Working with 8 participants we researched ‘How should we interpret and curate the history of labelling people (neurodiversity*)? Looking at the charitable, medical, educational, media and personal narratives.’
We visited the ‘Wellcome Library’ in London, completed our own research that looked at how neurodiversity has been portrayed in the past and by the media today. As a group we wanted to explore accessible activism and change/highlight negative portrayals and language still being used by the media and society such as the word ‘suffers’. The headlines displayed show current views on neurodiversity. The article in the frame is about me written by a local newspaper that described dyspraxia as a ‘Muscle Disorder Battler’.
When designing the exhibition I wanted to see if I could make an inclusive and welcoming space. I feel that accessible activism can take place in the form of being able to take ownership of a space that is unwelcoming and making it accessible for yourself and others.
During the research I tried to create art that would be accessible for others and myself to make. For my creative response I wanted to learn a new photographic process, printing cyanotype on glass. I am still learning the technique as it takes a long time to perfect. Each of the prints represents the subjects we spoke about during the research.
*neurodiversity, for example, dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, ADHD, ASD and autism….
You are invited to:
Use the whiteboard protest signs to protest around the subjects shown in the exhibition and think about what accessible protest would mean.
Leave a message to Percy F. the first diagnosed dyslexic; then in 1896 labelled as ‘Congenital Word Blindness’.
Press the ‘talking labels’ to find out more about the artworks displayed and take a look through the ‘talking book’ where you can see photographs of the artwork we made together during the research.
You are also welcome to take a seat on the ‘language’ cushions.
Talking Labels audio transcript:
Due to my work and interest in museums, I feel museums are useful places to have difficult conversations and to support positive change by working with communities to tell their stories.
During the research I bought along a polystyrene head on a plinth like a statue you might seen in a museum to have a conversation about ‘Percy F’ the first diagnosed dyslexic, then in 1896 labelled as ‘Congenital Word Blindness’. Apart from his first name and that he was 14 years of age we do not know anything else about Percy or how he felt being the first dyslexic.
You are welcome to write or draw a message to Percy F on how you would feel or how you think Percy might have felt being the first dyslexic.
During the research I tried to create art that would be accessible for others and myself to make.
I enjoy darkroom printing and wanted to learn a new photographic processes printing cyanotype on glass. I coated the glass in gelatine, once dried coated in the cyanotype chemicals, once dried I placed the negative over the glass and exposed to daylight, then developed in water. Some are printed on paper as I am still learning the technique as it takes a long time to perfect. Each of the prints represents the subjects we spoke about during the research.
- The Charitable shows the National Autistic Society previous and current logos.
- The Medical shows a newspaper image of the ‘bleach’ sold online as a cure for autism.
- The Educational shows a collage of computer software and easy grip pens.
- The Media show Peta fake research campaign ‘Got Autism?’
- The second Media print shows characters on TV including Julia the first autistic muppet and Ryan the dyspraxic Doctor Who companion.
- The Personal shows a photograph of Donald Gray Triplett the first diagnosed autistic born in 1933.
During the research we wanted to explore the thought of accessible protesting further. We made protest signs taking inspiration from the newspaper headlines we had been looking at. The newspaper headlines are being shown by film on a loop. The film is just over 8 minutes long. The article in the frame is about me written by a local newspaper that described dyspraxia as a ‘Muscle Disorder Battler’. I’ve also made a LED neon sign of the word suffers. A word the media tends to use a lot but not necessarily a word individuals would use to describe themselves.
You are welcome to write or draw on the protest white boards taking inspiration from the newspaper headlines or what do you think a accessible protest would look like?
MA show took place from the 6th-13th July at the University of Brighton, Grand Parade.