Jo Verrent, Unlimited’s Senior Producer, explains exactly why the programme has published the shortlist of artists being considered for its next round of funding, and calls on the sector to support their development…
Unlimited is an initiative designed to embed disabled artists deeply within the creative ecology of the UK; we believe we can best do that through highlighting incredible artistic ideas disabled artists have that just scream out to be realised. We only have a limited amount of funding to give out, and the more partners, supporters, mentors and others who come on board in the development stages of projects, the further our funds can go.
Imagine the impact if through this process a couple of the projects listed below gained funds from other sources, meaning we could fund even more on the list when we come to make decisions in March…!
These projects have already made it through an intensely competitive process, and now it’s your time to get involved. Think of it as a festive treat, or part of your new year’s resolution for 2018. Whatever your motivation, surely you can’t help but be excited, intrigued or just plain curious about at least a couple of the projects on the list?
If you are a venue, promoter, organisation in the cultural sector that isn’t yet involved in one of the incredible visions outlined below then talk to us, talk to the artists, get involved. They have until 5 February to put in their full applications – the ball’s in your court.
Combined Arts and Other
These are great categories enabling artists to explore both content and form. Applications utilising digital, film and multimedia work include:
- Rhiannon Armstrong’s “The Slow GIF Movement”, where the ubiquitous, flashing, momentary imagery of a GIF is reimagined as slow, peaceful, harmonious artworks
- Emma Allen’s “Grey Matters” (part of Blackpool’s Lightpool Festival), which creates short, animated films of the underlying biological and neurological processes which lead to mental health disorders and their emotional responses, using face paint and stop-motion animation techniques
- Elinor Rowlands’ “Survivor” which gives voice to disabled female survivors of violence against women talking about what makes them strong using dance, film, audio and music
- Sarah Pickthall’s “What Springs to Mind”, a new mixed media dance for camera inspired and derived from time spent in the artist’s local launderette, exploring radical thought and extremism (developed with Kent University’s drama/film department and Brighton Digital Festival 2018)
- Timothy Renkow’s “Freaks”, a comedy road trip movie with disabled actors playing both disabled and non-disabled characters with the goal of highlighting disabled people’s ability to be both act, write and be hilarious, and even with
- Jack Dean’s “Woad”, a storytelling-based video game for desktops taking inspiration from Celtic mythology and ancient British history (being developed with Nikomus Games).
Applications including live performance includes:
- Jamie Beddard and Diverse City’s project “Delicate”, which explores ageing and disability through stories of those whose body is central to their identity (working alongside Aislinn Mulligan, Artistic Director of Circumference, neurosurgeons Annand Tripp and Dr T M Dekker, Battersea Arts Centre and Bristol Old Vic Ferment)
- Jackie Hagan’s “We Want To Make You Happy”, which uses a mixture of live performance, installation, and digital technology to give participants an experience where they feel loved and looked after
- Elaine Paton’s “Talking to Me?”, a medicine show using interactive installation and performance to show auditory hallucinations, physicalised by conjoined twins
- Jess Thom and Touretteshero’s “Language Generating Machine”, a playful, multi-sensory participatory performance for children, young people and adults, exploring the power and potential of language
- Nessa Haynes’ “The Unheard”, an immersive performance fusing dance and sound art and narratives of acquired hearing loss and a child exposed to abuse
- Ailís Ní Ríain’s “Leonora”, a new piece of music-theatre based on the life and work of Leonora Carrington, the British/Mexican surrealist painter and novelist, and
- Amy Rosa’s “Gallanach”, a durational live art piece investigating chronic pain and chronic fatigue, where the artist tries to carefully navigate an intricate structure of live electric copper wire
- David Tovey’s “Man on Bench Fairytale” creates a participatory performance art piece involving creating handmade couture out of discarded clothing, whilst a narrative is performed informed by the artist’s experience of homelessness linked to Manchester’s first international arts and homelessness summit in September 2018, supported by the Museum of Homelessness.
Other applications in this category:
- Felix Peckitt’s “The Goldilocks Mixer” is a sound installation exploring the idea of sound as a socially including and excluding force
- Maddie Smith’s “Memories, materials and identity” also creates a sound piece, from using creative writing as inspiration, alongside sculptures and contemporary textile quilts
- Rebecca Atkinson’s “At Home” aims to create a large-scale interactive gallery installation in the form of a giant dolls house for children.
