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Paul Darke's Blog - disability arts online
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Motion Disabled / 20 January 2009

It is my birthday today: I am 47 – that is 141 in handicapped years. It should be a time for reflection but it rarely is for me as I usually have too much work to do for which I am being paid too little (that is self employment for you). Anyway: firstly I am glad just to be here. Like many disabled people I grew up with the expectation of an early death. Don’t you just love doctors! Secondly, I would like to thank all those disabled people – and it has been almost all entirely disabled people – who have impacted on my life in a positive way (I will not name them as this would go on for page after page). The number grows each day as I put into place the 2nd Wolverhampton Disability Arts and Film Festival.

In 2008 we had a successful Disability Art and Film Festival in Wolverhampton. The only problem is – locally anyway – is that we are importing too many disabled artists from outside of Wolverhampton or even the region of the West Midlands. I know this is a result of the absolute failure of WMDAF in the last five years but one must – it is all we can do – look forward. And, I for one am still optimistic. Even with the single arrival of Wolverhampton’s own Disability Art and Film festival we are having a real impact (much as DASh do in Shropshire) for very little (relative) cost.

For example, on Thursday January 29th 2009 – we launch the major exhibition installation of the 2009 Festival (which will also feature as a key part of the Film Festival in April). So if you cannot make it then at the Wolverhampton Museum and Art Gallery you can wait until 24 April 2009 when it is also part of the Film Festival’s events). Motion Disabled is a motion capture installation of disabled people’s physical movements and It is made by Simon McKeown. The potential of the project is considerable - and it is with thanks to the Wellcome Trust’s People Award that it has happened. Like the best projects, art work, its potential to grow and develop is considerable and one which we hope to exercise to its fullest: in computer games; in education; to create an archive of a ever decreasing people; as a short film; a documentary; an installation; and to include more people and more content. Wish us luck!

It is worth noting that I first noticed Simon McKeown in the mid 1990s when I ran the Disability Film and Video Project for ACE whilst at WMDAF (along with Justin Edgar): we gave Simon a grant to make a small animation. From small beginning come great things: that is why I am optimistic. Little did I know I would working with Simon – as the producer of Motion Disabled over a decade later on an project of international significance and on a project with a degree of quality that I rarely come across in any art form, gallery or sphere of arts production (in the mainstream I mean).