This site now acts as an archive only. For the latest news, opinion, blogs and listings on disability arts and culture visit disabilityarts.online.

Disability Arts Online

> > Colin Hambrook

Colin Hambrook established Disability Arts Online in 2004. Since then he has been editing and maintaining the journal and its social media outlets. In his blog he comments on aspects of stuff going in within Disability Arts and the specific arts programmes Dao is engaged with.. as well being known to vent the occasional rant.

Baptism of fire

1 December 2008

Blog

Ink drawing of a knitted yellow boat sailing across a blue sea by Colin Hambrook

In many ways I feel as if I was born into Disability arts. I was drawn me into it with a baptism of fire and haven't looked back. At the time there weren’t many mental health survivors in Disability Arts – and there was a fair bit of debate about whether we belonged or not. My involvement was a natural progression, something I felt I could put my heart into, despite and maybe because of, how difficult and painful it can be at times. I could relate to the social model rhetoric...

Comments: 0

Auckland here I am ... just about

24 February 2009

Blog

I am writing from Auckland, New Zealand. I'm lucky enough to have been invited out here for a shortened version of Momentum09 - set up and run by Philip Patston of diversityworks. It's been great meeting some of the disabled artists in the disability arts movement here and finding out about how the movement is working out here. The pace of life is so much slower and more relaxed, it seems ... I've met up with Pauline Alexander from the UK and we had a wonderful meeting with Tim Turner yesterday...

Comments: 0

Momentum09

28 February 2009

Blog

photo of performer

Momentum has been a difficult occasion for everyone involved. Philip Patston described his experience of it as being like driving a ten ton truck and suddenly hitting black ice and careering out of control. I can’t imagine myself in his position, trying to keep faith and to keep face in the shock of having caused those people who had booked their flights in advance, to lose so much money. Many individuals lost their Arts Council funding to make the trip. We had a difficult welcome in...

Comments: 0

Art of Difference Festival: Melbourne 2009

12 March 2009

Blog

photo of Just Us theatre company

Art of Difference is a disability and deaf arts festival produced by Gasworks in South Melbourne between 10 - 21 March 2009. I have the privilege of attending the first week of the festival and reporting on it for dao. Coming to grips with the size of Melbourne has been somewhat daunting after traveling through the relative smallness of Auckland and Wellington. I arrived from New Zealand late last Monday, tired and jet-lagged. I made it to the hotel bar to be greeted with a g-day by a guy named...

Comments: 0

Touch Compass on the radar

14 March 2009

Blog

I was very excited at the prospect of seeing Touch Compass, having met several of the artists from the programme whilst I was in Auckland where the company is based. Tim Turner, Rodney Bell and Suzanne Cowan all talked about their work with such passion and commitment. When disabled artists (or artists with disabilities as is the preferred term in Australia) take their work into a professional arena they are driven to give several hundred per cent. There is an extra determination needed....

Comments: 0

Touch Compass: The Sleep of Reason begets Monsters

17 March 2009

Blog

photo of dance group

Harmonious Oddity – the triple bill by Touch Compass presented over the first three nights of the Art of Difference Festival began with a piece of Dance for Camera called The Picnic made in 2003. Imagine a bizarre Victorian garden party envisaged through the lens of Alice in Wonderlands' looking glass, peopled by an eclectic mix of strange folk. Playing with images of circus freak show, the piece was a highly polished, original and entertaining whirl around the theme of a pleasant summer...

Comments: 4

Art of Difference

22 March 2009

Blog

I attended a lot of cabaret performances at Art of Difference. The first reaction to being in Gasworks Arts Park was that it was like being at the Dada-Fest, which takes place in Liverpool every year – the big difference being that we were in the sun. However there are differences between Disability Arts and Deaf Arts culture in Melbourne and generally in the UK. Firstly, everything here is a lot more non-disabled led. On an organisational level, things possibly tend to run more smoothly...

Comments: 0

Artists Debating Identity

21 June 2009

Blog

photo of artist

In the 1990s LDAF used to organise debates, which, truth to tell, became circular arguments centering around the question of what is Disability Arts? We somehow never seemed to get beyond celebrating difference and protesting righteous indignation that nothing should be made about us without us. With disabled people at the helm the world was going to be a better place. Dissing the Social Model was tantamount to letting the side down and any critical debate was stifled by polemic disguised as...

