Disability Arts Cymru announces inaugural Arts Prize Winners

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On Friday 3 July 2020, Disability Arts Cymru announced the winners of the DAC Art Prize Awards – Visual Arts and the Creative Word, as part of a launch event hosted on Zoom.

Photograph shot in a car's wing mirror of a person holding a camera

Roy Barry

For the inaugural Arts Prize, the theme chosen was ‘Outdoors:Indoors’ which invited Disabled and Deaf Visual Artists from across Wales to submit work for a touring exhibition, in four locations across the nation. The thinking behind it was based on challenging the notions that everyone can participate in the great scenic opportunities that Wales has to offer.

Once this was announced, Covid-19 lockdown happened, and people began to experience what is was like to suddenly lose liberties and freedoms to go about their usual daily activities – akin to many disabled people. Some of the final submissions responded fully to this, enriching the final selection.

All four participating galleries curators, plus 3 international artist/curators made decisions on which works to include in the exhibition, plus deciding on the overall award recipient and two highly commended awards.
The four galleries involved are: Galeri in Caernarfon, Cyfarthfa Castle in Merthyr Tydfil, Cynon Valley Museum & Gallery in Aberdare and Oriel Davies in Newton. Sadly, due to the lockdown, the first two galleries are not able to physically open and the exhibition will be launched on-line from 3rd July 2020. We hope that the exhibition will open in situ at Cyfarthfa Castle on 1st October 2020 until 3rd November and then move to Oriel Davies in Newtown on 10th November 2020 until end of January 2021. On-line activities and artist talks will be programmed across all four galleries.

Alongside this event, DAC developed a Creative Word Award in partnership with Literature Wales, undertaking a call out for Disabled and Deaf writers to respond to the same theme as the Visual Artists, with emphasis upon the lockdown. The judges for the Creative Word were, Dominic Williams, Tom Wentworth and Denni Turp.

The awards were presented by Jane Hutt, Deputy Minister and Chief whip, Rachel Jones, CEO of Arts & Business Cymru, Phil George and Nick Capaldi Chair and CEO of Arts Council Wales. Andrew Miller, the UK’s Disability Champion for Arts and Culture opened the event.

This year’s visual arts award of £1,000 goes to Roy Barry for his work, ‘Indoors/Outdoors’.
The Highly Commended awards go to Dave Peacock for A Helping Hand and Gail Howard & Sophie Millien for ‘Tŷ sy’n Siarad (scream into the void motherf**kers)

This Creative Word award is made to Kitty Belltree for Coup-19 – a response to the current pandemic. It is powerful, poignant and well deserved.
The highly commended Creative Word awards go to Electra Rhodes ‘Held as Stone’ and Catherine Davies – ‘Nursery Rhyme’.

The Arts Exhibition has now been launched as an online gallery, but it is hoped that it can be hosted physically, possibly at Cyfarthfa Castle in October and Oriel Davies, Newtown in November. All four galleries are hosting online events as part of the virtual tour.

Nick Capaldi, Chief Executive of Arts Council of Wales:

“Being denied the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors during the Coronavirus pandemic is the kind of exclusion that is a daily experience for thousands of disabled and Deaf Welsh people. Disability Arts Cymru Awards allow us to enjoy some exciting work by disabled and Deaf artists, as they also use the arts to challenge us all to think about how we can help to remove the barriers that stop people from enjoying the magnificent Welsh landscapes that so many of us take for granted.”

Ruth Fabby MBE, DL Director of Disability Arts Cymru said:

“We are delighted to offer these opportunities to raise the profile of the many gifted artists based in Wales. Arguably it can be said that many people are currently experiencing a forced exclusion akin to those of us who live as disabled within our society. Yet, through art we are able to demonstrate resilience and tenacity about living this way. We hope this exhibition and creative writing publication will serve to create diverse messages to invite debate in appreciating and valuing all our lived experiences as necessary to make up an embracing and humane society.”