Click on the artwork to enlarge image


Works by Alyssa Black, Kath Duncan, Rachel Gadsden, Jeremy Hawkes, Jacqueline King and Billie Parsons.

This exhibition is on the intersections between identities and creativities.

Disclosure is a hot issue…

How do we define ourselves?

What is your identity? Does your identity shift and change over time? In different places?

Are we artists with disability, disabled artists, or are we artists foremost and our disabilities are unimportant?

Who do you tell about your disabilities? How? Why?

Do you need to disclose your differences, your impairments?

Disclosure is a expanding exhibition. We are inviting you to join the conversation and add your works.

For some artists, our differences and/or Deafness affect our practices; for others our differences enhance our art and for others, our differences make no difference!

We invite artists to get involved and open up this debate.

These are the central questions:

How do my differences work within my arts practices?

As an artist, what do I most want?

Do you think there is stigma around being ‘a disabled artist’?

Are we artists whose differences are reflected in our work?

Do we use our differences as inspiration for our work?

We want to hear from you…

Artists so far….

Alyssa Black is from northern NSW:

‘Given that my illness has been a lifelong condition, and that it’s progression to the level of disability came when I was just 15, I have always felt my identity to be defined by it. My whole life is controlled by my illness, so I really don’t perceive there to be a ‘me’ separate from the disabled me. My art is always influenced by my specific position from which I view the world. Even though my paintings and drawings are not directly about me, they are always about subjects which have relevance to me due to my condition- visual cultural topics of beauty ideals, body weight norms and ideals, and diet are among the topics I explore most frequently. So in that respect, my identity as a person with a psychiatric disability is essentially intertwined with my identity as an artist, for it so profoundly affects the way I see the world I represent.’

Heist’s own curator Kath Duncan is showing two of her own works based on her body portraits:

‘My visual art focus is on my unique body, but this is not what all artists with disability want to do by any means. For me, I never saw my form anywhere in culture and so I was just compelled to make my own media. I have a body of work – as an individual and in collaboration – made from my own self-preoccupation with creatively embodying myself in a world I don’t feel comfortable in, and/or am alienated by.

My art makes bridges between worlds – the worlds of being a Special Child, and the worlds that Special Child grew up into and learnt to speak from, and the Worlds that Other People seem to live in.

As a child I wanted to be an artist and I wanted to make art about my life. I felt a lot of the worlds I inhabited were secret and cut off from the mainstream of life. Lit by fluoros in dusty browns, creams, greys, beiges, these funny little worlds – the special school, the prosthetics centre, the doctors’ surgeries –  where I saw the same few people, cut off by barbed wire, locked doors and gloomy corridors; outsiders did not casually turn up there.

Yes, there are costs; yes, there are also advantages to being different. I’ve always been ‘treated’ as Specially ‘different’, and I have daily conflicts about this, about how I feel on the inside and how I am seen on the outside. The conflicts fire up my imagination; it’s like playing with parallel universes. Making art about these weird landscapes fascinates me.

I’m with Mat Fraser: You’ve got to declare yourself disabled and beautiful!’

UK artist Rachel Gadsden says, ‘I did hide in the past, my disability.

‘It is all unseen when people see me in the street, but I stopped hiding as soon as I realized I had the opportunity to speak out about issues to do with disability through my artwork and my professional career.

’18 months as artist at the UK Parliament meant I can never hide again! I don’t want to anyway,’ Rachel says.

Arts Access Victoria’s own Jeremy Hawkes has a classical arts training background, and has been a successful sculptor. But then something happened… He says:

‘Just over 5 years ago I was injured at work and my life and art-practice has never been the same, nor ever will be.

‘I have had numerous surgeries on my cervical (neck) spine, endless procedures, injections, scans, tests and the like.

‘The result is severe spinal spondylosis with complications and a resulting impaired central nervous system leading to chronic pain and a dependence on opiates.

‘No longer can I be the strong person I was, wielding chainsaw and angle grinder with abandon.

‘No more sell-out exhibitions, no more public commissions and, as I saw it, no more art….

‘I have begun to work in different, gentler sculptural media and tried to think about how I approach art-making and the different attitudes and ideas that can be adopted. So far, without much success, but I know I’ll get there.

‘I think all artists have periods of high productivity and periods of where the thinking about art is in effect the practice of art. But, I miss exhibiting…

‘In December last year I was further diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.

‘Disclosure for me is a terrific reminder that I am still an artist. That I have a huge body of work behind me, that I have spent most of my adult life working hard at my practice.

‘Disclosure reminds me that I still have many, many choices and options although as yet I have yet to really find my new “voice”,’ Jeremy says.

Jacqueline King is a northern NSW-based glass artist and sculptor:

‘My work is a conscious attempt to embody an empathic and keen understanding of the fragility and diversity of life. I explore two distinct & often divergent notions of this fragility & diversity, one being our natural environment & the other mental health.

My work exploring the natural environment has a focus on the biodiversity surrounding my studio-gallery being the region surrounding Mt Warning, a World Heritage area. I have continued to expand this work via personal research, experience on the committee of Caldera Art, & membership with conservation groups. This has lead to the creation of works exploring unique bird species, fungi & flora of this region.

My work exploring mental health stems from my own journey to recovery through the visual arts from Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. My glass practice came about as a form of self-therapy having experienced a prolonged trauma resulting in Complex PTSD.

I develop works exploring the creation of beauty from shattered parts which is a metaphor & reflective of my own life & many others who have suffered mental health issues, particularly relevant to the experience of PTSD thereby providing a platform for discussion & hopefully a feeling of inclusion in what is an isolating & misunderstood injury.

I hope to continue to explore & develop both themes of my work & have more recently imagined a convergence in time.’

Sculptor Billie Parsons from NSW (originally from Melbourne) says, ‘First and foremost, like all of us here,  l am an artist.

‘My disabilities don’t define me, they may limit and restrict me, and impact on my life daily, but most importantly l make the utmost of what does work.

‘An important element in dealing with my disabilities has been learning how to apply strategies to manage in everyday life.

‘I don’t consider myself a disabled artist but the fact is, that’s who l am,’ Billie says.

‘When all the stars line up art making just pours out of my hands, what it represents is me at ease applying all my skills, at my pace, to the best of my ability.

‘At the moment the process of making art is a cathartic experience. I believe to some extent that will always be the case.

What the viewer is seeing is a cross section of my work spanning the last five years.

It has all been created in an educational environment, while either at TAFE or university.

‘You can see the growth in this body of work, it displays a particular aesthetic, and each time I create something I feel like I am improving,’ Billie says.


This is a global conversation.

To join in, contact Kath Duncan at kduncan@artsaccess.com.au