Lot’s of excitement today!!
For a few weeks I have been one half of the Photography based Artist Development team at Pyramid of Arts. This involves working in 1-1 collaboration with an artist with a learning disability called Andrew Towse. We are roughly the same age and share a lot of laughs. Andrew is really great at the technical side of using a DSLR camera and laptop, so we are really able to focus on developing the conceptual side of our collaboration. As you can see from our recent work below, we have mostly been focusing on studio-style still life shots:
However, this week is Learning Disability Week! (15th-22nd June 2015) So today Andrew and I were visiting different events in Leeds.
Day started at Beyond – Learning Disability and the Arts in Leeds exhibition and festival launch at Arts@Trinity, Holy Trinity Church. Work made by participants on Pyramid of Arts projects was on display, as well as a projection of films from other organisations in the city (including The Bridge, where I supported on the Wild Thing production led by Marianne Springham through East Street Arts).
Next we head to St James Hospital to see the LEEP1 fashion show and People Matters dance routine. This event was part of a wider project from the hospital called Get Me Better, which aims to make good healthcare more accessible to people with Learning Disabilities. It was filmed for Made In Leeds TV, photographed by the Yorkshire Evening Post, and even had scouts from Channel 4’s The Undatables. (I mentioned to them that I think Still Dateable would be a better title). I met a couple of people who I’ve tutored in fashion photography, and they shot and filmed the whole event alongside Andrew. It was great to see them put their skills to use and the learner Steven Joynson was particularly animated, moving around the back of the room to shoot some really good angles of the models and audience, and even getting down on the floor.
After a brief meander around Leeds City Centre, we headed back to Beyond for the celebration event. Speakers explained the concept of Beyond as a 2 week festival in June 2016 that will showcase the plethora of amazing artists with learning disabilities in Leeds and link all of the organisations working within learning disability inclusive arts. Next the audience were treat to a heavy set from premier metal band Ultimate Thunder.
A hectic and inspiring day! It’s amazing to see so many great projects, organisations, and independent artists producing such impressive and creative work. I have been working in learning disability inclusive arts in Leeds for nearly 2 years now but today I have learnt there is so much more going on than I realised. The potential positive impact that could come from these organisation/projects linking up under Beyond is huge. I look forward to seeing what can happen and how I can be involved over the next 12 months…
I know a lot of other people have had a very busy LD week in Leeds, and I’m really grateful for the hard work put in by people like James Hill, Mindy Goose, Sadie Dunne, Sally Jude, Lucy Ellis and many more, for creating opportunities for LD and non-LD artists, giving us time to focus on what art does best: exploring what it is to be human.