Four artists have been announced as the inaugural recipients of the Emergence Bursary for emerging disabled artists, facilitated by the disability-led arts organisations Shape Arts and Disability Arts Online (DAO), and a-n The Artists Information Company.

The new project is aimed at tackling the isolation, low confidence and marginalisation of emerging disabled artists, as well the lack of accessible opportunities in mainstream arts settings.

The inaugural recipients of the award are: Lauren Saunders, Leo Wight, Letty McHugh, and Fae Kilburn.

Each artist will receive a £1,500 bursary award as well as bespoke support to help develop their practice during the coming year.

Drawing in the expanded field

Hull-based Lauren Saunders is a socially-engaged interdisciplinary visual artist whose practice explores the act of drawing in the expanded field.

On how she will use the award, she said: “I hope to improve the quality and scope of my practice, and increase my confidence alongside raising my profile.” Saunders added that she plans “to use this platform to speak about my lived experience and challenge the stigma around mental disabilities”.

Hebden Bridge-based Letty McHugh is an interactive artist and writer who creates long-running participatory projects that discuss the universality of personal experience.

She said: “This opportunity will be transformative to my artistic practice, enabling me to travel, research and create work that would have been otherwise impossible.”

Leo Wight, who is based in Glasgow, works predominantly with black and white analogue photography, using the medium to explore identity, sexuality, gender, queer culture and imagery.

He said: “I am very excited about the opportunity this bursary is giving me to get back into the darkroom and make new work. As well as this, the support provided by DAO and Shape will help me develop my practice and negotiate the art world as an emerging artist.”

Nature and personal histories

Birmingham-based Fae Kilburn is a printmaker who specialises in linocuts, wood cuts and mono-prints, using texture as way to investigate nature and personal histories.

She explained: “This will enable me to develop all aspects of my practice; by being creatively challenged and mentored I hope to write and talk more effectively about my work and learn complex new printmaking processes, moving towards a more tactile approach, which will physically engage people.”

For its initial pilot phase, from January 2019, the collaborating organisations will profile the work of the artists, as well as provide professional guidance.

In a joint statement, the organisations said: “We aim to disseminate findings about the barriers emerging disabled artists are facing in these tough times, as well as explore innovative access solutions.”

Josh Peter (@drawjosh), image for Emergence bursary.

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