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 and primarily to this day keep 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 and 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 and carry my feet, wheelbarrow style, and we would explore woods, climb over streams, run across fields and scale flights of stairs. I remember once, exploring around an abandoned overgrown Victorian 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 careers adviser at my school that due to my disability, I would forever be an under achiever. They were doubtful that I would get into 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 and completed a BA Honours Degree in Textiles.
I lived in London for a total of 15 years, enjoyed my time at Goldsmiths College University of London and during this time also competed at two Paralympic games, in 1988 and 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 and 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.