UK Disability History Month 2017 Postscript

December 21, 2017 by richard

This years theme of Visual Art and Disability has been a great success.

We produced and distributed 2,300 copies of the 12 page Broadsheet.

We had a 2 page article in Septembers issue of the Teacher that goes to 375,000 teachers

We held a successful day conference on 21st October with 55 participants from all over the country with Tony Heaton, Tanya Raabe

-Webber,  Barbara Lisciki, Richard Rieser and Sarah Dormer of NDACA and a film from Alison Lapper-all on the website

We worked with Shape and NDACA to produce 4 animations about the Disability Arts Movement and activities and resource sheets on these animations

We produced a timeline and 50 visual essays of artists who were disabled or featured disabled subjects or both

We delivered and filmed a KS3 and 4 assembly

We delivered a KS 1 and KS 2 assembly with power points

We held a launch event in THE UK PARLIAMENT on 21st November with Marc Quinn and John McDonnell MP

with Tony Heaton, Tanya Raabe-Webber,  Barbara Lisciki, Richard Rieser

The National Union of Students distributed our material and the of their own postcards of strong disabled women leaders to many colleges. This was backed up by many colleges holding events with members of UCU-The college Lecturers Union

Some schools held art competitions

Events were held at Kent University, The Metropolitan Archive, Brighton, Bedford, Leeds, Manchester, Wakefield . Unite the Union and the TUC and many others.

Our theme for 2018 will be Disability and Music. Start thinking and planning now. We will cover disabled musicians and composers, Music that has featured disability story lines and librettos. How the social model of disability in music leads to reasonable adjustmemnts and Music and the Disability Arts Movement.


Contact the Coordinator, Richard Rieser  with ideas and information 0207 359 2855 or Mobile 07715420727



Disability & Visual Arts – KS1 & KS2 Assemblies

December 7, 2017 by admin

We have made 2 powerpoint presentations on this year’s theme, for use in assemblies.

Download KS1 Assembly here.

Download KS2 Assembly here.

Celebrating the artistic history of people with disabilities – Shakira Dyer

November 24, 2017 by richard

> Celebrating the artistic history of people with disabilities

Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell speaking at a DHM event in Portcullis House, Westminster

Shakira Dyer reports on Disability History Month 2017 and its focus on the arts

UK Disability History Month (DHM) has existed in the UK for seven years, but not many people know about it.

Running from 22nd November to 22 December, it is a month to increase awareness of disability and the struggle for disabled people to have equal rights in society.

Every year it has a different theme; this year it’s disability in the arts.

Recently I went to an official DHM event at Hamilton House in Euston. DHM creator, Richard Rieser explained how disabled people had been represented in the arts in the past, as well as how disabled artists represent themselves today.

Shockingly, in the past many artists depicted the disabled as people to be laughed at. This was parodied in LS Lowry’s ‘The Cripple’, a social commentary on how able-bodied people viewed disabled people.

The Cripples, LS Lowry, 1949

Some famous artists in the past were actually disabled or had a mental health issue themselves, yet we don’t think of them in this way today, as their impairments were sometimes hidden.

For example, Leonardo da Vinci is thought to have had Asperger’s syndrome, as he was very dedicated to his work but found socializing difficult.

Picasso and Vincent Van Gogh are known to have experienced depression. Picasso expressed this in his artistic ‘Blue Period’ where he used darker colours and blue tones.

The Blind Man’s Meal, Pablo Picasso, 1903, courtesy of Gandalf’s Gallery

Today, more artists and singers are opening up about their disability or mental health issue. For example James Arthur and Lady Gaga, among others.

At the DHM event, disabled artists such as Tony Heaton and Tanya Raabe-Webber displayed their art and explained how they explored themes of inclusion and acceptance.

Tony Heaton is a photographer and sculptor, creating art that shows both psychical and social barriers towards disabled people, particularly wheelchair users like himself.

One of his creations, ‘Gold Lamé’ suspends a golden car from the beams of a museum. In the 1970s people with mobility impairments were given a ‘special car’, known as an Invacar, because there was an assumption the drivers were ‘invalid’.

On his website, Tony says there was only extra space in the car for a folded wheelchair. “The single seat meant that you travelled alone, the assumption had to be that you had no friends, family, lovers.”

At the DHM event, disabled artists such as Tony Heaton and Tanya Raabe-Webber displayed their art

Tanya Raabe-Webber creates portraits of people, both disabled and non-disabled, in a caricature style. She explores the human condition using both traditional painting and drawing, as well as technology such as iPads. Many of her portraits have been featured in the National Art Gallery.

Another artist, painter and model Alison Lapper was a presenter in BBC documentary ‘No Body’s Perfect’. Alison has no arms due to phocomelia, yet she shows this doesn’t stop her from being beautiful. The documentary aims to convince four camera-shy young people, to gain the confidence to be photographed.

Disability rights activist Barbra Lisicki campaigned with the civil rights group DAN (the Direct Action Network) for accessible areas on the buses and other essential rights.

