’KanePatrick HickeyLucas Dillon, and Luna Kalo. 

Sean Fitzsimmons, Chairperson of the University of Atypical, stated, “Covid 19 has caused great difficulties for many people in our community – especially the d/Deaf and disabled artists – but thanks to the generosity of Unlimited and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, we are able to provide much needed funding to help d/Deaf and disabled artists continue working and to facilitate career development opportunities.  The awards recognise the contribution d/Deaf and Disabled Artists make to the arts sector and to the community in Northern Ireland.”

More information and a short film launching the awards are available from the University of Atypical websiteFacebook account, and below.

Creating Time 2021 AC from University of Atypical on Vimeo.

This is the start of a two part process, the next programme, the Chris Ledger Legacy awards, opens in May 2021 and is name after the former CEO of University of Atypical who sadly passed away in the summer of 2020.