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Root Experience & the Hidden Project…

03/11/2019

Between Spring 2017 and Summer this year, 2019 I was on and off involved with a Brighton-based community arts and theatre charity organisation, Root Experience on their Hidden Project which culminated in the creation of a graphic novel style book, ‘Hidden Stories’.

I joined a series of workshops with a group of people living with invisible conditions / hidden disabilities.  We explored our experiences through visual art, storytelling and soundscapes – and contributed to a film about participation in the sessions which can be seen on the Root Experience website under Hidden Stories project.

 

My main contribution was to assemble a multi-sensory visual arts and creative writing installation, under the title of ‘Sensing Red’, based on my challenges with hypersensory sensitivity, from both Asperger’s and fibromyalgia syndrome, and with bipolar disorder. This glaringly visual, variously tactile and noise-making ‘piece’ also included red berry sweets to taste (& eat) plus ‘red hot’ sandalwood and ginger fragrance-infused fabric to smell.  The accompanying booklet ABLED can be seen as a slideshow below, at the end of the post.

 

In July 2017 the workshop participants and creative partners of Root Experience presented a weekend’s interactive exhibition of our creative contributions – called the Hubbub – in Brighton Dome’s Founders Room gallery space.

The Hubbub asked the question:  “What’s behind your mask?”  There the public could explore, through discussion, writing, film-viewing and object-manipulation, what they comprehended of their own and others’ hidden stories.

 

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Quite coincidentally, outside the Dome building on New Road, the UK’s first Disability Pride was being held – with stalls, speeches, bands and other creative performances; two events linking the somewhat-known &/or visible and the lesser-known &/or invisible experiences of persons living with different abilities: outside of ‘the norm’.

 

Root Experience wished to expand on the work and the ideas that emerged from the 8 week course; they put out a bid to win an ITV People’s Projects award to run similar workshops in 10 towns across South East England and from those, and the Brighton sessions, create a book to illustrate – literally – some general and shared experiences – and information – about how it can be to live with hidden conditions.

I assisted with the graphics side of the fundraising bid, including parading with others as A-frame poster-wearers, through Saturday shoppers and cafe-scene quaffers, on a busy Brighton afternoon.  We won our award and a year later the book ‘Hidden Stories’ was launched in the 10 towns’ libraries.

This journey – along with many participants’ personal blog posts and video interviews – can be followed on the web link above.  Root Experience describe their book thus:

“Hidden Stories is a playfully illustrated book about what it’s like to live with an invisible condition like anxiety or autism. Really it’s about all of us, and our everyday struggle to simply be ourselves.”

A digital version of the book can be downloaded for free from the website / via this link.

………

Slideshow of ABLED :  A-normal  B ooklet  L isting  E nigmatic  D isorders

– exploring my Aspie voice on the light and dark questions of disability versus difference ability…

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