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Bringing disabled

audiences and
artists together
to develop
innovative and
accessible projects
Cover: Audience
members participating in
Poorboys performance
The Angels Share.
Investigate Create was a three
year project, led by Artlink, that
brought people with sight loss and
people with hearing loss together
with artists to develop innovative
collaborative work that explored
how their experiences can inform
work which is accessible to all.

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Artlink has been working with It
was innovative,
disabled audiences and venues inspiring,
in Edinburgh for over 30 years to exploratory,
increase access to the arts. Participants entertaining
know that Artlink will respond to and delightfully
their interests and pick up on their socially inclusive.
ideas, and this core of collaboration Some Bat-
and encouragement is vital to the squeak Echo
success of our projects. Through of Other Time
our work we have met amazing, audience
creative people bursting with ideas member
and keen to take part in the arts.

In many of the discussions we have


had over the years, participants

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Its
pushing your expressed frustration that access
boundaries and is often thought about after an
doing things you exhibition is open or a performance
did not think is on tour. There was also frustration
you were capable about the lack of involvement
of doing. in developing access. Investigate
Let Loose Create took these concerns on
participant board and placed individuals
experiences at the centre of
developing new, accessible work.

The projects have been as varied


as the people involved and have
taken us to some unexpected places.
Working with artists Greg Sinclair

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and Kate Temple, individuals with
hearing loss have explored ways
to communicate and collaborate
within workshops. Tools used to
facilitate discussion, such as text and
an electronic notetaker became key
creative elements in performance and
visual art. Ken Cockburn explored the
National Library of Scotland through Its
been a chance
description and prose, collaborating to really examine
with visually impaired participants. how we engage
This culminated in a performance with audiences
that opened up the library for and what we
audiences with sight loss and at the offer them.
same time revealed new possibilities Sandy Thomson,
for staff. Using taste, sound, smell Artistic Director
and story in a performance, Poorboy Poorboy

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Above: Participants immersed us in Greyfriars Graveyard.
relaxing and talking Descriptive, narrative and sensory
in Sandy Bells pub experiences offered new perspectives
after Poorboys of the city. Performances and events
performance. brought people together and opened up
discussion about personal experiences,
views on the artworks and ideas for
new projects. We found crossovers
between individuals interests and
artists practice. Audio description - a
usually functional service flourished
as creative writing and performance.
A lively discussion about loop
systems invigorated individuals with
hearing loss and new media artists.

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Discussions like these and the Right: collages
insistence that participants inform our made by Let Loose
work have led Artlink to be ambitious particpants using text
about the creative possibilities of based instructions.
developing accessible art. We are
excited about the work Investigate
Create produced and the possibilities
it opened up. We are delighted that
venues and artists have been inspired
to continue developing some of
the ideas. We are proud that some
participants have found confidence
in their creative abilities to instigate
their own projects, join a course at
Edinburgh College of Art or make
props for a local drama group.

Individuals experiences have been


central to developing and shaping
Investigate Create, so it is fitting
to now share the projects through
reflections on the work. The following
accounts from participants and an
artist share different experiences
of Investigate Create, show ways
people have benefitted from taking
part and offer some advice.

For an archive of Investigate Create


projects and resources we have created,
please visit www.investigatecreate.co.uk

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Consultation
as
conversation

Anne Dignan has been involved


with Artlink since 2009 and has
taken part in several projects
exploring audio description with
artists and poets. Anne attends a
wide range of art events and often
uses Artlinks Arts Access service
which provides a volunteer driver to
accompany her. Anne has hearing
and sight loss, at events she uses
loop systems and relies on audio
description. The following account
is from a presentation, Consultation
as Conversation, which Anne
gave to museum and heritage
professionals in November 2014.

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Above: Participants One early memory of being involved
enjoying a handling with Artlink that stands out is
session at the Pandoras Light Box which was a
National Library collaborative project to create a
of Scotland. descriptive poem about the interior
space of the Talbot Rice Gallery.
This involved poet Ken Cockburn
and ceramicist Fran Priest. We were
invited to a series of workshops
with the artists to contribute our
impressions of the space and to
discuss how the recorded poem could
be listened to in the gallery. I am
very proud to say that the title for
the whole project was chosen from
my description of one of the rooms.