She explained that DAN’s t-shirts had been effective in getting people to notice their campaigns. Slogans such as as ‘P*ss on Pity’ challenged the stereotypical view of disabled people as an object of charity, while the slogan ‘Nothing About Us Without Us’ challenged the idea that disabled people had no say in charities representing them.

The group marched in protest and even chained themselves to buses to help raise awareness and change the law.

Although Barbra and others were arrested for their ‘civil disobedience’, the protests contributed to the creation of the 1995 Disability Discrimination Act, which made it illegal to discriminate based on disability.

You can read this BBC article about DAN’s campaigns.

At the event, we discussed how schools, colleges and universities could be taught about disability history. Schools could learn about famous disabled people who’ve made it in the arts (and other areas), who challenge negative perceptions of disability. The focus however should be on their artworks and their achievements, not just their disability.

What I think 
The event made me think about how the histories of so-called ‘minorities’ in society can be ‘lost’ or ‘swept under the carpet’ if they aren’t picked up by the mainstream, so that people on the outside and newer generations know what happened.

Hopefully the history of disability rights and art will not be lost. Online archives such as NDACA and ShapeArts are now being set up to preserve art by disabled artists for generations to come.

There needs to be more discussion of what is happening today to protect the rights of people with a disability or mental health issue, and ensure that we are no longer pushed aside. Although things are changing, disabled people still face barriers and social stigma imposed by society.

As inspiring as the speakers were at the DHM event, they came from the older generation. I’d like it if people younger people also spoke about their experiences.

For this year’s DHM, I’m working with a team of other disabled students at my university, King’s College London, to help launch events and raise awareness.

I’m also creating a website, Access The Arts, which will feature disabled artists from many different ages and backgrounds, showcasing their art and suggesting how they might be helping to change attitudes.

Shakira DyerOther articles by Shakira Dyer

Shakira is a visually-impaired writer and student at Kings College London, living in Tottenham. Loving history, literature and especially the German language, she wants to use all of these interests in a career someday. As a member of the Haringey Youth Council, Shakira represents the voice of young people in the borough, at local meetings and events.
Exposure is an award-winning youth communications charity giving young people in north London a voice. Please support us to continue our work. Thank you.


Launch Event 2017

November 23, 2017 by admin

Footage from the launch of UKDHM 2017.
22 November 2017, at Parliament, London.

Richard Rieser

Download the powerpoint here.


John McDonnell MP


Tony Heaton, Shape Arts

Download the powerpoint here.


Tanya Raabe Webber


Marc Quinn

Download the powerpoint here.


Louise Regan


Barbara Lisicki

Disability and Art – Secondary Assembly presentation

by admin

Given by Richard Rieser.
All info in the presentation is elaborated on in the 2017 broadsheet.

Disabled photographer, Kev Howard’s exhibition d-FORMED

by richard

Kev Howard at Home

Saltburn-based Kev Howard’s social documentary and observational photography has reached global audiences for more than a decade. He’s photographed hundreds of bands, poets, artists and demonstrations in that time – with a photo of Benjamin Zephaniah appearing in The Independent, and his photo of Saltburn-based writer Carmen Marcus gracing the cover of her critically acclaimed debut novel How Saints Dieearlier this summer.

Howard is also an accomplished musician, and has travelled the world as a didgeridoo player, appearing in an Australian Rock Opera plus festivals in Holland, Germany, Belgium and America.

Howard’s latest solo exhibition d-FORMED, help attract nearly 30,000 visitors to Middlesbrough’s Dorman Museum at the beginning of 2017. Following the positive response, Teesside University’s Constantine Gallery will be exhibited the work.

The exhibition sees Howard turn the camera on himself, exploring his lived experience of Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita (AMC) – a term used to describe over 300 conditions that cause multiple curved joints in areas of the body at birth. Howard has had 55 major operations as a result of AMC. With each new operation shifting his centre of balance, it’s meant that Howard has had to learn to walk 22 times.

Kev Howard, The Mask

What inspired you to put this exhibition together?

“A whole range of things really, everything from growing up in a generation where, in my opinion, disability rights are often just given lip service. So I decided to chart my own history, found that my body has its own story to tell, and the exhibition is based around that.

The reaction to the exhibition earlier this year was incredibly positive and, amidst all the uplifting feedback, it’s inspired Louise Logan to work with me on this Teesside University display. Louise is a PhD student whose work explores the varying different perceptions of disability, and she is inviting members of the public to join a focus group to help aid her research.

In doing so, she’s helped transform the exhibition into a project that may, somewhere along the line, help make a difference to the way that millions of disabled people are treated in future generations. She has already established focus groups with some students, but is keen to attract people from the wider community to get as broad a mix of opinions and perceptions as possible.”

Talk us through some of the exhibition, and the inspiration behind the photos.

The Mask

“This was the last thing I always saw before being anaesthetised for surgery. It instilled great fear and panic, which intensified up to the age of 8. The anaesthetic gas smelled ferrous and toxic. I knew the next stage was like the sound of a billion bees buzzing inside my head, and then a kaleidoscope of colours which came from nowhere. Then I remember a deep blackness, which fell into a pinpoint of circular light. At 8 years old my mindset changed, and the fear was replaced by a sense of ‘adventure,’ a coping mechanism that stayed with me right the way through to the very last surgery.”

