Let’s face it, I am not getting any younger. I am hitting the big 5-0 this year: my boobs are a trip hazard, my chins like to go forth and multiply, and I couldn’t tell you who is in the charts. 50 is the age when you can get help from AGE UK and holidays from SAGA. I don’t think they do activities for staunch and unswerving agent provocateurs, even though they had the punk generation to cater for before me.
It is a bit unfair as I did not have a youth because I was too ill and too isolated to have one, and have been trying to make up for my life in recent times. I am proud of what I have done as a creative but I can’t go on forever. I want younger artists to cause trouble, be irreverent in the same areas I do. Rachel Rowan Olive is an amazing artist who uses humour and intelligence to highlight the bullshit that is STILL rife in psychiatry. I have known of her work for a while now and featured her work on DAO when I was guest editor.
So it was good to stumble upon another artist who uses art to confront bullshit and be fierce and beautiful. Thanks to Joe from Disability Arts Online, as part of their Artist Associate Programme, I was introduced to Instagram. I was quite wary and skeptical of ‘influencers’, I am more of a deterrer! But there was a lot of awesome art and photography, and of course cute animals. I signed up and started posting my artwork interspersed with pics of my gorgeous pup, Scamp. I started off by following a few people I knew, and slowly my understanding and enjoyment of Instagram grew. By far, it is the social media platform that provided me with the most useful contacts and opportunities. There is a whole army of disabled troublemakers on there!
A couple of weeks ago, I got a private message on Instagram from an artist whose handle is wheely_good_time aka Eva Luna-Rose. She describes herself as a disabled activist in training. Her artwork is funny, ferocious and fuck you. I love it.
She asked me if she could draw me. I said that would be lovely. It makes a change from a police artist doing it (that’s a joke, dammit). She asked me to send her a few photos, which I did. I tried to sneak one with a sheep in but she chose the one where I look like I am behaving myself.
She then asked me to write something on disability that could be the caption incorporated within the text. I sent her more lines than she needed. I sent her the following lines: “People think disability means the person is broken, when it is more like the world is broken. We are seen as lesser beings with an assault course of a physical and attitudinal environment to deal with. Would you call the person broken if they had to walk on broken glass to get to work? Our landscape is littered with the debris of normality’s bullshit. Normality is asking too little of me, and too little of everyone. And maybe I don’t have mental health difficulties, maybe I have living in a judgemental, brutal world difficulties.”
In the end, she went for: “People think disability means the person is broken, when it is more like the world is broken.”
She says of her work: ‘My artwork is mostly motivated about being part of the online disabled community. I love the process of people getting in touch with me to say they experienced something similar or go off on a tangent which then creates more work. It’s a completely circular process because it’s like a conversation, always growing and changing!’
So here is my portrait
Find out more about Eva at https://www.instagram.com/wheely_good_time/