Artist Spotlight: Disability Month edition

In this special edition of Artist Spotlight, we look at a whole host of talented artists and their contribution to the arts and culture world.

Tony Heaton

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Sculptor Tony Heaton is associated with the disability arts movement, being awarded an OBE to services to the field in 2013. His activism greatly inspires his art; creating such works as ‘Great Britain from a Wheelchair’ and ‘Monument to the Unintended Performer’, a piece used in the 2012 Paralympic opening ceremony. Through his work, Heaton attempts to play upon the value judgments able-bodied make of the disabled.

Ash Atalla

Image Credit: The Guardian

Behind some of the UK’s most treasured sitcoms and mockumentaries is producer Ash Atalla. Being credited on programmes such as The Office, People Just Do Nothing, Trollied, Cuckoo and The I.T Crowd, Atalla has really blessed modern British comedy and has mastered bleeding laughs out of the awkward in the process. Atalla often speaks out about industry issues surrounding diversity and holds is comedy at arm’s length from the “white middle class”

Alison Lapper

Image Credit: The Guardian

The subject of one of the most controversial sculptures in recent memory, ‘Alison Lapper Pregnant’- a self-reflexive artwork which depicts Lapper pregnant with her unborn son. The controversy came from its placement and subject: Lapper has a condition called phocomelia, the result of the 1960s drug Thalidomide. The sculpture was placed on a plinth in Trafalgar Square for two years, diversifying the depictions of the human form classically found in public art. Lapper also featured in BBC documentary Child of Our Time in which she discussed her childhood as someone with a disability in the 1970s and the challenges of raising an able-bodied child when disabled. 

Stephen Wiltshire 

Image Credit: Evening Standard

Only having to briefly glance at a cityscape, Stephen Wiltshire is able to produce extremely detailed drawings of them, often doing so on a very large scale. Diagnosed with autism as a child and having had difficulty speaking, drawing was a way in which Wiltshire communicated with the world. His work is of international renown and, in 2006, was awarded an MBE.

Christy Brown 

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Most famous for his autobiography which inspired the film My Left Foot, Christy Brown was an Irish artist and author, who was forced to paint using only the toes of his left foot due to the challenges arising from having cerebral palsy. His stream-of-consciousness novels have been considered extremely important in capturing the brogue of Irish literature, being thought of equal in significance with Ulysses.

Image Credit: University of Leeds