Week 9: Art and activism #107days

We start with an apology that Week 9 is having its first blog on a Friday! An all time delayed performance, even for us, however that’s partly because we’ve been out on the campaign trail this week and doing ‘art and activism’ rather than writing about it! Before you delve in to this post we’d like to remind you that Live at LICA have their Family and Community Day tomorrow (Sat 23 May) so pop along to see the #JusticeforLB artwork, join the pop-up picnic and survey the quilt in all it’s majesty. For now, Sara has blogged about the brilliance that was Monday:

On Monday, as many of you will know, the Sparrowhawk Art exhibition took place at the Peter Scott Gallery, Lancaster University as part of their Open 2015 event. Parcels of #JusticeforLB art were sent up north over the past few weeks to create both an exhibition and a political space. Richard Smith, the gallery curator, described what underpins Open 2015;

‘We feel an art centre should be communal and tell us who we are and who we want to be; if not a social movement, it should at least provide a deeper awareness and sense of place. It should have a design that can situate all disciplines together in the search for knowledge and understanding and have at its core the unique process and language of art, which is able to articulate things that cannot be expressed otherwise. During OPEN 2015 we’ll start this journey, exploring what an art centre could be and what it should do’

Sparrowhawk Art was clearly in the right space.

One thing I particularly loved was the way in which the exhibition was created during the exhibition. It started at 10am and we pitched up everything was pretty much on the floor or in boxes (other than the quilt that was being displayed for the month). We became gallery helpers, sticking up the remarkable pictures of the Justice flag at Glastonbury, guillotining a copy of Jeremy Hunt’s letter, thinking of ways of displaying the Justice cardboard (but deftly reinforced) bus and, for Janet Read, doing some on the spot stitching repairs to the quilt.

It was amazing.

Late morning there was wondrous excitement as the Guardian online gallery was shared. So moving, so stunning, so remarkable that the artwork has been created spontaneously and created with love and care.

This also stood out among the gallery team. They were accommodating, sensitive and handled every item with respect. Later, during the panel, Chris Hatton reflected on how unusual this was to witness. Learning disabled people are not typically afforded such respect.

The panel

At 3pm, the panel convened, chaired by Chris Hatton and consisting of Graham Shellard (My Life My Choice), George Julian (#JusticeforLB), Janet Read (Chief Quilter), Dominic Slowie (NHS England) and Imogen Tyler (University of Lancaster).

Dominic (via a video link) described how “the pain, anger and frustration has been reborn into something that’s captured the minds and hearts of people” and how the campaign has grasped practical projects that can make a difference. George emphasised how the campaign is about everyone and how it’s demonstrated that people do care. Graham said that My Life My Choice “knew what it was like to be someone with a learning disability and have something happen to you”. He talked about some of the activities he’s involved in and announced that LB had been made an honorary DJ at Sting Radio. Janet described the campaign as a choir without constraint; people lending an ear and pitching in together. “A talented, unconditioned choir of excellence!” She described how the quilt not only records the terrible things that happened to LB but also his life and his personality. Finally, Imogen talked movingly and powerfully about her cousin Rachel who loved cherry coke and cheesy wotsits. She ended by talking about an event at Inclusion Scotland where George Lamb announced “We are the revolting subjects and we are here to revolt”.

The discussion involved powerful stories from ‘just two mums’ as the founders of Unique Kidz and Co described themselves, as well as reflections about the role of social work.

It was powerful, moving, emotional and pretty humbling (not sure of the right word here) to listen to this, surrounded by LB’s artwork. I think Imogen summed it up perfectly.

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Thank you to Chris Hatton for organising so seamlessly, and to LICA for hosting with generosity and welcome.

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Week 5: Quilt tour continues #107days

This week, Week 5, has been jam packed with Justice Quilt action and as the quilt departs the awesome People’s History Museum in Manchester we thought we’d update you on the next stop on it’s tour. Last year Chris Hatton and Hannah Morgan adopted Day 49 in the original #107days with colleagues at Lancaster. Then last September, the Quilt was unveiled at Lancaster University at the CEDR conference, and now it is returning for a brief residency.

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Live at LICA (Lancaster Institute of Contemporary Arts) starts on Monday 27 April and includes Open 2015 at the Peter Scott Gallery for three weeks:

Live at LICA is turning its gallery into a social space complete with café bar to explore the question – what is a 21st century art centre?

It’s a question we feel is fundamental to the culture industry right now and will be at the core of OPEN, our annual season that presents and discusses ideas for the future with our communities, artists and peers.

We feel an art centre should be communal and tell us who we are and who we want to be; if not a social movement, it should at least provide a deeper awareness and sense of place. It should have a design that can situate all disciplines together in the search for knowledge and understanding and have at its core the unique process and language of art, which is able to articulate things that cannot be expressed otherwise.

As part of Open 2015 there will be three related #JusticeforLB events.

FlagTour  For one day only, Mon 18 May, the Sparrowhawk Art Exhibition will see art collected as part of the campaign on temporary display in the ground floor of the Gallery. Alongside the Justice Quilt, the #JusticeforLB flag that debuted at Glastonbury 2014 will also be on display, with the Bus Pictures drawn as part of #107days and the beautiful wall hanging that Briony made last year.

WallHanging

There will also be a Campaign Talk on Monday 18 May that you are all very welcome to:

Join Prof Chris Hatton of the Centre for Disability Research, Lancaster University, Dr Sara Ryan and others at 3pm for a panel discussion on the #JusticeforLB campaign.

The #JusticeforLB campaign broadly agitates to change the way that people with learning disabilities and their families are treated and valued by society.

The talk will provide background to the campaign, and discuss how a crowdsourced project works, the success of the grass roots digital campaign and the importance of artwork as an expression of political resistance and thought.

On Saturday 23 May, Open15 has a family community day and as part of that there will be a #JusticeforLB pop-up picnic, as first announced here. Designed to ensure every child gets the chance to attend a party where they’re welcome, we hope many of you will make it. 

The quilt will be on display throughout Open15 and we hope that many of you will make it along to Lancaster, and don’t forget to share what you think with us.