Comments: 9

Colin Hambrook drops in on the Edinburgh Fringe

16 August 2009

Blog

I’ve been away for the past week, staying in Dunbar with friends. I thought I’d pop in on the Edinburgh Festival to see what disability-related arts I could find in the theatre section. From looking through the brochure it seems there is some mental health-related work amongst the enormous panoply of shows, exhibitions etc, happening this year. So I made it into town to see Steve Walter’s An Acute Psychotic Episode (II) – billed as “a good-humoured, confessional, raw, honest,...

Comments: 0

Colin Hambrook needs to learn to take it easy ...

25 September 2009

Blog

black and white drawing of a figure against a backdrop of moon and star

I’ve been at sixes and sevens the last couple of weeks. You know how it is – sometimes impairment can get the better of things. I count myself lucky to be in a position where I can do work which affords me the comfort of allowing me to manage the daily slog of M.E. related restrictions. I have just met with Gaelle Mellis – the dynamic artistic director of Restless Dance Company in Adelaide. We talked a lot about that thorny issue of identification. It is so understandable why...

Comments: 3

BAFTA bans screening of one of X'08 films

4 February 2008

Blog

When I sit down to write, it is rare that I know exactly what I’m going to say or how I’m going to frame it. I’ve run circles around myself over the last week thinking and making notes on scraps of paper [usually a pretty hopeless exercise as the notebook invariably gets lost]. I’m torn between issues and feelings. The fact is that I’m very cut up about the cutting of LDAF. I know that it has been struggling – like most if not all disability-led...

Comments: 0

The Press continues to pick up on the BAFTA fiasco

17 February 2008

Blog

It seems that the Guardian (Friday 15 February) has taken up our cause by publishing a very erudite piece by Mat Fraser championing disability film - ie film made by disabled people about disability. He cuts to the chase explaining exactly why we are fed up with Hollywood's persistent patronising, demeaning and sickly portrayals of disability. Mat lists some of his pet hates. Top of my list has to be 'A Beautiful Mind' starring Russell Crowe as a schizophrenic who has clearly watched 'Rainman'...

Comments: 0

Arts Council cuts

8 January 2008

Blog

Digital image by Colin Hambrook

Well the New Year came in with some devastating news in terms of Arts Council funding. It appears that 194 arts organisations who are currently funded by Arts Council are being cut. Of the few disabled-led art organisations in existence, two are to be axed this coming April, both the National Disability Arts Forum (NDAF) and the London Disability Arts Forum (LDAF). The importance and relevance of disabled-led work cannot be under-estimated, both in terms of culture and equality of opportunity...

Comments: 0

December 2007

18 December 2007

Blog

Digital image by Colin Hambrook

Okay we're heading for the end of 2007. It's been a monumental year for us at DAO, having finally got some recognition from Arts Council that we have something worth investing in. I have been a passionate advocate of Disability Arts for many years now and strongly believe that it has a place within the arts landscape which is worth taking note of ... I guess there is no telling how things will shift over the next few years. Certainly there has been much change during recent years, with more of...

Comments: 0

Colin Hambrook reviews Liz Carr's 'It hasn't happened yet'

4 November 2007

Blog

Photograph of Liz Carr by Graeme Cooper

It's rare I get out and about on the Disability Circuit these days, what with the pressures of family life and constant ongoing health concerns. BUT I was very fortunate to catch Liz Carr at the Peoples' Show Studio in Bethnal Green at the end of the month. It was one of the most original, and definitely the funniest piece of disability theatre I've seen in years. It began with a few gags from the creative director telling the audience what a load of rubbish we'd come to see. I wasn't sure if...

Comments: 0

DAO Reader's Survey

20 November 2007

Blog

I understand that reprobate Crippen's missus has become a blog widow! I'm not surprised. Jeni - do you realise I've got a proposal from him here - 500 words a month it says! He sure knows how to make his words count ... or should that be count his words!? Any road-up, I'm delighted to have Crippen on board. (yes I know I'm supposed to say that) His cartoons have been lighting up my life over this past month - which is just as well since I can't afford ligthbulbs at the...

Comments: 0

Getting into the groove ...

12 May 2009

Blog

I have been slowly getting myself back into the groove since getting back from Australia. Big thanks go to Jon Pratty for managing DAO in my absence. I saw some terrific work in Australia, met some great people and learnt a lot from the process about my journey through Disability Arts. On a personal level it has been a difficult time. At the beginning of this year my son began treading a similar journey to my own disability-wise - and it has made me reflect a lot on who I am and how I got here....

