THANK YOU for attending and participating in the launch of the #MagicCarpet tapestry at the iconic Art Workers' Guild on 24 April 2018. One of our intentions was to enliven the hall, which is decked with photographs of past brothers, with other different bodies, minds and thinking and being. And It was a lively evening. Aged 15 to over 65, you are a professional, researcher or student from: psychiatry, art, health, theatre, architecture, therapy, SEN education. You told us: ‘Loved it loved it loved it. Felt at home (underlined twice). So Happy! :)’. 100% of the feedback agreed or strongly agreed to questions: ‘The event was useful to my research/professional development and/or interest’ and ‘This event has challenged my understanding of how artists and scientists work together, and/or my own body and mind and that of others that are different to mine’.
Asked to name the highlights of the evening, audiences said ‘Meeting people the same as me - I am not alone!!! :)’, ‘‘Engagement with audience’, ‘debate’, ‘being introduced to different concepts and different ways of seeing things’, ‘The conversation was great’, ‘The artists to speak to, the speakers and the debate’, ‘Atmosphere’, ‘Diversity of definitions’, ‘Speakers’ ‘Contents’, ‘Discussing art practice + ADHD + a neuro-normative art market world’, ‘Discussing education - barriers faced by people with ADHD’, ‘Science-neuro-diverse-art’.
You appreciated the productive antagonisms and gained new insights: ‘Thank you for bringing us all together’, ‘I have gained a better understanding of what the possibilities are and the constraints that our society constructs place on us’, ‘A really engaging and interesting and thought provoking evening!’, ‘Well done!’, ‘I thought this was a very interesting evening and a very interesting discussion on both embracing and the definition of neurodiversity to different people’, ‘You are great!’, ‘I enjoyed everything’, ‘Keep doing more events. Thank you.’
Artist Jacki Cairns states 'Just wanted to say that I think the mat is amazing! You have reflected my thought patterns.' Dr Sarah Holme, editor of ADDISS newsletter and science communicator, states: ‘I really enjoyed it. Great to get immersed in the discussions about art, mind wandering, neurodiversity, accessibility and the rest, and what a fantastic panel. The place was buzzing.’ And our own guest speaker Ben Platts Mills says: ‘Thanks so much for hosting such a positive, intriguing and productive event […]. I think you achieved something very usual - a genuinely diverse and progressive format for people to express their thoughts. Great work. I also really enjoyed your slightly meandering approach to mediation! Somehow both provocative and reassuring at once. [My partner] said it was the best thing she'd ever been to of its type.’
Says Dr Kathy Barett, King's College London University Lead for Research Staff Development, says in August 2018: “I still think about your Art Workers Guild event as I learnt so much from it. I went to the Rodin exhibition at the British Museum a few weeks ago and was reminded of one of the attendees at your event talking about the sometimes negative reception given to work that appears unfinished. Quite a bit of Rodin’s work I would say looks unfinished, particularly in the context of that exhibition in which it was compared to Greco-Roman sculpture. Leaving it “unfinished” does not in any way detract from its beauty, in fact for me it enhances it.”
Feedback by one attendee who wrote in after the event was particularly heartwarming: 'I had an amazing time at the #MagicCarpet event at The Arts Guild. It was wonderful to meet so many like minded people. I came away with the over riding thought (and one that had been brewing for a while) that the Art World, the business of it, the 'professional approach' of artist statements, funding applications, articles etc etc etc is all geared towards a neuro-normative brain. I am able to do it - but it takes me time.... and as mentioned at this event I struggle to finish things. In my mind I have created a Turner Prize winning exhibition - I can see it all in all it's finished glory. But getting to that end point in real life is a huge undertaking, to concentrate on one body of work for that amount of time in order to reach a conclusion that satisfies the art establishment is quite frightening. But I am determined to try, even if I never quite get there. The system as it stands creates huge barriers for so many neuro diverse artists to achieve. I wonder if we can start a movement to challenge this? I have so much to say about my own practice regarding this that I couldn't condense verbally at the event - I AM finding ways around things and ways to manage my way of working. What I need to do is work on the communication of it - not to apologise to the arts establishment but a FIRM and CONFIDENT 'this is what I do'.
And our very own Arts Production Manager Alessandra Cianetti says: ‘Thanks […] for being able to gather so many different people and create such a proactive, engaging and safe environment for people from all disciplines to be part of the conversation (yesterday I spoke with NHS people, academics, poets, theatre-makers, students….).’
This is the text spoken by Jo Verrent, Senior Producer for Unlimited, during the #MagicCarpet launch on 24 April at the Art Worker's Guild, on 'neurodiverse art' and the opportunities and caveats of such a label: 'At Unlimited, we think it’s both simple and historically and politically complex simultaneously. At the heart of it, art is art and artists are artists – and the rest should be about choice. But it’s not. For disabled artists – or artists who experience access barriers due to the failure of society to adequately respond to the needs that exist due to their impairments – it’s not. If we were beyond the need for labels, then Unlimited wouldn’t need to exist. But the lack of access, constant erroneous assumptions about the quality of work by disabled artists, ways in which disabled artists have been historically side lined, discriminated against and exploited means that sometimes, labels can help. They can unlock funds, advice, guidance, structures and support. They can make a noise. Ideally can make change happen. Neurodiversity can be a contested term. Some see it not as a disability but as a separate aspect of diversity, preferring to describe themselves as having a different set of skills, abilities and ways of seeing the world. Interestingly, if you follow the social model of disability rather than a more medically framed approach – this can apply to all disabled people. And it’s this that makes the art of many disabled artists so unique, so engaging, so innovative… and appear so fresh, as due to exclusion, under representation and repression – we’ve not heard these voices often. And it’s when the individual voice of the artist speaks to a universal understanding that art, for me, weaves its magic most. When people get shown the world afresh, when the dull monotonous axis of our personal world just shifts for a moment. Great art does that. But only when an artist makes work that is true to themselves. And I think disabled artists, neurodiverse artists, are lucky as here they often have a head start – either because of the access they use to make work, or to simply navigate the world – they sometimes can’t be other than true to themselves – and we, the audience, get to benefit, however they or their work is labelled.'
The above is a gallery of stunning photographs by the outstanding photographer Marco Berardi, which fully capture the majestic space/stage/mise-en-scene that was the Art Worker's Guild (built 1844). Don't the warm colours, detail and depth-of-field evoke a dramatic, classical quality. Please credit all images Photography by Marco Berardi for #MagicCarpet/Kai Syng Tan 2018. The beautiful moving images are by Marth McAlpine. The credits for the video clips is: Videography by Martha McAlpine for #MagicCarpet/Kai Syng Tan 2018. If you require high resolution versions please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org