The Ideas Team Exhibition – curators’ statement

Our aim is to make an exhibition that springs from the very particular ways of being that people with complex learning difficulties experience. It is not an exhibition that is about learning disabilities, instead it comes from the lived experiences, preferences and delights of people with very complex needs. They are as much the curators of this radical exhibition as Alison Stirling and I are.

We have invited thirteen artists from Scotland and the USA to make new work for the occasion, work that derives from their collaborations with people with profound needs or drawing on years of the accumulated knowledge of care workers. For example, Boston based artist Wendy Jacob will create a large accessible sloping structure on which people can sit, lie or stand and feel sounds vibrating within the structure that have been curated by people with complex learning disabilities over the past 5 years. Sculptor Lauren Gault will present huge see-through ‘envelopes’ containing gasses and liquids which can be manipulated in different ways.

New York artist Matthew Ronay will immerse the audience in his multicoloured artworks and Adam Putnam will use light and projections to create the sensation of weightlessness. Claire Barclay and Laura Spring will work together to produce a series of small scale objects to be handled and manipulated, inspired by the work of Brazilian artist Lygia Clark in the 1960s. Steve Hollingsworth and Jim Colquhoun will present a ‘Sensorium’ installation, a space which responds to those who enter it, and which will be the site of improvised performances involving projection, music, costume and movement, reminiscent of Fluxus happenings but deriving directly from experimental sessions with individuals with profound needs.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a major publication, bringing together writers from a variety of disciplines alongside artists’ notes on their working practice within this context. It will also include an archive of The Ideas Team work, thus disseminating new approaches to working in collaboration with people of different abilities, people often excluded from any involvement in the arts.


Nicola White