Unlimited, the largest supporter of disabled artists worldwide, has announced awards to 26 artists and companies totalling over £550,000. The awards will help support the development of new artistic work.

Funded by Arts Council England, Arts Council of Wales, British Council and Spirit of 2012, and delivered by Shape Arts and Artsadmin, since 2013 Unlimited has provided nearly £4 million to 280 disabled artists through commissions, awards and support.

Unlimited Commissions includes four different types of award. Seven main commissions have been given to projects by established disabled artists and companies, and are designed to help develop an idea through to production and presentation.

Recipients of the main commissions in the visual arts include Anna Berry for the kinetic light installation, Breathing RoomJustin Edgar for the gallery-based mockumentary film, Reasonable Adjustment – The Disabled Armed Resistance Movement; and Suzie Larke‘s ‘Unseen’, an exhibition of new conceptual photography dealing with experiences of mental health.

Also selected are Bim Ajadi (Here/Not Here, combined arts); Byron Vincent (Instagramming The Apocalypse, combined arts); Cheryl Martin (One Woman, theatre); and Tarik Elmoutawakil (Brownton Abbey, combined arts).

Ten Research and Development Awards have been given to mid-career artists to help explore a new creative project. There are two awards in the visual arts: John Finn for Finn’s Fish Tank, a haptic art project involving a human-sized fish tank; and Forest of Dean Sculpture Trust Partnership Award recipient Kristina Veasey, whose Basketcase is an interactive, audio-visual sculptural trail.

Other recipients are: Ailis Ni Riain (Pencil Piano – Koji Nishioka, music); Jonny Cotsen (HHA (Hearing Hearing Aids), theatre); Matilda Ibini (A.I.D.A.N., theatre); Natasha Sutton Williams (Lesbian Pirates!, theatre); Rhiannon Armstrong (Cradled, combined arts); Rowan James (A Room Full of Elephant, literature); Sophie Hoyle (Psychic Refuge, combined arts); StammerMouth (Fluff, combined arts).

A further six Emerging Artist Awards will help practitioners to develop or produce a new artwork or participatory project. The recipients, who span a variety of disciplines including the visual arts, theatre, literature and dance, are: Christopher PaviaEllen RentonJoAnne HainesSonny NwachukwuSop, and Stephanie Anne Back.

Finally, three Strategic Commissions will fill gaps within Unlimited’s current portfolio of works. The Studio of Sanctuary is a project by The Art House in Wakefield which works with artists who are seeking asylum, with this particularly commission focusing on the work of current artist-in-residence Mohammad Barrangi Fashtami. Shawanda Corbett‘s Cyborg Ceramics is a new body of work combining contemporary ceramic techniques and cyborg theory. Second Hand Dance, meanwhile, will research a new improvised, interactive performance, Touch.

The works were selected from over 270 applications, which were then reduced to a shortlist of 50 projects. The final selections were made by three panels made up of at least 50% disabled arts professionals and artists, representatives from Arts Council England, Southbank Centre and Wellcome Collection, and chaired by an independent disabled person.

David Hevey, chief executive of Shape Arts, said: “This superb batch of artworks in receipt of Unlimited’s awards showcases perfectly disabled creatives’ brilliant capacity for artistic innovation and break-out content. These ambitious projects are provocative, dangerous, challenging and cast light on the way we all live now, and I am very much looking forward to seeing how they develop.

“I am hugely delighted that they show so well the importance and success of Shape’s purpose – to remove barriers for creative excellence to grow, impact and change the creative landscape for all.”

1. Sea Sharpe as part of Brownton Abbey by Tarik Elmoutawakil. Photo: Victor Frankowski

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