Disability Talks

From exploring my project further, I have developed a polished project that still has the possibility to be expanded in the future. I have submitted a portfolio which sophistically explores the lives of disabled people, including myself and effectively challenges public perceptions of disability. The final statement is shown below.

Disability is a social construct that renders the position of the disabled person as lesser than that of an able-bodied person. This requires change; to induce change, we need understanding.

The majority of experiences of disability or life limiting conditions are ignored by the wider community; whether this is because the conditions are largely invisible or whether wider society has chosen to not consider certain conditions as worthy of regard. As a result, sections of the disabled community experience discrimination, ranging from subtle to the outright aggressive. Being disabled includes a horizon of having to explain, declare and justify your otherness and need for consideration.

This work portrays some of the societal complexity of the lived experience of invisible disability.

Interim Crit

Following the introduction of the FMP and the proposal for the project I intended to explore disability in a multitude of ways, both theoretically and photographically. The project initially intended to explore the position of the disabled person in society. The concept was influenced by the ongoing trials and discrimination disabled people have faced, which is shown in the media. As a disabled person myself, I encounter discrimination on a daily basis and wanted to challenge the way in which people perceive disability.

The interim crit is a formative assessment, meaning that the assessment is not formally marked, and is given verbally. This means that the help and advice given will help guide us to our final outcome.

From my research and my photographic practice carried out throughout this project, the project began to fall into four parts; the discrimination landscapes, the people, their voice and the evidence. Initially, this combination would explore the position of the disabled person and how others treat them. This would be shown with a landscape where they face the most discrimination and a selection of images taken by the participants to show what their lives are like and the unseen challenges. Unfortunately, at this stage I struggled to find people willing to participate.

Following the feedback and evaluation from this assessment, it was highlighted that what I was trying to portray was the hidden illness and disability. This was because the majority of people speaking out about their disability had been unfairly judged because the disability was hidden. What also emerged was that I intended to say was that I wanted to give a voice to these people, to counteract the discrimination. From this, it was decided to show the people who are on the receiving end of this injustice; removing all contexts and portraying them as ‘normal’. A diary portraying the truth, from the participants, would then juxtapose this.

During this stage, I am still excited. I am passionate about changing the public view of the disabled and really feel this work will achieve this.

The Hadfield Trust Creative Travel Award

The Hadfield Trust Creative Travel Award is an award scheme which is available to university students up to the value of £500, to part fund an activity or travel which will enhance learning opportunities in the final year of study. I have applied for the award in order to partially fund the trip that I will be taking to Free Range.

The process requires a submission of a form that highlights the ins and outs of the trip. The form required an outline of the trip, how this will help your future career and learning and an outline of the financial implications of the trip. Below are the explanations that I gave in response to this.

I have been invited to be a part of a group exhibition with other photography and fine art students at the University of Cumbria. The exhibition is called Free Range. This is a collective show of graduate art and design courses in the UK. The exhibition will be shown at The Old Truman Brewery, 91 Brick Lane, London, E1 6QL. The exhibition space is already paid for by the university, and will enable our work to be viewed by potential employers from the photographic industry. The exhibition will be shown from 6th July 2017 to the 10th July 2017. However, I am also required to help with the installation of the exhibition on the evening of the 5th July and dismantle and pack the exhibition on the afternoon of the 10th July and the following day. Showing work in such a well regarded establishment for graduate photographers like myself will potentially kick-start my photographic career and allow for my work to be exhibited to a larger audience. This will help build my reputation and will also allow for networking with other photographers who are working with similar subject matter.

Due to my disability, going on self-funded trips are a lot harder due to my limited mobility and constant pain, as I can’t walk from place to place. As a result, I have often missed out on going to events and exhibitions. I receive a disability benefit, however, this will not cover the extra transport I will need when I get to London. I will need transport from the station to my hotel and from my hotel to the exhibition.

This is a fantastic opportunity that could really open up my career prospects as well as giving me invaluable exhibition experience.

By participating in this event, I will gain experience in both showing work in a large exhibition and invigilating an exhibition. Also, by showing the work to a large audience, some of whom are from the photographic industry, there is potential to kick start my photographic career. I will also be showing my work alongside other likeminded people, which will provide an excellent networking opportunity and the potential to collaborate with people working on similar topics to myself.

I have been shortlisted to be interviewed for this award. The next stage of the process is to attend an interview and presentation, where I will explain the plan for the trip.

Exhibition History

In this blog post I will explore the history of the exhibition and how the context of the space can influence the meaning. As we draw closer to the final degree show, it is important to understand the historical context behind exhibitions and how this can influence and affect the decisions being made in the final exhibition.


Artwork was displayed in Palaces, whilst the aristocracy inhabited them. Before photography, to have a painting or even in the early stages of photography, to have a photograph displayed in ones home was a display of wealth, and political power. In the later stages of the 20th century, these places, such as the Louvre and Hermitage, were converted into museums and artefacts themselves. The artwork in these spaces, are often large scale and framed to show how grand a spectacle they are.


The church is also a place that is used in contemporary and ancient times to display artwork. Although primarily a place of worship, the display of work in the ancient times in particular, was a display of power and authoritarianism. The work in these spaces (much like in the Vatican) holds spiritual power and often deals with ideologies of the tiers of life. This tradition has been prominent in the Catholic culture. However, moving into the contemporary era, the spaces are now being showcased for it’s art, with the religious element following closely. Work from the time and new works are now placed in the space, giving it an array of meaning.

