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Unity in the Community

One of the things that I love about the arts is the ability to touch and meet people from different backgrounds and values. The arts cross barriers of every kind that human society puts up ... and those barriers are breached to provide a peaceful unity. People coming together and appreciating something creative.

As disabled artists, we get those days when we can't function in any way and need to lock ourselves away. Those days when stepping out into the world hightlights our vulnerabilities and pushes us to our very limits of endurance; every now and then we have no choice but to go out and interact - whether it's to refuel the car, do the shopping or attend medical appointments. The result can be a longer period of rest to counter the fatigue these little chores leach from us.

It's hard to explain these issues to those with closed ears. Many of us fall foul of people that either don't understand us or don't want to understand us. Disability is just one barrier, when you add other issues into the mix, it's easier to see how some people have to cope with more than the average person: race, sex, sexuality, age, family responsibilities, work - the list goes on.

I would ask you remember three things:

1. Be kind to whoever you meet. Don't upset someone through your behaviour.
2. Remember that no one is 'normal'. Normal is a fictional description designed to make you abandon your differences and conform to a way of living and behaving. As long as you're not hurting     anyone or breaking any laws, you should be able to live as an individual rather than a drone.
3. If we have unity in the community, we all thrive and grow in different ways, together ... and this is especially noticeable in our children - our hope for a better tomorrow and a better society.


Curating DAN, WIPE & WPICC

I feel privalleged when I curate exhibitions. I never know what's going to be proposed as an exhibition in terms of genre, media or idea and that keep things fresh and alive. I've had the honour to present the works of artists that use creativity to generate a sense of well-being but the most memorable works for me are those of people that have presented statements of how they use their art to cope with a disability - particularlymental health.

The Disabled Artists' Network has been exhibiting art since 2015. We started at The Atrium with the Indian Community Centre Association at 99 Hucknall Road. We extended the arts exhibition to include an Internation Poetry Exhibition (WIPE) and an International Camera Club (WPICC). Unfortuntately, The ICCA withdrew their support for the project in September 2017. Luckily, we were in discussion with the Community Champion, Chris Tilley, at Tesco Bulwell Extra (Nottingham) about the possibility of setting up the same exhibition there. The project lives on, providing a beacon for International culture that enriches our lives, gives the contributers a sense of purpose and inspires others to come and take part in these and other activities. The exhibitions will change content every two months, so please get involved and exhibit you art, poetry and photography with us. There are no age restrictions.

We're all set. We have three activities for the local, national and international communities to take part in as the banner below states - so please come and join us.



How did it all begin?

In 2013, I launched a series of rolling exhibitions to raise awareness of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and to promote creativity as
a coping mechanism for disability. My poetry raised awareness of what living with PTSD feels like, while my photography demonstrated
my escape from the ‘Chains of PTSD’.

My exhibitions, ‘Living with PTSD’ and ‘Intimacy with Plants’ ran over a 12 month period from November 2013
and surpassed all of the goals that I’d set. While allowing me to interact with and listen to other people with
disabilities, civilians and veterans alike – I was made aware of similar problems being experienced by others but
on a wider scale. People were opening up at the exhibitions by either leaving comments in the
Guestbook, through social media or talking to me direct. Some people thought that
PTSD only affected veterans. I spoke to some people that described symptoms of PTSD whose
symptoms started after incidents as wide ranging as sexual abuse, to bullying and road traffic accidents.

One issue was made clear to me: there is still a lot of ignorance about Mental Health related
conditions, not just PTSD, in society. I was given examples of that ignorance as people
relayed stories of how they’d been mistreated by professionals and, unfortunately, these included police
officers, paramedics, solicitors, barristers, doctors, GPs, nurses and NHS admin staff in
parts of the East Midlands. There is also a tremendous amount of ignorance about the link between
physical health and mental health. If people with mental health conditions are isolated and
stay indoors without any exercise, they can develop physical health issues. If active, social people
find themselves isolated because of a physical injury they can develop a mental health condition.

These exhibitions were setup to allow others to tell their story, in as much or as little detail as they wish; the able, the disabled, veterans and civilians.

Thank you for visiting and I hope that you'll pop in to Tesco Bulwell Extra, Jennison Street, Nottingham NG6 8EQ for a look. The exhibition venue is fully disabled accessible and there is a cafe on site. For those of you working shifts etc, we're lucky to be in a venue that is open from Monday - Saturday 6am - 11pm. Sunday 11am - 5pm.

Please remember that you don't have to live locally to exhibit with us. You don't even have to live in the UK!



Many thanks to Tesco for the exhibition space; to Grangeprint for printing up the signage, banners, my art and the Camera Club images; to B&Q for the resources on which to hange the art; to Meiyo Karate Club for it's donation towards the project setup; to Vistaprint for the leaflets.




Last but not least, I'd like to thank all the volunteers that have made this project possible with their hard work in setting up this venue, as well as the people that continually contribute towards our activities and keep the project alive.


Villayat 'Wolf' Sunkmanitu
Project Curator