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What do I get out of my involvement The
emphasis is
with Artlink? I find the experiences on collaboration
varied and challenging, enabling between the
me to learn new skills. We come artists, the staff
together with likeminded people and ourselves.
and the rewards are great. Our Everyones
lives are enhanced and enriched opinions matter
socially, mentally and emotionally. and they are
respectfully
Artlinks projects with galleries, explored in a
museums and libraries demonstrate structured way.
care, consideration and constant
evolution. Artlink links us with
venues and organises events. Its Below: The Angels
a privilege to get expert insight, Share audience
especially from the curators, to be participating in a
close to the objects and books - tactile element of
sometimes even handling them. the performance.

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Above: Discussion Consultation should be a two-
between an artist way process. By receiving feedback
and a participant first hand, organisations would be
during Poorboys more directly connected with their
research project audiences. Likewise, individuals
Grist to the Mill. would benefit from learning about
curation and selection processes.
When this happens every one
learns through the consultation
process and I feel valued and not
just part of a faceless demographic.

The link in Artlink is being


strengthened and is expanding to
include more varied and interactive
experiences. Through reflection,
consultation and revision we
are enabled to access an ever
widening set of experiences.

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A twilight
performance on
Calton Hill with
artists Phil Smith
and Siriol Joyner.
A
win
win
situation

Ann Thallon has taken part in


Artlinks work with people with
hearing loss since the beginning of
the project and her input has been
key to the projects evolvement.
Ann has taken part in creative
writing, drama, dance and visual
art workshops with enthusiasm.
Most recently she has been a core
member of Let Loose, a collective of
artists and individuals with hearing
loss exploring contemporary art
and learning from each other.
The following account is from a
discussion about this work between
Ann and Susan Humble, Artlinks
Audience Development Officer.

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Above: Let Loose Ive loved the challenges the fun,
participants the shared purpose. Over time we
interpreting artist all got to know each other better
Kate Temples and became a real team. It was an
instructions on even playing field with hearing
the beach. and non hearing; artists and the
group all learning, getting ideas
from each other. The artists grew
together and with us, there was good
chemistry and a real connection.

I had a ball and part of that was


seeing everyone working together,
developing ideas, experimenting,
performing in front of the group and

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feeling delighted with the result.
We were in a safe environment,
free to experiment and I always left
smiling. Yes, we had fun but more
than that, we enjoyed interacting
with each other and our confidence
grew. Because of the support put in
place using text, the loop system
and the electronic notetaker - our
brains were freed up from struggling
with the communication so we could Below: Let Loose
relax into the buzz of creativity. participants
discussing collages
In all the workshops we were well they produced
supported and that was valued, it gave using text based
freedom from constraints caused by instructions.

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Above: Participants our hearing. We felt brave enough to
playing a word game try something new and we were all
developed by artist successful and had a feeling of success.
Anthony Schrag, as
part of the Text in The positive effect of the workshop
Art workshops. goes way beyond the two hours we
had together. It has really made a
difference to me. When you have
Artlink
gives that feeling of success, you then take
people so many that out into the big bad world which
wonderful is very healthy. At times my mind
opportunities, goes back to the Artlink situation
challenges them and I think Yes I did that! Then
just the right you relax, your shoulders go down.
amount, helps
them find new Its been a real confidence booster
confidence which and well worth following through
is such a win win with another project. Looking
situation, because ahead, having an end product to
then theyre work towards would push us further
brave enough and give a sense of purpose as its
to try more. then not just for ourselves.

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Linger
on a
detail
Juliana Capes is a visual artist
with extensive experience of
collaborating with visually
impaired people. Impressed with
how evocatively Juliana uses
language to interpret artworks,
Artlink have worked with her on
a number of projects, pairing her
with a poet, writer, musicians and
visually impaired participants.
In these projects, the description
is thought of as an artform and
presented to audiences of both
sighted and non sighted people.
She has also shared her expertise
with gallery staff, enabling more
venues to offer descriptive tours.
The following insight from
Juliana has been adapted from
the documentary Linger about
Artlinks creative approaches.

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Above: Artists Description can be quite formal if
Juliana Capes and you just follow a formula, but it
Laura Cameron can also be a very creative thing,
Lewis perform Drift a very poetic thing. The Artlink
at the Dalriada bar collaborations brought that out in
in Portobello. me and gave me more freedom to
get lost in a metaphor or a bit of
hyperbole to create the imagery.

Whilst providing verbal description


for visual arts, Ive learnt that
understanding art goes beyond the
eyes, encompassing all the senses,
the intellect and the emotions.
Having something described for you
encourages analysis and sparks new
ideas - it can be a revelation. For me, it
is a chance to debrief the act of seeing,
a luxury, time to linger on a detail.