Cabinets and Curiosities

Cabinets and Curiosities held no formal or authoritarian status, other than over that of whom the photographs were made of. The artwork and photographs were made to intrigue, mock and educate the people on widely unseen issues. The work was often printed small scale, as it was to be transported around the streets in a cart. The work in the carts followed no set methodology, as it was based on the arbitrary nature of the viewers. The topics of the displays often changed; but were mostly taxidermies of tropical animals, specimens of unusual life forms and things that were of scientific and aesthetic research. Although this side was harmless, some people did fall subject to the judging gaze, especially those who were considered ‘freaks’ and performed in travelling circuses.


The word museum is derived from multiple languages; in Latin it means “library or study”, in Greek it means palace of study, library, museum school of art and poetry” and “a seat or shrine of muses”. This ideology of learning associated with the founding of the museum formed the grounding for their purpose. Artefacts and artwork were beginning to be shown before the 16th century in British Libraries. This coupling of the physical object and the written word was interesting, showing that it can aid learning. In the 17th century, there was no real formal organisation of the objects, as it was considered a more formal collection of curiosities. In the 19th and 20th century, the building was now more accessible to the wider public, and housed materials of an educational and cultural purpose. In the contemporary era, there is now less emphasis on the space/building which work is displayed in; more so how the work is best curated.


Moving into the contemporary era, the gallery is a space whereby artwork and photography is shown. Galleries are either stand on their own, or work in partnership with a museum/other institution. They work in one of two ways; either being publically owned and therefore working as a non profit organisation, or they are privately owned and display work purely for financial gain. Some galleries, especially those who are run by artist collectives, work mostly in the non-profit sector. Where as those working and displaying in vanity galleries, are in that area for financial gain.

Contemporary Galleries

Contemporary galleries have similar priorities much like the original galleries. However, the space is less important in some instances, where as the space is very conservative and conventional in others. The contemporary gallery is still classed as something that is highly authoritarian, as the showcase is carefully curated in order to control the way the work is seen. Because of this, the contemporary gallery can be considered something that is highly self-conscious, often dealing with debates surrounding aesthetics, social context, economics and political dimensions.

Other Areas of Display

In today’s age, art and photography can be displayed and exhibited in most places. As technology and printing has advanced, we can now display work in retail environments, billboards, through community projects, in converted buildings and many more.


As the topic of my Final Major Project is disability, the exhibiting of my photography will be far from conventional. As the disabled body has been largely rejected in the conventional portrait, the way in which I display the work will be breaking conventions. The disabled body is something that has just started to enter social media, advertising and gallery spaces, however, their representation still needs improved. This is something that will be explored in future blog posts.

Stephen Clarke Exhibition

Stephen Clarke displayed an extensive collection of his work, which had been accumulated over several decades, exploring the seaside culture. Clarke’s series displays a collection of black and white photographs along side a collection of postcards. This post will explore and review the exhibition displayed in February 2017 in the Vallum Gallery, University of Cumbria.

Clarke’s work, shot on black and white film shows an intimate relationship with the photographer and the landscape. Clarke explores this relationship through the use of text and image. This clever collaboration allows for the viewer to see how Clarke and his family view the landscape. In the series, the postcards are shown large scale in a grid format, which shows the formality of the tradition. When viewing the images and the postcards, especially the physical copies displayed in the cabinet, as a viewer I felt nostalgic. Even though the photographs and the postcards were sent and taken before I was born, the culture is still very similar.

A prominent piece in Clarke’s work was displayed on a television screen, as it was a collection of moving images. The quality of the film was very much similar to the family snapshot. This style allowed for the viewer to understand the idea of recording precious moments in the British holiday season. This work oozed nostalgia, from building sandcastles at the beach, having a donkey ride, to visiting the amusement parks. The lack of clarity in the images allows the viewer to take what they wish from the experience.

The construct of the exhibition was interesting, as Clarke played with scale, form and framing. Clarke used a combination of small 6×4 prints in large frames, large prints in large frames, and a collection of large prints mounted onto aluminium dibond. From personal preference, I would prefer a collection of prints all the same size and framed and mounted the same way. However, Clarke’s decisions to display his work this was place emphasis on some images more than others. By presenting a collection of large scale prints, Clarke is intending for the viewer to notice those prints first and appreciate their importance over other prints. By presenting a selection of small scale prints in a cluster, Clarke is intending us to explore the print in much more depth and appreciate them as collection.

Overall, Clarke’s exhibition was an interesting collection of images that can be interpreted in a multitude of ways. I felt very nostalgic when viewing the images. The display of the work is something that I will explore further when exploring presentation options. Although the work was something that I would normally pass by, it was a interesting change to see how other genres of work.


Exhibition – Presentation and Production

As part of the assessment criteria, and a way of showcasing our work, the class and myself must produce an exhibition. This area will explore the ins and outs of the exhibition planning; explore ideas of displaying the work and the challenges that are faced along the way. The exhibition is created as a group and therefore, the posts will be explored from a personal perspective.

Open To Interpretation

Our photography exhibition is named Open To Interpretation, and will showcase our best work. The process will be liberating in the sense that we have control to produce our own work and show it in our own way. The topics of the work range from disability, agricultural issues, fairy tales, and childhood memories to identity. This extensive range of topics allows for a wider audience reach, and therefore the ability to show the work to the masses.

In order to show case an innovative and successful show, as a group, we came up with the following areas which we will tackle; social media, branding and banking. Each member of the group will take on a role in one of the following categories:

Social Media – this group will setup and maintain the social media pages (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) and update them as and when interesting things are going on.

Branding – this group will develop a logo and all of the advertising materials for the exhibition.

Banking – this group will open a bank account and organise the online fundraising platform. They will also apply for funding from funding bodies in order to support the financial implications of the show.

During the first meeting, I volunteered, along with two others, to organise the banking aspect. As well as this, I have also taken on a leadership role within the group, taking notes from the meeting and passing them on the relevant people, and organising the meeting’s place, time and agenda. Follow the posts to come to find out the progress with the exhibition planning.