- Ben Fredericks’ “The Dawn of the Designer Humans” is a new interactive artwork for VR headsets allowing audiences to consider the potentially huge consequences of gene-editing working alongside Stephen Wilkinson, Professor of Bioethics at University of Lancaster and Leicester University’s Department of Genetics and Genome Biology
- Aidan Moesby’s “I was naked, smelling of rain” is an exploration of wellbeing through the creation of artistic responses to the physicality of weather, dis/connectedness and being alone being developed with Watershed’s Pervasive Media Studio, Arc and Newcastle University
- Bob Spriggs’s “Large Array of Magnetic Pendulums” create an abstract kinetic sculpture and metaphor for interdependence
- Justin Piccirilli’s “Door of Humility” creates a wall out of accessibility aids and appliances physically dividing space and acting as a barrier – real and symbolic – that the viewer has to negotiate
Politics resounds loudly this year, with a number of pieces directly linked:
- Vince Laws’ “A Very Queer Nazi Fest” and Naomi Westerman’s “benefit” take on the benefits system and sanctions, work capability assessments, and withdrawal of services
- Phobe Kemp’s “May” takes a more historical tone with the life of disabled, bisexual suffragette May Billinghurst
- Laurence Clark utilises comedy with “Cured”, telling the story of four young disabled people on a Catholic pilgrimage to Lourdes (partners include Dadafest and Liverpool’s Royal Court Theatre)
- Nicola Miles-Wilden with TwoCan Theatre Company explore disability, sex and relationships with “Disability Sex Archive” touching on themes of body fascism, societal expectations, sexuality and relationships, based on a concept developed by Kiruna Stamell and Rhona McKenzie
New perspectives and fresh narratives abound, including:
- Rachel Bagshaw’s proposal for “Giving Thanks” (already linked to China Plate, BAC and The Bush Theatre) which charts how that key phrase ‘thank you’ is central to many disabled peoples’ everyday engagement with the world
- Paul Whittaker’s “Two Wrongs” provides a deeply honest and comical theatre piece about two disabled men
- Karina Jones’ “Blind Drunk”, a one-woman show combining circus and movement to completely turn the perception of disabled people on its head
- Kate Fox (Poet in Residence for Radio 4’s Saturday Live, Glastonbury Festival, Great North Run and Hull’s Contains Strong Language Festival amongst much more) will combine stand-up, theatre, spoken word and Dr Who in her piece “An unearthly woman” to explore the massive under-diagnosis of autistic women.
And theatre gets techy with:
- Sophie Woolly’s “Augmented”, a solo performance about her experiences becoming a cochlear-implanted cyborg
- Jane Gauntlett’s “Fool”, an interactive theatre piece which uses VR and AR technology to place you in the body of robot which knows everything about you
- Eve Leigh’s “Scenes from the Future”, a show examining the power of the internet – the digital body – to act, to be powerful, when the physical body is confined by anxiety and pain.
- Kimberley Harvey and Subtle Kraft Co’s “Happy Accidents” asks what if we celebrated our mistakes and made a dance from them instead of being embarrassed or ashamed of them, exploring the nature of mistakes as a compositional and creative tool
- Kate Marsh and Welly O’Brien’s R&D period will enable them to explore the use of choreography to challenge preconceived ideas of ‘missing’ limbs
- Joel Brown and Eve Mutson’s “111” is a duet exploring the idea of how the body and physical structures – our skeletons, wheelchair(s) and the set – interact and the oscillation of power, control and vulnerability caused between them
- Christopher Pavia’s “Shadows on the moon” is a dynamic dance work that visualises the gravitational power in the universe, produced by Stopgap Dance Company.
Although only one application fits directly within literature at present – Neal Pike’s “Tentacles”, which creates a safe, non-patronising space for writers of disability to work on their craft, meet other writers and branch out to other genres if they so wish – many of the above include writing within their process, such as Kate Fox’s “An unearthly woman”, Jackie Hagan’s “We Want To Make You Happy”, and Maddie Smith’s “Memories, materials and identity”.
Equally, whilst Adrian Lee’s “Metamorphosis” – a contemporary chamber opera project based on Kafka’s short novel of the same name, drawing inspiration from poetry, literature, sculpture, film and biological sciences – fits directly into the ‘music’ category, other applications, such as Ailis Ni Riain’s “Leonora”, Elinor Rowlands’ “Survivor”, and Nessa Haynes’ “The Unheard” also include music strongly within their concepts.
Equality in the arts isn’t just about access for audiences, it’s about what we see in our galleries, on our stages, within our festivals; it’s about who we partner with, who we support and who we promote. And as Elridge Cleaver said, “You either have to be part of the solution, or you’re going to be part of the problem”. To be put in touch with any of these projects, and join our list of incredible allies, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.