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Artlink have been really supportive The
process of
and interested in the creative potential description can
of verbal description, and I have be akin to the
been fortunate to work with them on making of a
projects that seek to develop and take painting. Painting
that process further. In commissioning and describing
artists such as myself to collaborate both begin by
with other creative practitioners, such looking, and
as the poet Ken Cockburn or actress when you are
Laura Cameron Lewis, Artlink do a doing this on
rare and valuable thing: they respect someone elses
the creative process. When you are behalf this needs
trusted to follow that process then real to go beyond
developments can happen. Its about the obvious and
trust. Trust in your abilities as an artist. ignore your own
Trust in your abilities to engage an visual cues and
audience. Trust that youll find a way. shorthands.

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Acknowledgements

Participants
Martin Ahrens, Liz Anderton,
Michael Brown, Muriel Cassie,
Adrienne Chalmers, Hilary Davies,
Anne Dignan, Ann Henderson,
Dorothy Hendery, John Hendery,
Beryl Homan, Maddi Kent,
Marianne Laszlo, Pat Maison,
Muriel Matheson, Maureen Miller,
Sister Mary Murray, Alan McIntyre,
Elena Nicholson, Fiona Powell,
Hilary Rae, Marianne Ferguson-Rice,
Ella Robertson, Phillida Sawbridge,
Rita Simpson, Catherine Steyn,
Angus Swan, Ann Thallon,
Bertha Walker, Nuala Watt,
Dennis Wilson, Alyson Woodhouse.

Thank you to all the Arts Access


volunteers who supported the project.

Artlink staff
Susan Humble
Audience Development Officer

Kirsty Williams
Audience Development Officer
(maternity cover)

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Projects
Let Loose
Exploring collaboration and
communication with individuals
with hearing loss to develop a new,
interactive performance with artists
Greg Sinclair and Kate Temple.

Text in Art
A series of artist-led workshops exploring
text in art. This was a research and
development stage for Let Loose.

Grist to the Mill


A two week residency with Poorboy
to explore and develop access
creatively within performance.

Calton Hill Constellations


A twilight performance responding to
the historic and evocative site of Calton
Hill with visually impaired participants
and artists Phil Smith and Siriol Joyner.

Linger
A film sharing Artlinks creative approach
to audio description with responses
from visually impaired participants
to the performance Linger at the
Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

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The Angels Share
Using climate, sounds, smells and
tastes, Poorboy developed a short,
immersive work for sighted, partially
sighted and blind participants.

Drift
An audio story by artist Juliana
Capes and writer Laura Cameron
Lewis interweaving narratives from
generations of women with connections
to Portobello Prom across their lives.

Some Bat-squeak Echo of Other Time


Poet Ken Cockburn explored the
National Library of Scotland as a
building and a collection with visually
impaired participants, creating
a performance weaving fictional
texts and descriptive passages.

Exploring Cramond
An exploratory performance in Cramond
with artists Siriol Joyner and Phil Smith
and visually impaired participants.

Workshops, Training and Discussions


New Media and loop system technology,
artist sharings, sighted guiding and visual
awareness training, Deaf Awareness
training, verbal description training.

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Acknowledgements

Artists
Dave Boyd, Lucy Boyes,
Hamish Brown, Laura Cameron Lewis,
Juliana Capes, Ken Cockburn,
Frances Cooper, Brian Ferguson,
Hugh Hillyard-Parker, Jenny Hulse,
Inner Ear, Lorna Irvine,
Siriol Joyner, Annie Lewis,
Amy Elisa Lowe, Stuart Mitchell,
Kirsten MacDonald, Eilidh McCormick,
Laure Paterson, Poorboy,
Jeremiah Reynolds, Anthony Schrag,
Yann Seznac, Greg Sinclair,
Phil Smith, David Stinton,
Elaine Stirrat, Liz Strange,
Kate Temple, Sally Thomas,
Sandy Thomson, Daniel Warren.

Partners
Collective, Deaf Action,
National Galleries of Scotland,
National Library of Scotland,
New Media Scotland, RNIB.

Funders
Creative Scotland, Robertson Trust,
RS McDonald, Agnes Hunter Trust,
Peoples Postcode Lottery

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27
Artlink
13a Spittal Street,
Edinburgh,
EH3 9DY

0131 229 3555


info@artlinkedinburgh.co.uk

www.artlinkedinburgh.co.uk
www.investigatecreate.co.uk

Artlink Edinburgh & the Lothians is registered in Scotland No. 87845


with charitable status Scottish Charity No. SC006845.