Disability

The 'golden age' of disability arts

A pen and ink illustration of a woman in a wheelchair cutting out a chain of paper dolls. Image copyright Alison Lomas
Image caption Diversity, by Alison Lomas, was one of the first works in the National Disability Arts Collection and Archive (NDACA) collection

This article contains strong language

A group of experts from the National Disability Arts Collection and Archive (NDACA) has been photographing examples of work from the "golden age" of disability arts.

The disability arts movement began in the 1980s and culminated in the introduction of disability rights legislation in 1995, lasting a few years beyond. During this time, disabled people expressed their frustration in pictures, sculpture and ephemera, in what some call protest art. The aim of the million pound project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, is to capture as much of this collection as possible before it is lost.

Here is a selection of images from the collection.

Image copyright Paddy Masefield
Image caption An influential arts administrator from the 1980s to mid-2000s, Paddy Masefield pushed the Arts Council, and others, to open up to disability arts. His work shows the politics and fights of the disability arts movement.
Image copyright Tony Heaton
Image caption Great Britain From A Wheelchair, by Tony Heaton, 1994. Made from one single NHS wheelchair, this piece marks Heaton's ideas about how disability is not a forgotten item in a tired hospital, but a symbol of Great Britain itself.
Image copyright Tony Heaton
Image caption This is the last image of Tony Heaton before he became disabled. He was injured in a motorbike accident shortly after this photograph was taken in 1970. Heaton was one of the first to champion the disability arts movement.
Image copyright Caroline Cardus
Image caption The Way Ahead, by Caroline Cardus, 2004. The piece is part of a series of road signs made by Cardus designed to portray the everyday inequalities that she came up against while using her wheelchair.
Image copyright NDACA
Image caption Piss On Pity became the slogan of the Block Telethon protests, when people campaigned against the television fundraising event Telethon. They said the programme, described as "hours of unremittingly patronising fundraising," resulted in negative portrayals of disabled people.
Image copyright Mat Fraser
Image caption Survival of the Shittest, Mat Fraser, circa 1999. Fraser is one of the most recognisable contributors to the disability arts movement. He has had numerous creative phases - as a musician, actor, and presenter.
Image copyright Tanya Raabe
Image caption A portrait of artist Sophie Morgan, by Tanya Raabe, 2011. Raabe is one of the key portrait painters of the disability arts movement. This artwork forms part of her series of Who's Who of the disability arts movement leaders over the past 20 years.
Image copyright Tanya Raabe
Image caption Another artwork by Tanya Raabe, exploring the relationship between disability, pregnancy and parenthood.
Image copyright David Hevey
Image caption This is a publicity image for Freak Out, a 1997 film by David Hevey. It features a goat carcass in a wheelchair. Freak Out was one of three films about disability, fear and desire by Hevey, which drew large audiences.

For more information go to the website of The National Disability Arts Collection and Archive (NDACA) who will be doing more roadshows next year. The collection will be on display from 2017 online, in pop-up galleries, in a national cinema tour, and more.

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