A Brief History... of a Female, Artist, Athlete, Wheelchair user
Born in the 60’s with a disability, Spina Bifida, doctor’s did not expect me to survive my first 24 hours. So the fact that I continued to grow and develop through my baby years and into childhood was somewhat a curious surprise to the medical world. I am grateful for the introduction of antibiotics, which were created in the late 50’s & primarily to this day keeps me alive.
I was extremely active as a child crawling everywhere to get about. This gave me incredible upper body strength and made me physically very independent. There was very little I could not do or get to. I would climb and get everywhere and anywhere, particularly into & onto those places that were the most tricky. I was always up for a challenge. With flip flops on my hands for when the ground was rough, friends would lift & carry my feet, wheelbarrow style, and we would explore woods, climb over streams, run across fields and scale flights of stairs to name a few. I remember once exploring around an abandoned overgrown Victorian style derelict house but was devastated when it was finally demolished.
I was sent to a ’special’ boarding school from the age of 10 years, by my parents who felt it was the right thing to do. I was then returned to my parents in the North West at 16 having been told by the career's adviser at my school that due to my disability, I would forever be an under achiever, it was doubtful that I would get to University so therefore it was not worth the system paying for me to have another days education. My parents were dismayed by such a system, however I proved the system wrong by completing college, gaining the qualifications I needed to get to university & completed a BAHon's degree in Textiles.
I lived London for a total of 12 /15 years, enjoyed my time at Goldsmiths College University of London & during this time also competed at two Paralympic games in 1988, & in 1992.
When you have a disability, whether you're born with one or whether you become disabled through either illness or an accident, society continues to undermine & presume what they feel you are capable of. Being an equal is sadly still very much not an option.
As an artist I am fortunate that I can use art to express and communicate with the world by hopefully turning what can be a frustration of life into a beautiful experience.