Take a closer look at disability arts

Henshaws Arts and Crafts Centre in Knaresborough will share its extensive experience in disability arts when it holds its first Artmaker Symposium and Festival in July.

Art maker Hannah sat on a mosaic bench with her arms wide open and a huge smile on her face

Two day festival

The event runs across Friday 8 July and Saturday 9 July and will begin with a series of talks from guest artists and facilitators in the field of Disability Arts. The symposium will be followed by a preview of the Centre’s artmakers’ exhibition.

Paper Workshop Leader Sharon Hockin said: “Our speakers practice and facilitate in the field of disability arts and our aim is to dispel myths, learn best practices, challenge stereotypes, share stories and celebrate creativity.

“We will hear from organisations trying to promote disability and neurodiverse arts; from artists who are successfully thriving in this world; those who collect this genre of artwork and those who facilitate and create such wonderful work.”

The symposium speakers are:

  • James Owen Thomas is an environmental artist who is an ambassador for the Tree Council and produces work from items that would otherwise be thrown away. James, who has autism also volunteers at the Arts and Crafts Centre.
  • Shirley Hudson is primarily a landscape artist and is a workshop leader at the Arts and Crafts Centre. Shirley has work in private collections and has held exhibitions and open studio events throughout her career including the Hebden Bridge and York Open Studios. She has exhibited her portraiture with The Royal Society of Portrait Painters and painted portraits for NHS Heroes.
  • Andrew Copley is an artmaker at Henshaws and has had several solo exhibitions and has work in the Barbican gallery.
  • Carol Douglas is a contemporary artist based in York and she collects “Outsider Art”, providing her link to Henshaws. She has held exhibitions at Partisan Café and According to McGee art gallery. She is promoted online by London gallery Broth Art.
  • Multi award-winning music producer, DJ and film maker. Rory Hoy first came to the public eye through his film, Autism and Me, in 2006. Rory is a long-term supporter of Henshaws, regularly DJ-ing at events and will also be appearing at the exhibition the following day.
  • Helen Ralli from Hart Club in London, a community arts organisation whose mission is to champion neurodiversity within the arts, visited the Arts and Crafts Centre in 2019 and was blown away by the work on show. The Centre then linked up with Hart Club for the Mythical beasts exhibition at Knaresborough Castle.
  • Gill Crawshaw founded DISrupt in Leeds, a collective of disabled artists who are working for change with the aim for disabled artists to get the place and recognition they deserve in the art world. Gill is a curator and draws on her experience of disability activism to organise art exhibitions and events which highlight issues affecting disabled people.

Take a chair

The Saturday sees the Take a Chair exhibition at the Centre, featuring work from its art makers and from local organisations, including St Joseph’s Primary School in Wetherby, Rosset Acre in Harrogate and the Wrenthorpe Centre at Pinderfields Hospital which works with children who are too ill to attend school. Individuals, groups and organisations have been invited to “upcycle” a chair while exploring the themes of inclusion and diversity.

Workshops with our art makers

The artmakers will also be running a series of workshops on the day, including painting, paper making, lino printing and multi-sensory sand art.

Among those running a session will be Andrew Morrison who will be explaining the art of paper making. Andrew said: “I have been coming to Henshaws since it opened 24 years ago. I have worked in the pottery and paper workshop. I love tearing paper into different shapes and sizes and I then arrange these into collages creating overlapped forms and patterns.

“Working with paper made me want to understand how it was made so I decided to learn using recycled products like egg boxes and shredded paper. I really enjoy the process of paper making and as my skills and experience has grown I have been able to teach and instruct my peers on the process and technique.”

Live music

The day will also offer a performing arts team and music from the Henshaws Hot Spots and Rory Hoy.

Art maker Andrew sat on a beautiful mosaic bench holding pieces of art he has made
Henshaws graphic with pink and purple shapes

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From fundraising events to volunteering, there are plenty of ways to give to make a difference at Henshaws

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