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Aidan Moesby has just installed ‘Do you think we can talk about this?’ at the Centre for Life

We live in difficult times. The National Portfolio funding came out – a few of the organisations we are all familiar with suffered. Arcadea – my local disability arts organisation didn’t get any funding at all. Geof Armstrong is at the helm and steering through the storm admirably.

How can the Arts Council claim to be promoting disability and disabled artists in the region (let alone nationally). How can it just ignore a whole cohort of artists, audience, producers etc in the North East? This decision leaves Manchester or Liverpool or Wakefield as my ‘locally’ funded organisations. But enough of that.

I was fortunate enough to meet Elinor Urwin from the Art House in Wakefield to go through some of my rejected applications. This was a brilliant – if not a bit difficult – use of an afternoon. There was so much material – so many rejections – to choose from. To have some simple pointers and some incisive analysis on my approach was invaluable. It is difficult to get feedback from applications, though I always try. Yet it is so contradictory. 'Too conceptual'; 'not conceptual enough'; 'too prescriptive'; 'not prescriptive enough'; 'too flaky'; 'too detailed'. How do you make sense of it? Well, having the objective eyes of Elinor reflect on this brought some clarity. So thank you Elinor – and congratulations to the Art House on their continued funding.

Why is it that artists (I have not always been an artist) have to say they are busy, or working on this or that. Why can’t they  just say "it’s really REALLY hard out there and I’m struggling." I know why. You have to boost your own stock. No one wants an artist who isn’t busy etc etc. So I am blessed with all this time and cursed by the low moods of under employment. The irony is that I have a few exhibitions on and coming up – which is fab – but jam for tomorrow doesn’t put food on the table today.

I have just installed ‘Do you think we can talk about this?’ - a solo exhibition at the Centre For Life in Newcastle, which opens next weekend – the 16 April. It is a collection of pieces which reflect on my personal experience of diagnosis 'Bipolar Disorder.' and weaving in elements of the personal and cultural agenda surrounding mental health. 

It runs for a couple of months. Can we talk about mental health? At once we are fascinated by those perceived as kooky, off beat, crazy and then we tire of them and vilify them and perpetuate the stereotypical images and viewpoints of those living with an enduring mental health condition. I hope we can talk about it. I hope we can get a right good open honest discussion going.

Posted by , 11 April 2011

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 12 April 2011

Aidan Moesby asks how do they get away with this 'quality journalism'?

Apples and Snakes posted a Facebook link to an article by Alex Hudson on BBC News entitled 'The Creative Process and Mental Illness'. The basic tenet is that mad equals creative.

I really don't like these catch all assumptions and wrote the following brief retort. Is this really balanced and considered?

Spare me from 'cheap journalism' that uses the link of madness and creativity/poetry These kind of articles peddle the usual stereotypical visions of the mad creative. Over diagnosing, reframing things like shyness into social anxiety disor...der - so it can be pathologised, medicalised and medicated increases the number with 'diagnosis' and the 'Big Pharma' profits.

In other words, poets are 20 times more likely to end up in an asylum than the general population.' what tosh. The so called asylums are not full of poets - stats can show anyone anything. If you look at a copy of Diagnostic & Statistical Manual DSM (iv) everyone could be diagnosed with a disorder.

These kind of articles do nothing at all for those with enduring mental health issues but perpetuate ridiculous myths and oh - what about those with mental health issues who aren't creative - Doubly Damned and unfortunate?What do you think?

Posted by Aidan Moesby, 14 February 2011

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 15 February 2011