Alongside working in the arts, I have always also worked in accessibility; as a community support worker, special education assistant, university disability officer and Arts Emergency mentor. I have particular experience of working closely with people with learning difficulties, those on the autism spectrum and those experiencing mental illness, including psychosis, mania and the effects of abuse and trauma, and I’m therefore a qualified mental health and suicide first aider. I also have lived experience of some of these areas and try to be open about this, when appropriate, in order to do my part to reducing secrecy, shame and to put that experience and the learning I’ve gained from the mistakes I’ve made to good use.
The reason I make this clear on my portfolio website is because I view my research and lecturing as a natural progression from this experience; as much as from my art practice. What seemed like a useful way to pay the rent while moonlighting as an artist in my early twenties has become my vocation in life and I view teaching and art-making as caring professions, even if they don’t address issues directly. As both a recipient and provider of the Disabled Students Allowance, I have seen and personally experienced how art and educational can save and change lives as much as any therapy, if done in a flexible and holistic way. I therefore don’t differentiate my work from my personal and not always successful attempts to play a teeny part in a complicated world that should care more about itself, and I’m happy to make that clear. Below are some of the organisations I support: