Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View

I first discovered this piece when I was 15. It awed me. I have loved it passionately ever since, and perhaps I am gaining insight into why.


Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View

Cornelia Parker

Some context on the work: Parker took a garden shed, and asked the Army to blow it up, which they did. She then collected all the pieces and suspended them, with a light in the centre.

I think the reason i loved it at first sight was because I saw parts of myself within it. It was broken, violently exploded in fact. But because of it’s brokenness, and the loving and time-consuming act of reassembling it in it’s moment of destruction, a once ordinary object has become something powerful and beautiful. It’s history of violence is displayed to us. It is a victim. It had no choice in what it became. Because of it’s treatment, it is seen and celebrated all over the world.

It was broken without consent, but has transgressed the role it was given to play; that of functional ‘garden shed’.


My written response to “The Institution of Sexology”: An exhibition at the Welcome Trust

Seeing the vaginas/vulvas portrayed in this space I feel strong genital dysphoria. I am not the ‘woman’ that is being portrayed here. What is it that I find so upsetting about these portrayals of the female body?

The chopped-up-ness? There is never a full body or person, only the vagina severed from the rest of the image. As if all vaginas were represented by this one image.

I feel dirty and disgusting.

Images of the biological, anatomical, scientifically observed genitals MAKE ME FEEL HORRIBLE. I feel violated and nauseous.

There is no poetry here.

My body has had readings forced upon it that I did NOT invite.

I feel in danger of my body being repossessed. Re-owned. Chopped up, dissected, voyeurised.

My body is poetry, it is artistic, I am it. I define it, learn about it, derive pleasure from it. It is ephemeral and enigmatic. It is lived flesh, it is not object.

Condensed Weekender Notes

I was lucky enough to attend Dickie Beau’s weekender workshop at Arts Admin. These are the words and images with stuck with me from it:

Fabulation images so intense they take on a life of their own by not being a fixed persona, I can be anything Face painted white – I become a screen. We normally look at the eye – wearing the white mask makes the whole face an eye Performance – the site of knowledge making // can think itself/something through // always about the making of itself to some degree // site of virtual protest to really know/understand something you need to feel it dynamic contradiction “like crossing into the looking glass” FANTASY body: the primary medium. the material carrier of the image. where are is felt, created, shared. the corpse paradox 1) listen 2) find connections 3) try things out the people who came before are in us. I am because they are. they are sewn into my bones

Can Everything be Accessible to Everyone?


I spent this weekend in London attending a Dickie Beau workshop. At the same time, in the same building, the disability festival UNLIMITED were having a conference with all of the artists they had funded… I couldn’t quite believe my luck. 17 of the UK’s most highly praised disabled artists in one room.

The image above is from a ideas session held during the conference. I snuck into the room during lunch to have a look, and ask some of the artists what they had been up to.

My big question right now …. can you make an artwork accessible for everyone? Should you try to? Should you make work for specific demographics, or for everybody? No-one in the room could quite agree.

I am about accessibility as creative practice. Not accessibility to access art … accessibility AS art. How can the tools we use to make performance accessible – BSL interpretation, audio description, ‘relaxed’ audiences, social stories – be used to create work rather than provide access to work?

I came across the university of bristol/s project exploring the way english and BSL intersect in creative word / poetry practices.…/migrat…/documents/goettingen1.pdf…/mig…/documents/poetsandgender.pdf

Creative sign practice is a genre of work I only discovered this weekend. One UNLIMITED funded artist, Ailis Ni Riain, is collaborating with  two musicians and creative sign-language interpreter Rachael Veasey to create their piece ‘The Drawing Rooms’.

I don’t have the resources to explore creative BSL practice for BODYHOODS, but feel it is an area I’d be very excited to explore in future.

Accesible Performance … inaccessible to solo artists?


When making my degree show, BODYHOODS, I was determined for it to be as accessible as possible. However, I underestimated the logistical and financial challenges this would present to me. Even making the marketing material accessible was too expensive.

I couldn’t afford a BSL interpreter, and even if I could the interpreters I spoke to were used to interpreting shows with set scripts that were planned months in advance. The way I work lets the material morph, buckle and reinvent itself right until the dress rehearsal.

This set back has made me much more determined. It is mostly ‘mainstream’ work or work classed as ‘disability art’ that is made accessible to deaf audience members. It is difficult for me to understand why accessibility isn’t an assumed part of all art. Imagine someone dictated what performances you could go and see. If I told you that you could only see classical music concerts and not the pantomime, how would you feel?

Not making a performance accessible is an act of segregation. It is as clear a discrimination as having ‘No Coloured People Here’ above the door. Why is it unacceptable to expect black people to sit at the back of the bus, but people with tourettes have to sit in the lighting box and wheelchair users have to sit in designated spaces? When was someone’s bodily biology an excuse for overt discrimination and segregation?

Despite all of this, as a solo artist working on a very small budget (as most solo artists are, especially emerging ones) how can my work reflect my belief in accessible performance? This may be an investigation I have to follow for a long time.





Dear Bel

 Thank you for your bid to the Equality and Diversity Budget Panel.

This was a well put together submission and the panel fully respect and support the ambition to make CPP Graduation Shows fully accessible, but it is not deemed fair to support an individual student’s show.

 We are working with the Deaf Theatre Club to provide a broader menu of offerings to their members and this submission has reinforced that we are correct in our thinking that we shouldn’t continue to just offer signed performances of mainstream productions.

 The panel is disappointed to be unable to support this request and offers you every good wish for success in your Graduation Show.


The Equality and Diversity Board