Sunday, 30 March 2008

poem about friends

Friends are important
Important to be a friend
Real friends
Fake friends
Make friends
Break friends
Gain friends
Lose friends
Long term friends
Short term friends

Monday, 3 December 2007

disability 1

I have discovered that I get most of my ideas for my paintings through unplanned meetings with strangers on day-to-day bases. I take these situations, which can be sometimes negative and try to make them into something positive in my work. When people meet me for the first time, they are often unsure how to react to my disability and me. Are they scared, frighten, embarrassed, shy? What? I use these feelings as imageries along with images of my friends and family to create both large and small paintings. These feelings, which affect me much more than I realise are a background to my work.

My studio work is very figurative and colourful and my main approach to my work is to use humour as I find myself often in wired situations. As I travel alone on busses in London, I often get funny looks and receive stupid questioning. This I try to incorporate into my paintings. The oddness and weirdness from other people I have to deal with everyday. It used to upset me but now I’m stronger and I use it to my advantage. I create work using the situations I encounter and paint these. Also I get very frustrated when a person tells me that I can’t do something because of my disability or patronised me. This gets me going, my thoughts and feelings and somehow turns these situations into something constructive. Knowing I can express my feelings on paper and canvas.

I am thinking of the time when a person at my disabled boarding school said to me that I should give up now and not go on to do A-levels because I wouldn’t be able to cope. She just advised me to go and work in an art shop because I wouldn’t get anywhere in the art world. Obviously I didn’t take her advice but sometimes I remember this conversation and make me more determine than ever! Just imagine if I wasn’t strong enough to put two fingers up at her and without the support of my family, I don’t think I would be at the Slade. The fact one-person can dominate the way your life can turn out. The little conversations with people can be vital in life and can change people’s perception.

I have always been interested in artists, exhibitions and have enjoyed expressing myself on paper from an early age. I think as I have a physical disability Cerebral Palsy, and as I couldn’t talk, I used to use my drawings as a way of communicate. I used to get so frustrated with my disability that I needed some way of escaping so I found that in drawing. I always use to feel jealous of my older sister because she could and was allowed to do things I wasn’t allowed or couldn’t do. Somehow I managed to overcome this by drawing on paper. Maybe I felt independent through my drawings. Through my creativity, I feel I am not judged on my disability and for a slight moment I can pretend to be able-bodied. I love being creative because when people look at my paintings and drawings, they haven’t a clue that I’m disabled. I really think I can play on this and use it to my advantage. I have my own personal language that some people can understand. I don’t talk in big and elaborate words and because of this I think my work speaks for itself. My disability effects my speech and hand movements and this is sometimes frustrating!

During my first year at the Slade I found it difficult as I came across lots of challenging situations. I felt angry with myself as I let things get on top of me and circumstances built up until there were harder for me to deal with. I was annoyed that I just put up with things when I knew they weren’t right. This frustrated me, as so therefore I didn’t manage to produce the ideas of the work I wanted to do. But now I realise this and through my studio practices, this essay and the right studio support, it will hopefully help me to overcome it and help me to move forward. I also feel I wasn’t my true self last year. I want to show how pissed off I can get with unknown strangers and what’s it is like to have a disability.

However my disability comes to my advantage when it comes to the work. My uncontrollable hand movements and moments of sheer frustration bring spontaneity to the work. Without being able to verbally communicate with strangers at first, my work acts like a visual voice. I feel I can express myself through my work and can get my views across. I use a lot of humour in my work and I enjoy making people laugh because I love having a reaction. .

Another positive side of last year, I came across the artist Lucy Jones. I went to see a solo exhibition of hers at Flowers East in the East End. As soon as I looked at her style I insitly could relate her work. I have only seen one exhibition by her entitled ‘Looking At Self’. Jones’s style and subject matter is so powerful and the moment I saw it, it really inspired me to pick up a brush and try to paint. It influenced me in many ways. Firstly her style is very similar to mine. It is figurative and I can see a relationship between her work and mine. When I realised she had the same disability as me, it gave me such encouragement to just go for it. In her work I particularly enjoy her facial expressions and the way she paints her body in an awkward way, all her hands are tight and her body is wonky. In her paintings she uses her disability and is not afraid to show that she has problems walking. Her use of bright colours just draws me in.

In my paintings, I want to research my physical appearance, - I don’t mean everyday appearance, but the fact I walk differently and sound differently. I want to try to use my disability as much as it uses me. I want to use it more in my work and sometimes make the viewer feel awkward, embarrassed and uncomfortable like some people make me feel when they stare at me. I want them to realise that sense of what it’s like to be stared at.

Sometimes the comments I receive upset me but I have just got to laugh about it otherwise I think I would go mad! I want to show people that it is not all right to stare and patronise me, but if they do, they have got to take my reaction. I get patronise nearly everywhere I go.

My conclusion is the fact people are very ignorant towards disabled people. They think they know a lot about disabilities in the fact that people assume that if someone has got a speech defect that they come to the conclusion that disabled people are either deaf or stupid but in fact they haven’t got a clue. I get this a lot where as soon as they hear my unsteady voice, they start talking really slowing and loudly to me.

I don’t want self-pity, or to be patronise, or to be put down. I want this battle between able-bodied and disabled people to be over and make people realise that I am no different to them. For me, I don’t want there to be any barriers in my way!
It was suggested to me by a friend that I should write more. This is funny, as I
can’t write a thank you letter without hundreds of mistakes in it. Although I am very creative, I express my words through the marks I make on the canvas. The canvas is my blank empty page. Ready to tell an untold story – not sure what’s the beginning or how it’s going to end. I can’t really communicate with strangers. As I have a speech difficulty, my paintings are my words, my voice.

I’m waiting to receive a text. The fact I can’t pick up the phone to call someone for the reply to my simple question is frustrating me. The phone beeps. I stumble around the Nokia brick with my shaky hands trying to unlock the phone, got to have quick reactions to unlock this phone.
‘1 received message’.
After a couple of minutes, I manage to unlock it. I open the message, and it’s not from the person whom I am waiting to hear from. I quickly text a reply back and go to the laptop.

Finding the website Facebook is like finding my proper voice. A voice that everyone can understand. I can pretend I am able-bodied on it. Nobody asks you to tick a box saying ‘Are you disabled?’ I love it, I can talk to people who I wouldn’t never dream of phoning.I’m in town and I need to know how to get somewhere. I start asking a stranger the question and as I start to speak and I notice the person’s scared look in their eyes, their blank expression on their faces. I wait a moment in silence and suddenly they nod and agree with me. I wait a bit longer, for an answer, which never seems to come. After a moment I realise I will never get my answer to my question. Should I repeat myself? I catch their eye again and with a deep breath I slowly repeat my question. I will stand here all day and repeat myself over and over again if I have to, if that what it takes for them to understand me. Then the statue like figure in front of me finally loosen up and I hold my breath for an answer…Back in my studio I reflected on what has just happened. I splash some paint on the canvas and I realised I’m back. I’m back in my world again.