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Jon Adams' blog - disability arts online
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Jon Adams: Someone’s had all the flippin mints - part four 'the white rabbit is back in his hutch’ / 27 December 2010

graphic of a selection of mints

Graphic of a selection of mints by Jon Adams

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Sunday – another trip to London: Imperial War Museum private view of the Lord Ashcroft gallery. Another simple trip – just a train and a walk, the IWM being within ‘striking’ distance of Waterloo, this time south of the station.

The train – ‘a long version’ with decent seats this time was going to be full – mildly surprised by this unexpected ‘Sunday aspie-irritation’ I settled down to write with headphones on.

I had been to the IWM as a member of the access group influencing and looking at the design of the new Victoria Cross gallery for 18 months. At the beginning we were shown round the older gallery, plush cases filled with precious artefacts’ but very ‘old style’ – certainly not ‘disability friendly’

The new gallery was to be up on the 4th floor, an open space similarly shaped to the inside of a Nissan hut (a very ugly way of describing it)! The first time I visited the space it had an exhibition about man’s inhumanity to man and coupled with the excellent Holocaust’ exhibition on the floor below made you think we don’t have much ‘danger’ to complain about.

As I sat and wrote, shielded by the music, I remembered how we had seen the galleries development over a quite a few sessions and the new friends I had made as part of the access group. It would be interesting to see what of our suggestions had been taken on board and what was included. I was secretly hoping the 57 miniature model

Japanese planes to represent one VC winners far east ‘situation’ had been taken up and added to the display – I had even told them where to get them!

And then there was the tiger shark. Sharks have figured in my life since a young child – ever since I found my first fossil tooth when I was 12. Little did I know I would end up studying their ancestors at university and now 30 years later weave this into my work. Life can become convoluted?

After arriving and exiting from Waterloo into a crisp lunchtime I made my way to the Museum a short walk away. Having entered and revealing all to the security person who asked to see in my bag I walked past the ‘Buff’ Jagdpather, ‘green’ sectioned V2 and the disturbingly empty, spare ‘atomic’ bomb casing. I had grown used to seeing.

Up in the lift and there we were. I was early and seemed to be one of the first in – FAB. The space worked well and to my delight there were the planes, shark and even comic books. The displays still being readied were far more accessible than before.

After sharing a cup of tea in the conference room with a few of the others on the access group I went and sat downstairs – surrounded by all this ‘machinery of war’ and the words ‘courage’ made me think about the current ‘buzz’ about disability and leadership. Not in the traditional and patronising sense of ‘bravery’ but about how some people will get up and ‘follow’ not because they are told but by being stirred by example.

You don’t get up one day and say I am going to ‘lead’? You react to an ‘on the spot’ opportunity, a moment and just do it. Maybe leadership is not about taking everyone with you but knowing it’s right to leave some behind?

Coming out into the bright and relative stillness of the park, walking back to Waterloo there was a rainbow, quite a calming moment. Dreading the ‘full’ train I bought 2 cans of cider to ease the journey and settled down with headphones on again - becoming an inconspicuous 8 year old ‘reading’ my reproduction ‘Victor’ comic.

Keywords: dyslexia,visual arts