After reading conversations online, across different artistic communities, Axisweb has been reminded that many artists who experience disabilities and/or chronic illness have long made work about the situations many able-bodied artists are facing as a result of recent events. Here are five great examples of work from our members about experiences of disability or chronic illness, featuring: Romily Alice Walden, Chantal Powell, Jason Wilsher-Mills, Anna Smith and Beth Davis-Hofbauer.
Remedial Geologies III, 2018
Remedial Geologies III, 2018.
613.5 x 446.5mm x 100mm.
8mm clear glass tubing, argon gas, mercury, HT cable, power supply
Studies in Self Healing 1, 2017
Lightweight concrete, steel, solid silver cast of thorned twig.
Sculpture from a series of small-scale works and collages conceived during a period of chronic illness and isolation. Fragility, self value, and transformation are the focus of these artefacts that speak to talismans and alchemy – a faith in ritual and self-healing. They can be read both as intimate portraits of the artist’s experience and more widely as symbolic explorations into humankind’s psychological states.
Powell still manages her art practice around the fluctuating conditions of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS/ME) and Complex-PTSD. Her studies into alchemy and depth psychology have been a huge support in her life and inspiration to her work.
When Routine Bytes Hard, 2011
This is painting is made on an iPad, and then printed onto watercolour paper, using the Giclee printing method. It is framed & mounted.
This is an installation consisting of a silicone ladder with mobility hand rails as the cross rails. There is also a shelf on the wall with a light bulb on it, and suspended from the ceiling is an empty light socket.
The Invisibility of Disabled Sexuality, 2016
The Invisibility of Disabled Sexuality is a piece that examines our relationship to disability and how disabled sexuality is something rarely seen or spoken about. When it is, it is usually fetishized (as in the case of devotees) or seen as something that has a freakshow element to it, only shown to serve a morbid curiosity. The Invisibility of Disabled Sexuality is a piece created to provoke reaction and simultaneously normalise disability.
The work was created in response to people’s assumptions that I (being in a wheelchair) could not be the parent of my children, and those who are particularly amazed when I venture outside with them on my own. I have even experienced friends who were shocked that my husband stayed with me after I got ill and told me how “lucky I was”.
The installation takes the guise of a bedroom, hidden in a blacked out tent. The room is designed to operate using two lights. Normal light via a lamp where the room resembles an untidy bedroom, only with a transparent vagina and penis, representing the male and female bodies. This then turns off and a blacklight comes on revealing the hidden sexuality of disability. Marks made with invisible UV paint, meshing the ideas of body painting and sexuality (the marks a result of a sexual encounter) are illuminated by the UV light.
Around the room is the ephemera of disability and life, a wheelchair, sheets, a bedside cabinet and lamp and a photo showing a couple together although the “me” has been replaced by a wheelchair covered and suffocated in clingfilm.
Published 20 March 2020