All of the work that I do, write, make and create seeks to make the invisible visible. As a disabled person I have felt like a missing, I still often feeling like a missing, I don’t want anyone else to feel the same. As a creative practitioner I specialise in working with people that creative organisations and spaces often find easier to ignore. Or call ‘hard to reach’ – which seems to suggest that the problem is with that particular community, not in the barriers they face which are often reinforced by the places seeking to work worth them. This often comes down to access and building relationships, two fundamental parts of any work that I do.
I undertook some coaching and that’s when I had the realisation that all the creative work I had done, and want to do, fits under the umbrella of Writing the Missing. Once I said it out loud and drew myself a rubbish picture, it was astonishing how all of a sudden everything started to come together… Here you can learn how to contribute to the project, and read abut all the different strands it weaves together.
How you can contribute
Please help me to Write/Right the Missing! Please would you use the contact form and send me your missing. This could be something you physically miss, something personal, something you feel you’re missing from. It could be any of those things or none of those things. I promise to keep your missing safe and anonymous and to use it with care and kindness. You can read more about it on my blog.
Durham Book Festival Film Commission – Writing the Missing: A River Cycle and Disability Arts Showcase
I was commissioned by Durham Book Festival to create a film based on my New Narratives of the North East commission, ‘Writing the Missing: A River Cycle’. I have written, produced, directed and performed in the film, and have also been in the position to be able to commission three new pieces of work in response. These are from extraordinary North East disabled artists Bex Bowsher, Sarah Crutwell and Vici Wreford-Sinnott. Working with filmmaker, Rob Irish, I have transposed from page to film, creating something new. In a beautiful, startling and mesmeric lyrical dialogue with my brain, the river and the sea, I weave together character and setting to provoke debate and action: 25% of people in the North East are disabled, why do we not take up that cultural space?
With captions, BSL interpretation and audio description embedded from the beginning, this film shows the power of disability arts; that access is a right, a right which leads to creative freedom, innovation and wonder.
The film premiered on 10th September 2020 at 5pm at Durham Book Festival.
Little Cog Staging Our Futures Commission – Writing/Righting the Missing
In July 2020 I was awarded one of three Staging Our Futures commissions by the incredible disabled led theatre company Little Cog and funded by Arts Council England.
Little Cog Staging Our Futures commissions are aimed at disabled theatre makers who are pushing boundaries, questioning the world we live in and delivering powerful performance work. We want to support vibrant and pioneering artists who make work that provokes, excites and engages audiences.
I used the paid time and space to R&D (research and develop) a new piece of theatre, write an essay about ‘Who is it for?’, to create a disability toolkit, and make a short film.
Disconsortia Commission – Project Fear & Evolution – a strand of Writing the Missing
I was awarded a commission by Disconsortia for Project Fear and Evolution – a strand of Writing the Missing. To research and develop the beginnings of a workshop, or a ‘something’ which can provide a tool kit/space for others to safely and bravely fail.
New Writing North New Narratives Commission – Writing the Missing – A River Cycle
It’s unusual to find a competitive commission which completely fits a project which is your heart song. This was just that.
My commission for New Narratives of the North East is titled Writing the Missing – A River Cycle. It is a collision of poetry, verbatim text from interviews I’ve conducted with disabled artists, lyrical essay and manifesto looking at disability arts and crip culture in the North East, how we do not take up enough cultural space, and linking this to an ambitious form based on a river cycle. You can read it here.
The work was presented in a variety of forms from autumn 2020, including as essays, films, podcast episodes, and as part of a special digitally-focused Durham Book Festival, before being collected in an anthology to be published in 2021.
A novel for middle grade readers
How do you know that writing is for you, adventures are for you, the world is yours for the taking, if you don’t see yourself reflected in books on the shelves? My middle grade novel is full of adventure and intrigue, set in a lighthouse on the north east coast, and just so happens to be full of disabled characters doing all of the adventuring. It won me a place on the Write Now programme from Penguin Random House and secured me representation by The Bent Agency in agent extraordinaire Molly Ker Hawn.
Creative Leadership Programme – SSE
In July 2020 I gained a highly competitive and sought after place on the 2 year programme Creative Leadership, delivered by the School for Social Entrepreneurs and funded by Arts Council England.
It is designed to enable me to to develop and apply leadership skills in order to create greater social impact within the arts and cultural sector in England for the duration of the programme and beyond. I will be using the time to develop Writing the Missing as an ongoing project. It will give me time and space to work on the following:
- Develop personally and feel more confident about achieving ambitions
- Build a support network of people in similar roles
- Create greater social impact through my work as an artist/creator/maker/producer
- Improve my business and entrepreneurial skills
- Learn how to strengthen the project I work on
- Benefit from time to reflect and map out next steps