Jason Wilsher-Mills’ exhibition Unexpected Engagement marks the end of his year-long Square Peg residency at ArtLink Community Arts Centre. Having met Jason at Hull’s Disability Arts Network (DAN) meetings last year, and hearing his passionate advocacy for the inclusion of people with disabilities at the Engage Conference 2017, I decided to challenge my avoidance of exhibition openings and find out what he had been up to over the course of the residency…
Originally trained as a painter, Jason moved to digital media using an ipad and drawing tablet to work around his disability. During the Square Peg residency he has taken his own working process into sessions with several community groups such as Active Day Care Hull and Case Training. Using ipads, humour and digital pens, people have been enabled to tell their stories and “contribute to the disability debate” (Jason Wilsher Mills, 2018).
On entering the Artlink gallery space, a large 3D print called Bad Boy Billy (2017) makes an immediate impact. Billy is a fun figure with a serious message – highlighting the number of people in the world without suitable wheelchairs. The character is depicted sat on a space hopper, which makes a vital point in an ironic way. Digital Paintings, 3D prints, light-boxes and two short film installations show characters Jason created in collaboration with workshop participants. Two sections of vibrant and visually engaging digitally painted wall paper are (like his other artworks) packed with pointed social/political details embedded amongst illustrative depictions of people with disability and individuality. Extended reality stickers are placed throughout the exhibits, which when scanned with the available iPads, give a comment or fragment of information connected with the people whom Jason worked with to create the characters.
The opening of Unexpected Engagement was one of those rare occasions where those of us with disabilities probably outnumbered those without – a testament to Jason’s ability and commitment to build collaborative art through empowerment and relationships.
Jason Wilsher-Mills Square Peg residency has enabled others to tell their stories and share their aspirations. However, he does not stop at giving a visual voice to personal stories – his artwork also engages directly (through metaphor, character and text) in the wider political debate around disability and social exclusion.
Unexpected Engagement will be at ArtLink until 6 April 2018
for more information about the exhibition click here
View more of Jason Wilsher-Mills’ work at his website
For information and directions to Artlink please visit: https://www.artlink.uk.net/contact_us2.php
Delivering this week’s underlined project workshop at a Hull-based Memory Café was great fun, with some fantastic work produced and wide-ranging conversations. As a group, we shared experiences of time in Scotland, the efficacy of midge-repellents, what type of paper could represent water, and how to make a weir! We started the session by looking at the work people had produced in September’s workshop and discussing the visual qualities of my responsive piece based on their collage. This led into a discussion of collage techniques in general, during which we looked at the work of Kurt Schwitters and Henri Matisse, paying particular attention to the quality of edges, use of scale and the various types of material used. People then chose a place that meant something to them, and discussed what it was about the place that made it important to them. We then reflected on how we could communicate these places in an imaginative or abstract way, perhaps thinking about making important things bigger than expected or connecting unexpected objects from the same place. Everyone then set about making their collages, in an atmosphere of concentration and conversation. Some fantastic work was produced, from colour coordinated shopping bags in a shopping centre scene, to an individually styled bluebell wood cut delicately to produce a relief effect on the background, and walking boots approaching Ben Nevis, not to mention a quirky bridge with people looking over it!
Thanks to everyone who took part and contributed to making this such an enjoyable experience.
See below for some of the collage work produced by workshop participants. All the work produced from the memory café workshops will form part of the underlined project exhibition to be held in Hull Central Library, later this year. Watch this space for more information!
Click here for more information about booking a workshop
For more about Memory Cafe, and support for those affected by Dementias visit www.alzheimers.org.uk
I’ve had a busy morning cleaning scissors, collecting paper, preparing demo’s and getting everything sorted for the next underlined project workshop where memory café attendees will explore the subject of places through the use of collage.
Demo collage I prepared using the materials I’ll provide in the workshop, hopefully to spark off creativity in the group!
Wet-in-wet watercolour washes prepared on A3 watercolour paper as base for the groups collage – lots of variety to give personal choice in the work…
detail of demonstration collage showing cut and torn edges, different paper types and line drawing as options..