Comments: 1

Colin Hambrook reflects on the second Artists Debating Identity event at Shape

16 October 2009

Blog

On Thursday 15 October Shape held their second informal conversation, led by Michèle Taylor - this time targeted at performing artists. Recognising the current lack of a platform for disabled and Deaf performers to come together to share ideas and talk about prevalent issues, Shape has created an ongoing event where 20 or so disabled and Deaf people can come together to talk openly and honestly. Michèle set the tone by opening the debate with a showing of Liz Crows’ film...

Comments: 6

Colin Hambrook reflects on the Rethink Parliament programme

8 November 2009

Blog

photo shows a woman with glasses talking to a man wearing a suit

Dao has been working with Parliamentary Outreach, Rethink and artist Rachel Gadsden on a project which looks at the relevance of the parliamentary process to people who have been through the mental health system. We reported on the pilot project Breaking Barriers and are due to film a story about the Rethink Parliament workshop programme, which is being rolled out across the UK until July 2010. John Bercow MP launched the Rethink Parliament programme in the Jubilee Room on 5 November 2009. He...

Comments: 0

Colin Hambrook wishes the good ship dao and all who sail in her a Happy New Year!

29 December 2009

Blog

Crippen's cartoon about younger disabled people

2009 was a year of extreme highs on the dao front and lows in terms of dealing with personal impairment issues. Big thanks to all our writers and bloggers for helping us bring disability arts online alive - and to Jon Pratty for taking over the reins. Crippen's irrepressible humour has kept us entertained all year. I think his Old Farts cartoon probably has to be the one that sums up the challenges ahead for 2010. We've been secluded in our disability arts tower for years now. The signs are on...

Comments: 6

Colin Hambrook responds to Tony Heaton’s talk about his sculpture as part of Shape’s ‘Animate’ programme on 4 February 2010

10 February 2010

Blog

Great Britain from a Wheelchair sculpture by Tony Heaton

I’ve known Tony Heaton since 1993. He’s always been very enigmatic, passionate and down-to-earth in his approaches to the projects he takes up. I came into the disability arts movement in the wake of Shaken not Stirred - a piece of performance art installation that became a defining moment in disability arts history for many people in the disabled peoples’ movement. The title came from a quote from James Bond who always liked his martinis shaken not stirred. Apparently Ian...

Comments: 1

Colin Hambrook is mad!

23 April 2010

Blog

a print of a face screaming

I apologise for not writing for a while. I've been falling out of trees - Oaks mostly - under the misty moon-breathe of a schizo heart. No dwelling place where explosive smiles burp on every street corner, taking you down to where the walrus begins. And all the demons turning into butterflies. You wish! Very little makes sense when the periodic table takes a hold of all the thoughts that trail the world forever: in peace the last upwards spilling rain, soaking the sky and telling me with a...

Comments: 1

Colin Hambrook continues to be mad...

10 May 2010

Blog

painting of a man injecting large needles into another man

Living with disability can get extreme sometimes. For me, living in the wake of so-called 'schizophrenia' has meant a lifetime of juggling the darkest emotions like tennis balls. My relationship with the illness has been a lifelong struggle... one of those things you are not meant to own up to. It's a guaranteed conversation-stopper. Even within the disability community you are not guaranteed an empowering response. Reference to the illness can be a great way of losing acquaintances you are not...

Comments: 5

Colin Hambrook continues in the shadow of Ian Dury...

23 May 2010

Blog

photo of actor playing Ian Dury

I saw the last show of Fittings Multimedia's Raspberry at the Clocktower, Croydon on 14 May. It was (almost) everything I hoped for with some great songs; a fantastic cabaret-style performance from Garry Robson in the role of Spasticus - a cockney-rhyming pastiche of everything that made Ian Dury great! The off-setting of Garry's play-along delivery with the superb vocal range of Sally Clay, made for engaging entertainment with a disability message. Sally sings a mix of soul, jazz, operatic and...

Comments: 3

Colin Hambrook comments on Outside Centre's 'Stamps of Disability' website

3 June 2010

Blog

Outside Centre logo

Outside Centre is a disability arts oganisation, working within the Social Model of Disability, whose primary objective is to celebrate and promote disability and disabled people through arts and culture. They have produced Stamps of Disability - an online collection of postage stamps from across the world that depict disability. Searchable by theme and by country they cover everything from Beethoven to Princess Diana's Anti-land Mine Campaign. In many ways postage stamps play a similar role to...

Comments: 5