Tanya Raabe writes about the Tate Modern sitting with Sophie Morgan, as part of her project 'Revealing Culture: Head On' / 1 February 2010
Well, the event of drawing Sophie Morgan in Tate Modern was certainly an experience never to be forgotten.Â I was a little nervous to begin with, at the thought of the public watching me creating my drawings in graphite and acrylic paint. As I strained to reach the top of my drawing board with my paintbrush and ink dropper, the audience were mesmerised.
People joined me in drawingÂ this spectacle. The day before I was wandering round the galleries researching artworks that depict disability in some way or other...I pickedÂ on 'The Pigeon Chested Man', a painting of a disabled man who was a performer in a circus inÂ 1929. Many people didn'tÂ know that this is how many disabled people made their living and were in fact proud to do so...not such a strange, out-of-date phenomena.
My parents met in the circus inÂ the 1960's. My mother was a trained ballet dancer who played a clown and my father was an animal trainer. Has anyone seen the 'Last American Freak Show?' This film is about aspects of disability culture, which are hidden and unspoken about. The public were fascinated - if not a little shocked by these facts.
So creating a spectacle-like event, painting a portrait of a disabled person by a disabled artist, I started to question: was I inviting people to stare? They were watching with intentÂ to have a go themselves. One onlooker was interested by the way that I didn't map out the whole body but started with the innerÂ parts, the nose, the eyesÂ then worked outwardly.
Sophie was an interesting model and is very much a disability campaigner...The IMPERFECT campaign has been launched to challenge perceptions of disability.Â And Sophie would like to be more involvedÂ in disability arts. Let's welcome her.
See me on BBC Ouch!
One of my sitters - Dr Sonali Shah - has pulled out. So I'm looking for another disability cultural figure. If you have any ideas please email me at email@example.com The sitter should be disabled, and have influenced disability culture today, yesterday, or be new on the block, but not an artist.
Was Matisse a disabled Artist?
See y'all next time.
Keywords: circus,disability art,disability professionals,visual art