Children’s TV Star Takes Part in Exhibition to Raise Awareness of Disabled People in the Arts in North East England
Photo of Kim Tserkezie by Paul Stephenson
A unique exhibition entitled On Whose Shoulders We Build is taking place at ARC Stockton at the end of this month to showcase the rich history of disabled people involved in the arts in the North East. Former Balamory star Kim Tserkezie, who played iconic Penny Pocket, is featured as one of a number of creative disabled people. Kim is now an award winning actor, presenter, writer and film producer, running her own production company Scattered Pictures and is a leading and influential voice in the campaign for greater representation of disabled people in the arts and media.
Talking about her involvement in the exhibition, Kim said, "I'm so thrilled and honoured to feature in this exciting and important exhibition which demonstrates and celebrates the brilliant and diverse, yet often overlooked, contributions disabled people make to the arts".
The exhibition’s Project Manager Vici Wreford-Sinnott, herself a disabled artist, said, “Disabled peoples’ contribution to the arts is often hugely underestimated and has been in the shadows for far too long. Black Robin is a disabled artist and film-maker with a phenomenal catalogue of records of this vibrant community. It seems vital to share them."
Disabled people often feel that their voices are not heard, and often great ways to engage with the wider public is through the telling of stories – on stage, in comedies, in films, in portraits, creative writing, photography… the list goes on.
Black Robin is creating a new archive to tell the story of the North East’s disabled artists and the initial phase of a website is up and running. He told us, “I’ve documented so much pioneering activity by disabled artists that it seemed wrong for it all to go dusty on a shelf. Arts Council England funded me to spend some time archiving the material and also drawing together an initial list of events – there are already over 100 disability arts events spanning three decades and we’re reaching out for more. We’d love to feature as much as we can.”
In the meantime the exhibition shares a ‘wall of fame’ montage featuring many, many disabled artists, groups and events. There are tributes to some of the founders of the movement who are no longer with us, and we have a feature wall of 10 disabled artists from a range of backgrounds, some long established figures and others who are newer to disability arts, including Karen Sheader from punk band The Fugertivs, Paul James a Senior Associate at Live Theatre, international artist Gobscure and Candice Keenan from Teesside’s Full Circle learning disability theatre company. You will have to come along to discover who the others are and more about all of them.
Vici said of Kim Tserkezie’s involvement, “We are so thrilled that Kim has been able to make time to take part. She is part of my own children's childhoods and was one of the first wheelchair users in children’s telly. And beyond that she is someone I admire enormously – she is incredibly talented, and also lends her voice to promote the equality of disabled people in film and TV. All of the artists featured are phenomenal. ”
The exhibition opens to the public on 28 July and runs until 24 September – do check ARC for opening times. The organisers hope it marks the beginning of a new phase of increased profile and improved education about this important part of our region’s heritage. There is a sound recording of the exhibition for visually impaired people and there is also an online version of the exhibition for those unable to make it along.
There is more information here On Whose Shoulders We Build - ARC | Stockton Arts Centre (arconline.co.uk)