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27th April 2013

Venture Arts: ‘Articulate’

Annabel Herrick previews ‘Articulate’ from the Venture Arts project, at the Lowry

Venture Arts are proud to announce their fourth major art exhibition ‘Articulate’ in the Lowry to celebrate the talents of their brilliant team of over 100 people with learning disabilities. Despite being a small charity, no other arts-based organisation has succeeded in showcasing art produced by people with learning disabilities in such expansive and professional shows. Venture Arts organise arts and crafts workshops which provide a fun and lively space where people can build confidence, experiment with their creativity and discover skills they never knew they had. Thanks to a hard-working management team and a group of dedicated volunteers, Venture Arts runs twenty interactive two-hour workshops per week. Still going strong since 1985, the charity provides an outlet for people with learning disabilities to express themselves through art when they may feel unable to do so in other ways.

Following this idea is the new project ‘Articulate’ which highlights the importance of personal expression and explores different forms of communication interpreted in creative ways. Many people who work with Venture Arts are non-verbal, have hearing impairments or find it difficult to express themselves through speech; ‘Articulate’ gives these people a Voice Through Art. After discussing ideas of ways to approach this project as a team, textiles and especially sewing seemed to be a strong point; part of the project included hand-stitched letters and envelopes to be sent to a friend or a favourite celebrity. To look at more modern forms of communication, such as the telephone or the television, the group experimented with various types of art techniques. This included drilling metal and stitching electrical wire or drawing favourite TV programmes on clay frames that were blasted in the kiln.

Not only has this project provided a way to focus on personal talents as individuals, but it has given certain people the chance to pass on the skills they have learnt through the centre. The group created a ‘How To Hand-Stitch’ handbook to explain the process to each other in an accessible way, and some members of the group even got to visit young people in schools to try their hand at a bit of teaching. Venture Arts strives to help these people with learning disabilities develop their artistic skills but also grow in confidence; they leave the workshops having learnt new skills yet also come away with a feeling of self-worth and purpose. Venture Arts sees the person, not the disability, and endeavours to uncover their hidden talents and exhibit their impressive work to a wide audience in order to accredit their abilities as artists.

Manager Amanda Sutton believes that after the inspiring performance of the athletes in the Paralympic Games of July this year it is a perfect time for society to recognise and celebrate the previously unseen talents of people with learning disabilities. She states “it is groundbreaking and marvellous that people who have learning disabilities get the opportunity to showcase their work and gain a well-deserved profile in the arts”.

The exhibition is running in the Lowry in Salford from the 12th of April until the 6th of June 2013.

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