Disability and political activism in art

Posted by ap507 at Nov 10, 2015 11:20 AM |
Exhibition launch event at University of Leicester’s new Attenborough Arts Centre gallery

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 10 November 2015

  • Exhibition brings together acclaimed artists who make artwork informed by the politics of disability
  • Exhibition featuring sculpture, performance, film, drawing, and photography to run from 18 November 2015 - 17 January 2016
  • Sir Peter Bazalgette, Chair, Arts Council England and Michael Attenborough CBE, theatre director and Patron of Attenborough Arts Centre, son of the late Lord Attenborough after whom the centre is named, will attend the exhibition opening ceremony on 17 November

Media/ Photo opportunity: 3.45 - 4.15pm on Tuesday 17 November at Attenborough Arts Centre, Lancaster Road for gallery tour and interviews with Sir Peter Bazalgette and Michael Attenborough CBE. Contact Patricia Bennett on pb263@leicester.ac.uk to attend.

Contact pressoffice@le.ac.uk to request images.

The University of Leicester’s new gallery at the Attenborough Arts Centre is to stage its inaugural exhibition from Wednesday 18 November 2015  to 17 January 2016.

Sir Peter Bazalgette, Chair, Arts Council England and Michael Attenborough CBE, will attend the opening of the exhibition at a preview event on Tuesday 17 November.

The exhibition, Art, Life, Activism brings together a diverse range of critically acclaimed artists who make artwork informed by the politics of disability.  It features sculpture, performance, film, drawing, and photography, and addresses a range of concerns including: political action, economics, mental health, public access, and history.

The exhibition will be held in the Centre’s new £1.5million gallery, which will celebrate its official opening ceremony in January 2016.

Attenborough Arts Centre’s founding patron was Richard Attenborough, a world leading filmmaker, actor and life-long patron of the arts who grew up on the University’s campus. Handing the patronage to his son Michael, the Centre continues to follow Richard’s vision and continue his legacy striving to improve inclusivity in art, culture and learning for all.

Opened in 1997 by the late Princess Diana as The Richard Attenborough Centre for Disability and the Arts, the venue was created from a campaign championed and led by Lord Attenborough, who was actively involved in arts and disability in the UK. Today the Attenborough Arts Centre exhibition programme includes a broad spectrum of contemporary art, yet still continues the social activism on which it was founded - working closely with organisations such as Shape Arts to challenge how disability is perceived.

“Art, Life, Activism raises questions about the relationship between art and politics and invites us to consider the complex social, economic and cultural forces characterising disability and its representation in mainstream culture,” said Tony Heaton artist, curator and Chief Executive of Shape Arts.

Shown together for the first time in Leicester, exhibiting artists Tony Heaton, Aaron Williamson, Noëmi Lakmaier, Adam Reynolds, Bobby Baker, Liz Crow,  Simon Raven, Ann Whitehurst and David Hevey, produce critical work that blurs the boundaries between art and politics.

Sir Peter Bazalgette, Chair, Arts Council England Council, said: “I’m very much looking forward to being back in Leicester at the opening of Art, Life, Activism. One of our ambitions at the Arts Council is to invest in great artistic and cultural work which reflects our nation’s diversity and Attenborough Arts is an important part of that picture.”

The Attenborough Arts Centre has been supported by the Breaking Barriers Appeal, which aims to help fulfil Richard Attenborough’s original vision to improve access to the arts for all. For more information about how to donate, please contact Ave Vinick at (0116) 252 2176 or arv4@le.ac.uk or make a gift online at http://www.le.ac.uk/breakingbarriers

Entrance to the gallery is FREE. The exhibition opens to the public on Wednesday 18 November and will run until 17 January 2016. Opening hours are Monday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm and Sunday from 12pm to 4pm, closed Bank Holidays and between 24 December and 3 January 2016. An opening preview will take place on Tuesday 17 November, 6pm – 9pm. Tickets are FREE, but advanced booking is strongly advised at www.attenborougharts.com

As part of the exhibition, the Attenborough Forum Art, Life, Activism: Talks and performance will take place on Thursday 10 December, 5.30pm – 9pm at Attenborough Arts Centre. This forum includes a discussion with exhibiting artists Tony Heaton, Aaron Williamson, Bobby Baker; and Professor Richard Sandell, from the University of Leicester’s School of Museum Studies. The event includes Bobby Baker’s moving performance Drawing on a Mother’s Experience, performed over 300 times and revisited for the first time after 15 years of its creation. Tickets cost £10 / £5 concessions.


Notes to Editors:

Contact Patricia Bennett on pb263@leicester.ac.uk for more information.


PRESS CONTACT:  JESSICA WOOD, attenborough@artsinform.co.uk

About Attenborough Arts Centre

The University of Leicester’s Attenborough Arts Centre prides itself on being accessible and inclusive. With over 18 years of experience, the programme offers courses and workshops, contemporary art, performance and live art, theatre and comedy, live music and jazz, dance, activities for children and families, and more. It is proud to champion emerging talent and disability-led performance companies, supporting those starting their careers. Its outstanding access and inclusive work has been recognised, through multiple awards and grants from Arts Council England, BBC Children in Need, Leicester Shire Promotions and Visit England. Its audience has grown from 57,000 people over the last year.

Attenborough Arts Centre is part of the University of Leicester’s Division of External Relations. Its new exhibition programme will significantly contribute to the University’s corporate social responsibility, wider public engagement and strategic research goals. It will specifically explore issues of human identity and inter-cultural interactions, promote inter-discipline, attract high-calibre collaborators, and encourage new imaginative approaches that culminate in exhibition projects.

Arts Council England

Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2015 and 2018, we plan to invest £1.1 billion of public money from government and an estimated £700 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.


Sir Peter Bazalgette Biography

Sir Peter Bazalgette is Chair of Arts Council England and former Chair of English National Opera. He has raised funds for arts and media organisations, notably as Chair of The Crossness Engines Trust (a steam museum) and as Deputy Chair of The National Film and Television School. He has a number of digital media interests, serving on the Boards of YouGov and MirriAd and the Advisory Board of BBH. In TV he is the president of The Royal Television Society, served as the Chief Creative Officer of Endemol, on the Board of Channel 4 and devised several internationally successful television formats. He was also a non-executive director of DCMS. Peter writes a regular food column for the Financial Times.

Lord Attenborough Biography

Born in 1923 the son of Frederick L. Attenborough (Principal of the University College, Leicester, and President of the Society in 1945-46), Richard Attenborough was brought up in Leicester and was educated at the Wyggeston Grammar School. After amateur performances with the School and the Leicester Little Theatre, he was awarded a Leverhulme Scholarship to the Royal College of Dramatic Art (RADA) in 1941. While still in his teens he made his West End debut and also gained an international reputation through his part in Noel Coward’s 1942 war film In which We Serve. A stage and film acting career of more than 60 years has been complemented by an equally distinguished career as a producer and director, beginning with award-winning Oh! What a Lovely War in 1968, and including Gandhi (1981 – eight Oscars) and Cry Freedom.

Lord Attenborough was a frequent visitor to the University and a supporter of the institution. In 1970 he became an honorary graduate and in 2006 he was made a Distinguished Honorary Fellow – the highest award the University can bestow. You can watch a video of his response here.

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