An exhibition helps Welsh disabled artists reignite their careers

The exhibition tries to find various ways to support artists with disabilities, especially those emerging artists.

Burning Inside is a paiting expressing the desire and passion to create even it’s hard.

A new exhibition is offering Welsh artists with disabilities the opportunity to restart their career after the pandemic. 

The Aildanio exhibition has supported six emerging artists with mentoring from professionals and funding from Arts Council Wales, helping them keep creating their work. 

And the project is looking for other ways to assist their careers, according to exhibition curator Alan Whitfield from the Disability Arts Cymru (DAC) 

“We just need to know what they need to achieve their goals at this stage of their artistic careers , whether that’s removing themselves from social isolation or wanting to take on the world,” said Alan.

Aldanio 2022-23 Arts Prize Exhibition starts from Cardiff at g39 from 18th Nov until until 17th Dec.

Aildanio, a Welsh word that means “reignite”, is the theme for the exhibition this year, aiming to promote provoking visual artworks of artists with disabilities. 

Sara Louise Wheeler, a visual artist with a hearing issue, painted a self portrait for herself named The Sands of Hearing Time.

The girl in the painting looking upwards with her eyes closed and a calm expression, which is symbolized by the replacement of the cochlear with an hourglass in which the sands of time are flowing from the top to the bottom.

“As the pigment in my cochlear is lost, so too is my hearing,” said Sara. “I’m accepting that I am losing my hearing as a natural process, whilst seeing it as a reboot, reigniting and thus ‘aildanio’ and adaptation of me sense of identity.” 

The Sands of Hearing Time is part of a series of self-psychoanalysis artworks and poems.

Lack of opportunities and guild, most artists often face the problem of unstable income and a big gap between ideals and reality. It’s common that some talent artists are ignored by people who are vital in the positioning and progression of art or the “gatekeepers”, such as funders, policymakers, artistic directors, programmers, etc. 

For artists with disabilities, their career seems to be more complicated. 

It’s a wonderful opportunity to experience cutting edge and provoking visual art work from some of Wales’ best artists.

“Another important thing is whether to mediate between the artists and the gatekeepers,” said Alan. “Sometimes our artist may overlook by the gatekeepers, because they’ve got their own direction that they’re heading in. Then that’s what we work on.” 

With the success of the first year’s prize in 2020 when the work was mainly viewed online and stopped last year due to pandemic, 26 pieces are finally selected from over 100 submissions of creative responses to an ‘Aildanio’ moment this year. 

This exhibition will travel across Wales between November 2022 and September 2023.

“There are two selection channels for Prize – one is the main prize, and another is the emerging art prize,” said Alan. “I think it’s simpler in the emerging works, which are acceptable for putting an idea across and able to develop that.” 

The emerging artists selected are given two sessions to work with professional artists who have got experience of being in the art world and knowing the pressures that it can bring.  

The gallery space, screening room and studios are all fully accessible to people in wheelchairs.

What’s surprising is that Aildanio brings various digital elements into exhibition this year, thanks to the learning about working online and producing in a digital way. Captions, BSLI and audio descriptions are embedded into the exhibition so that visitors can embrace every works individually and listen to the description read by artists themselves QR codes even back home.