Disability arts pioneer inspires students

Disability arts pioneer inspires students

Renowned sculptor Tony Heaton OBE is challenging art students to explore societal barriers faced by people with disabilities.

Tony presented the issues as he delivered a guest lecture, part of a series of talks organised by the Arts Research Initiative (ARI), for University of Cumbria Institute of the Arts staff and students.

He also unveiled a selection of his art, material and documents. They are on display for students in the Arts Research Field Station situated at the university’s creative campus, Brampton Road, Stanwix.

Tony, who is chair of Shape Arts and consultant to leading cultural organisations including the British Council, Tate and the Research Centre for Museums and Galleries, has been making his first visit to Cumbria’s university.

A practising artist for more than 45 years, Tony has worked extensively in disability, diversity and social justice and launched the National Disability Arts Collection and Archive.

Wheelchair user Tony said: “I’m delighted to visit University of Cumbria to help students find out about the social model of disability.

“We are disabled by barriers we face from society and defined often by what people think we can’t do rather than what we can do, more often than physical barriers we may face.”

University of Cumbria’s Professor Robert Williams, a leading fine art academic, said it was a privilege to welcome Tony on Thursday 12 December.

He said: “This has been an excellent opportunity for our students to come along and hear from a sculptor of such great distinction.

“His work, Gold Lamé, recently occupied The Liverpool Plinth and his ‘Monument to the Unintended Performer’ was installed on the Big 4 at the entrance to Channel 4 TV Centre in celebration of the 2012 Paralympics.

“Also, his ‘Squareinthecircle?’ stands outside the school of architecture at Portsmouth University.”

The university’s ARI aims to develop the profile, awareness and the understanding of arts, media and humanities scholarship, practice and research within its Institute of the Arts, the institution and beyond.

* Pictured: Tony Heaton OBE (left) with Professor Robert Williams