“As you all may or may not know, back in Shrewsbury where I live, I have set up and run ArtStudio01, an artist collective. In January 2016 we had a trip to Project Ability to see an exhibition of our work in the Project Ability gallery. This has made us realise that we also have artistic ambitions, and since then our studio group had increased to 9 artists, including myself as an artist and artists’ facilitator.
Because ArtStudio01 has grown and the artists want to show their work and develop their skills and creative practices, I wanted to visit and learn about what other learning disability art studios are doing so that I can develop our studio collective into an inclusive, thriving and successful artists’ hub.
I was recently awarded an Arts Council England, Grants for The Arts Award to do a research and development project into Learning Disability Arts, studio models and artists’ practice. I’m presently touring around on a series of #StudioVisits with my Producer on this project Jennifer Gilbert and Jackie Cooley as an associate artist of ArtStudio01. Project Ability was on our list and it was great to catch up with everyone in the studio too.
We talked, and talked, and talked with Elisabeth Gibson, the Director of Project Ability, who told us loads about the organisation, who does what, what exhibitions you do, how you sell work in the shop and all about the volunteers that support you and all about the artist residencies that happen in and outside of Project Ability. Omg you guys do so much!
A big part of my project is for ArtStudio01 to run our first artist in residence at our studios in Shrewsbury. So we also came to talk to Cameron Morgan who’s going to exhibit his work with us and join us for a short 3 day residency in March next year. We are very excited about this!
I also caught up with Simon McAuley who’s doing a research into identity, labels and self-defining or not as a Disabled Artist. I could have talked and debated all afternoon on this with Simon. It’s really fascinating research and at the core of my own practice as an artist and Disabled Artist. Hope to catch-up again to see where this takes you.
It was so lovely to be back in the studio at Project Ability, and thank you all for such a warm welcome. I’ve realised that as an Associate Artist of Project Ability I’ve lost touch with what you’ve all been doing so I must visit more often to keep in touch. I shall be making an annual visit from now on. See you all next summer!”