Art workshops to help the disabled
Manama, March 30, 2014
People with disabilities are being given a new way to communicate using art.
A series of workshops are being conducted across the country by award-winning British artist Rachel Gadsden, who is using a variety of techniques to help children open up, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
Art Abled, a project run by the British Council, hopes to empower people with disabilities and showcase their true potential.
"We want to highlight issues and culture," Gadsden told the GDN.
"Through that, we want to create social change and have people be more accepting of disability.
"We want to make it more visible, which in turn, will create opportunities for people with disabilities to lead fulfilling lives within society."
The artist, who has a severe visual disability, said such problems were not limited to Bahrain.
"This is a universal issue," she said.
"Please don't believe that the UK knows more, we have just been having a dialogue about it for longer.
"We have a lot to learn in the UK from the families in the Middle East.
"There are all sorts of things on a day to day basis that are made easier if you have someone to help you.
"I had an exhibition in Qatar last year, and a group of visually impaired women came in.
"They didn't realise I was the artist, and they were very excited to know that the exhibition was by a disabled woman.
"When I introduced myself, they were also surprised to learn that I was married.
"They didn't think that they could have that - a career and a marriage."
She said young people need to be empowered into knowing anything is possible.
"It's easier to talk about issues through art than to focus on the politics of it," she said.
"Even in the year that I've been involved with the British Council on Art Abled, we have seen a massive change with how the staff at some of these centres are embracing the children's potential.
"The staff are working hard to make sure that the families embrace their potential as well."
Gadsden emphasised the need for jobs to open up to people with disabilities as well.
"Of course they have to be capable of doing the job, but there are plenty of jobs that people could do," she said.
"For instance, someone with Down's Syndrome could make a great office assistant - and they are so loving that they would change the office dynamic and give back that way.
"Employers could do simple things to make it easier as well - even something as small as allowing a late start for someone who has a physical disability, for instance, and needs longer to get ready in the morning.
"It can be the difference between someone working or not."
Gadsden is also part of an artist residency at the British Council, alongside four other artists, three of whom are GCC nationals and a British woman.
"We will have artists from the GCC going to the UK in December to work on an exhibition," she said.
"And then we will be bringing that exhibition back to the region to have it grow further.
"We want to see Art Abled used as a model in other countries." - TradeArabia News Service