I have not written for a really long time and this is because it has been an incredibly manic month.
Our new temporary contemporary gallery has now opened in Fareham. It’s quite a big deal for us as it is also the first autism friendly gallery. To make it easily accessible for those on the spectrum and with sensory needs we have :
low level lighting;
social stories available;
PECS (these are in place of a lot of literature about the work and are simple illustrations and single words stating how to interact with the piece)
Headphones available to cancel out noise and
a chill out area with sensory toys, space blanket and beanbags
We also run drop in art sessions every day we are open so all people can come in and create and on a Saturday we run a drop in autism art session between 1-2:30pm.
To coincide with this being an autism friendly space our first exhibition is also a sensorial delight with installation that calms and engages the senses. I shall follow up with information about this in another post……. there are some strange looks at Fareham is more used to “traditional” art and our first exhibition has been confronting people with contemporary installation and some people are not quite sure what to make of it. I am happy about this though as it forces people to think and to confront what art is and what they think they know about it.
The private view went well. Thanks to my contacts at regional newspapers we have achieved some coverage (I did not like doing a video interview though, my wheelchair makes me look a lot bigger and like a block). We have also had some great discussions with a lecturer on a social work course who works with an artist on teaching a creative module on the social work degree and if we are still in the same place in October we will be working with them and their students in the space.
I am really proud of what we’re achieving. The fact that we are the first autism friendly space is fantastic. I did a lot of research for my MA about art and sensory processing disorders including autism and found that many artists who have ASD and related problems do not visit galleries for their own private view’s due to the problematic nature of many white cubes. There is also the fact that “autism friendly” is really only a term used to describe the sessions on offer. Galleries and museums need to do more than this to be truly accessible.
I really hope our new space provides a new way for galleries to look at making their spaces accessible for little additional cost and with relatively little effort, whilst maintaining the integrity of the space and what it is for.
I would also like to add that we also have an open call out for our next exhibition. The theme is “hope” (we are seeking work that is inspired by or reflects this word, this can even be the absence of hope). If you are interested in working with us and getting your work seen, plus the possibility of future collaborations I would love to hear from you. If interested visit http://liveartlocal.co.uk/hampshire_artist_opportunities/present-call-for-sticks-gallery/