Benedict Phillips ‘​How to be Dyslexic​’ Kickstarter Campaign

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Launching on the week of 2nd March 2020 artist Benedict Phillips Kickstarter Campaign aims to raise £8,500 towards the production of a new book ‘​How to be Dyslexic​’. The book will be published to accompany a major exhibition of Benedict’s work that will take place at Gallery Oldham from June to September 2020.

image of the artists wearing a red conical hat, standing in frot of a blackboard

The Red DIV (2011). Image © Benedict Phillips

This artists’ book goes far beyond commonly held perceptions about the experience of being dyslexic. Dyslexics are born, then they are made, and then shaped by their experiences. There is a huge focus on the idea of the illiterate child being an individual who is to be pitied, supported and praised until they finally become normal. Very little is said about life beyond the in-school experience of being dyslexic.

‘​How to be Dyslexic​’ chronicles Benedict’s experiences and research through photography produced between 1995 and 2020. It includes an introduction by Colin Hambrook editor of Disability Arts Online; an essay reflecting on the ‘​Agender of the Agresiv Disleksick’​ by dyspraxic and dyslexic dancer and academic Aby Watson; 80 colour photographic images; a new polemic by Benedict Phillips; and an A-Z of dyslexic ideas and reflections that explore the personal, political, historical, social, and digital future of being dyslexic.

photo of an artists' book

A Benedictionary. 2011. Image © Benedict Phillips

Benedict is an artist with over 25 years’ experience of working with organisations, institutions and communities to deliver residencies, publications, exhibitions and public commissions. Benedict’s practice encompasses photography, sculpture and performance, addressing his profound dyslexia as well as responding to the people and places where he finds himself working. He has delivered projects in partnership with organisations ranging from architecture centres and city councils to museums, galleries and the NHS, as well as large scale public artworks and civil sculptures.

Publishing continues to play an important role in Benedict’s practice. He is a published poet and author of the world’s only ‘Lecksick to Dislecksick’ dictionary, ‘​A Benedictionary​’ as well as numerous editions of handmade books and limited edition photo books. Most recently, he has produced a series of works as part of PO Publishing in collaboration with archaeologist and photographer John Oxley. Benedict’s photography, artworks and handmade books are widely collected and displayed in private and public collections including the Tate, MOMA (NY) and the V&A.

mockup of a page spread

Mock-up page layout for ‘How to be Dyslexic’

‘​How to be Dyslexic​’ is a limited edition artist’s book that reflects Benedict’s journey over the past 25 years.

Produced in a limited edition of (750) copies, the book will be a 180 page, 210mm x 158mm hardback printed by fine art book specialists Pressision in Leeds.

The contents of the book will include:
● An introduction by Colin Hambrook, editor of Disability Arts Online
● An essay by dislexic and dyspraxic academic and artist Aby Watson from the Royal
Scottish Conservatoire, reflecting upon the ‘​Agender of the Agresiv Disleksick​’ (first published by Disability Arts 25 year ago) and exploring its significance and meaning to her as a cultural artefact.
● 80 colour photographic images produced in the UK, Europe and USA between the mid – 1990s and the present, including rarely-seen images as well as many new works.
● The images also include some of Benedict’s best-known works that explore the invisible experience of dyslexia, expressed visually through photography.
● A detailed index providing a deeper understanding of the history, context, and function of the images.
● A major new piece of writing by Benedict Phillips and an A-Z of dyslexic ideas and reflections.

mockup of a page spread

Image: from the series ‘How to be a Dyslexic Artist’ © Benedict Phillips

Since the publication of the ‘​Agender of the Agresiv Disleksick​ in 1995, Benedict has explored social and political ideas of difference through photography, sculpture, performance and video, revealing the alternative perspectives that being “very good at being disleksick” can bring. His art, films, writing and actions demonstrate that through a polarised dark neurodiverse experience, he can shine a light on the way that we all think and navigate the world around us. ‘​How to be Dyslexic​’ celebrates 25 years of Benedict’s work around dyslexia as well as accompanying his first large scale solo exhibition of work on this theme.

Presented by Gallery Oldham, artworks in the exhibition,​ Being Benedict Phillips,​ will include: the ‘​Benedictionary’​, a dyslexic dictionary with over 2500 alternative spellings; his persona The DIV, represented in the exhibition through photography & video; a new performance featuring The Black DIV alongside new photographic and sculptural works. These artworks may at first appear to just be about dyslexia, but as you look and explore further you will see common threads and experiences that unite us as humans.

Benedict says: “Exploring and communicating through doing and making images is fundamental to human nature, despite the text-heavy society that we live in. My work is deadly serious about some flippant attitudes within society as well as being deliberately provocative and humorous about the harsh experiences of this life”.

How to be Dyslexic​ publication represents a major milestone in Benedict’s practice to date, celebrating and drawing together 25 years of dedicated work exploring issues and ideas around dyslexia. Though there is now an abundance of advice and support available during school and college years, it is the nature of dyslexia as an invisible disability that, despite its prevalence (estimated at up to 4 million individuals in the UK), it is extremely rare to see opportunities for dyslexic adults to discuss their relative experiences.

Benedict’s current three year project seeks to address this through initiating conversations and debate in the form of workshops, lectures, exhibitions, performances and an exhibition, all of which will feed into this book to provide a stimulating and challenging work for anyone with an interest in the relationship between words and images.

Whilst the content of the book has been supported through funding from ACE and other funders, the campaign seeks to raise essential production costs for the printing of the book. The book is being offered at cost in order to make it accessible for as many people as possible. Any additional funding raised beyond the target will allow copies of the book to reach schools, libraries and collections around the UK, ensuring that it reaches an even wider audience.

Benedict says: “​This book is also for teachers and parents and anyone who wants to know more about neurodiversity. Recently I heard that a neighbour’s six year old had been suffering from the same kind of barriers that I did 40 years ago. These are the kinds of barriers that institutions put up in your way when you try and deal with the situation of being dyslexic, inspiring me to offer introduction letters with the books for schools and other institutions​. With your help this book can help break down the barriers and open up the conversation. Please support my project by buying a book and telling someone else about ​How to be Dyslexic.”

For information on Benedict Phillips ‘How to be Dyslexic’ Kickstarter Campaign go to thediv.uk

For more information on Benedict’s work go to Benedictphillips.co.uk