Scarification in Abstract:

“This image highlights the scarification of multiple surgeries in the same area. This part of the foot has areas of hypersensitivity and extreme nerve damage.I really wanted to show the sensual curvature of the foot, but also the extremes within one scar. Where the scar finishes it is light, hardly noticeable. But, just a couple of inches away, it is heavy, gnarly and extreme, with an almost reptilian-like texture.”

Thin Red Line:

“This a very simple image that represents one of the most severe surgeries that I’ve had. The area was operated on 22 times over a nine-year period, and turned the bottom part of my left leg from facing backwards to facing forwards.A complex set of procedures involved the breaking and resetting of individual bones within the foot and leg, and completely removing the fibula, allowing the limb to be gradually rotated over a period of years. This image obviously downplays the severity of the procedure. And by this point, aged 8, I had adopted a coping strategy of ‘adventure’ instead of fear when it came to surgery.”

Kev Howard. Abstract d-FORMED.

Abstract d-FORMED:

“Here, I’ve hidden the flesh with various coloured latex and photographed it against a plain coloured backdrop, basically showing the limbs in coloured sculptural forms. I’m also expressing that, although we all have this basic form, some of us are very different in terms of our body shape – and asks people to think about why we often see beauty as skin deep or not.

“Basically, we live in an age when what is perceived as ‘normal’ is, by and large, unobtainable by the majority of people. We are constantly being fed images of a particular body shape and size, which is having a major effect in society in terms of self-esteem, well-being and acceptance. Thankfully, more and more people in the public eye are fighting back against this body-shaming and having to be ‘perfect’ all the time. We need to accept who and what we are in terms of how we look, and celebrate our own individual self.”

Blood on Their…

Kev Howard. Blood on Their...

“It was great to see Prince Harry and Barack Obama at the Invictus Games and, like the Paralympics, to see disabled people and their athletic achievements shining out on the world stage. But it would be even better to have the same level of equality and social inclusion that everybody else can take for granted on a day-to-day basis.

This image is my own response to both this and the previous Government’s lambasting of people with impairments, ill health and mental health issues – something that cuts across all the main parties. Successive policies and cuts in funding, particularly the loss of the Independent Living Fund and mental health budgets, have created an ongoing crisis for people in need of support.

“This is not only causing needless stress and anxiety to some of the most vulnerable people in our society, but people are actually dying as a result! Due to changes in the welfare system and the cruel use of sanctions, over 2,800 vulnerable people died within six weeks of a Work Capability Assessment from January 2011 to February 2014. And in the same period, around 10,600 people died within six months of being found ‘fit for work.’ Those figures had to be dragged out of the Government and, if anything, the situation is getting much worse.

“In fact, earlier this summer the UN described the Government’s welfare cuts as creating a ‘human catastrophe’ for disabled people in the UK. The thing is, everyone can see this if they look closely enough so, if Prince Harry and Barack Obama would fancy banging a few politician’s heads together and actually making a real difference, I’d be very happy to sit down with them and have a chat about this. Anyone got their number? No?”

Kev Howard’s d-FORMED is on at Constantine Gallery, ground floor of Middlesbrough Tower at Teesside University, Middlesbrough. Wednesday 15 November until Friday 8 December. 8am-6pm. Free admission.

From Disability Arts on line 14th November 2017

2017 Teaching materials overview

November 20, 2017 by admin

We have produced resources examining
a) the representation of disabled people across time and culture.
b) artists who were themselves disabled.
c) with National Disability Arts Collection and Archive (NDACA) the history of the Disability Arts Movement, which has sought since 1970s to promote the work of disabled artists and to challenge the oppression disabled people continue to face.

Download it here

2017 Broadsheet

by admin

We have produced a 2017 broadsheet – download it in pdf or word formats.

A printed version is also available. Order copies from UKDHM


2017 Day Conference

October 20, 2017 by admin

Find below videos and media for Art and Disability Day Conference, 21st October 2017
Presented in collaboration with NDACA



Richard Rieser

Download presentation powerpoint


Tony Heaton

Download presentation powerpoint

Breathe Nothing of Slaughter – Contradictions of death and impairment and sculpture of war memorials


Tanya Raabe Webber

Art and Disability

Portraits Untold

Revealing Culture Head On


Barbara Lisicki


Sarah Dormer from NDACA


NDACA Animations
1.Social Model

2.The National Disability Arts Collection and Archive

3.Portraiture and Representation

4.The Disability Arts Movement: Art and Activism infused


Alison Lapper

No Body’s Perfect

2017 Timeline

October 11, 2017 by admin

We want to examine artists who have been disabled, artists who have featured disabled people through a social model lens but also to understand the attitudes existing at different times over history towards disabled people through their portrayal in Art.

As a clear visual representation of this, we have made a timeline plotting different artists’ lives, working over the past 600 years.

View the timeline here