Thursday, September 28, 2017

Artistic Jouney

The idea for my doll exhibition emerged about November 2016, while working with my mentor Nancy Brown However the journey actually started much further back that that.  The exploration of creating art dolls start with my tutor Mia Clark at the BIA (Brisbane Institute of Art).  Gabby picture with me above, was given  critical feedback the work boarded on craft - Or the tutor was not convinced it was art!  She still let me squeeze Gabby into the exhibition!  Hey Mia!  I have upgrade to making my own flowers!!!
I have always been drawn to images of eyes!  The picture in the window - 'Good eye/Bad eye' was one of the very first pieces I exhibited. This was a shop window street exhibition in Toowoomba for disability action week 2013 organised through the cpl.
Well not far into my third semester in one of Mia's classes she introduce me to the work of Merka Mora and the world of art dolls. I soon found my self try to learn to sew.  Lots of stabbing myself with needles and cursing the tutor. Like most artists, I have pretty strong political views and Mia thought I should be expressing that more in my art.
Yep! I can be bit one eyed at times.
Pretty much spent the rest of the semester playing with dolls while the rest of the class got to paint!
Scarlet was the closest I got to the concept of an art doll with a message the beauty wasn't skin deep and the eyes captured the soul.
I soon found I was not the only one fascinated with faces, eyes and dolls. In my other life I am a disability advocate and always jumping up and down about being pigeonholed or not ticking the right boxes!
This was when I first started to think about using my art to communicate feelings of isolation and being stuff in a box to meet funding requirements.  This was around the time I started campaigning for the NDIS.
The signing of the ndis agreement between
the Queensland Government and the Federal Government
Photo courtesy of Judy Dickson CEO
ALARA Queensland
The National Disability Insurance Scheme was the result of a human rights campaign, lead by those touch by disability themselves.  It was the first time a lobby group used their voice to set in monition an act that had the potential to empower their lives.
Early this year I was delight to assist with the opening of the Ipswich Area NDIS which was accompany with an art exhibition by local artists with disability. A number of artists that had come through the ArtISability program.
What a privileged it has been to help shape current public policy. It have definitely put my name on the map as a disability advocate in the Ipswich region.
And yet in terms of the disability art sector, there is a Mt Everest to climb. as I sense for an artists with disability its a double whammy!  People with disabilities are one of the most isolated group in Australia. We still struggle for access to the legal system whether we are a victim of an accused, due to our perceived in ability to testify and give reliable evidence.
Artists in Australia are seen as the misfits and dropouts of society.  Basically those who choose not to conform with the 9 to 5 world and the reason we need to have a 'real' job.  Unless you have a disability then qualification are not enough to warrant paid employment.
While I champion the NDIS for the arts/disability sector a whole new challenge in the funding and the sustainability of Supported Studios.  In some states this means our studios can not access arts specific grants as that is double dipping we are now dependent of gaining a market share for survival, not so easy being a new player in the game.
Like the rest of Australia 'art' is not seen as a valid form of employment. Its a hobby or past time to keep people with disabilities happy.  So NDIS funding for artists to continue to be part of supported studios has been more miss than hit.
During Introduction to watercolour last year I returned to painting faces.  Mia was not the tutor of that class.  This work form a major part of my digital exhibition for Off The Wall gallery in Newtown Sydney.
Freedom form Perceptions
So faces and eyes were again dominating my artwork and I found myself painting dolls. Clearly there was an exhibition bursting out, demanding to be created.  I mention this to my mentor Nancy, she nodded in agreement but suggested I stop painting and start creating.  Great Mia had another allied.
What will Mia say, as my first mentor she will always be in my head and then I remember the needle picks, the blood and they dumby spits!
She'll be proud! she suggested.  Just like my poetry this exhibition has emerged somewhere from my soul and taken over my life.  I thought that stopped when I stopped writing books the never sold. 
Slowly the images and concepts from me Freedom from Perceptions have emerged and evolved into my dolls exhibition!
Became Loo-Loo
I can give public speeches about distancing the word 'disability' for the worlds 'less fortunately'; recite facts and figures on disability without needing to look them up; run disability awareness and access training sessions that will have little impact on societies attitudes towards disability.  It's very safe for society to leave us in the pigeonholes its created.
People need to experience the reality of disabilities for themselves. In the Ipswich community gladly other artists with disability are now being recognised.  As the art community has experienced disability through my relationships; my work and the other artists with disability I work with; and my art.

Those in my networks no see my disability is just being a part of who I am.  A part they often forget about until my wheelchair needs lifting up some stairs. The more I reflect and develop my exhibition, the more I realise Mia Clark had planted the seed to grow three years ago. 

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