New Visuality, ‘the Wheel Turns: Light Installation’, York. Funded By City Of York Council And Arts Council England.


Based on paintings created by wheel chair users, the most recent light installation at York’s city centre art gallery According to McGee certainly stopped onlookers in their tracks. “It was very, very well lit,” laughs charity curator Alaa Jasim, “and the work that served to inspire it and was included in the composition came from disabled participants in our outreach project, ‘The Wheel Turns’. A lot of the participants came to be present at the event and liaised with the public, answering questions. It was great to see them getting so much out of it.” The Wheel Turns is a series of arts sessions and exhibitions focusing on the humour, resilience and aesthetics of wheel chairs at a time when wheelchair’s counterpart, the bicycle, is set to receive a world of exposure and celebration. “It’s no accident we’re running The Wheel Turns to coincide with the run up to le Grand Depart, and indeed le Grand Depart itself. The window of the art gallery we set the light installation up overlooks the starting point of the Tour de France. Bikes are great, we love bikes, everyone loves them, but it’s not too much of a stretch to see wheelchairs in the same light. One of the carers we were working with complained that the work we expected the participants to do was a big ask because they were ‘limited’. Looking at the artwork that was eventually produced, and the sense of mischief and inventiveness that came with it, I’d have to say the wheelchair users were ‘liberated’. Look closely at a wheelchair and you see a beautiful, tough as nails machine, very similar to the bikes used in the Tour de France. Look closer at the attitude of some people, and you see less beauty, I’m afraid.”

Such emotional investment has propelled the York based charity New Visuality to work with 20 people with physical disabilities and learning difficulties to work through a series of sessions that will culminate with a number of city wide exhibitions to dovetail with July’s ‘Grand Depart’. In the meantime, the light installation was a fabulous slice of luminous artwork, helmed by artist Nick Walters, utilising on every level the work created by the participants during the sessions. Some of this work involved the participants, Pollock-like, dripping carefully seceletd colours onto a stretched canvas: the spatters were left as they were, or were revistited by the wheels of the wheelchairs spreading and pushing the marks around in seemingly random ways. The participants, Alaa says, had 100% independence in choosing the colours and how the marks were treated afterwards. “The team have really pulled together, with help from Blueberry Academy’s excellent staff, and guidance from teacher Greg McGee. Obviosuly none of this would have happened were it not for the generous funding from City of York Council’s ‘Be Part of It’ team, and Arts Council England”.

‘The Wheel Turns’ light installation was at According to McGee 11th/12th April, and 16th/17th May. It will take place again in the week commencing 30th June to coincide with Le Grand Depart.

By Viv on June 3, 2014

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