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A collaboration between deaf and disabled artists and interior architecture students

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On feeling spaces

Image - tutorials1.jpg

A project tutorial showing groups of artists and students working together.

…for the students

The student response to working with the deaf and disabled artists was immediate. They all reported ‘feeling’ themselves much more intensely in the material spaces around them; expanding their awareness of their own bodily sensations and taking notice of barriers in the built environment they had previously ignored. They began to experience material space from the perspective of the differently abled, and to be energised by artistic work and creative engagements which challenged banal assumptions that disability was about merely adding platform lifts or ramps.

It was very good, again I wish it had been earlier. It was great just being able to talk through an idea… not just the access thing, but just having some.’ objectivity, apart from the tutors - someone else’s opinion…
Student feedback May 11 2007
I feel like it’s put me a step ahead.
Student feedback May 11 2007
They were so open with ideas and very supportive.
Student feedback May 11 2007
It really did help improve my design – making it better and also accessible too.
Student feedback May 11 2007
I’d hit a plateau with my project, I was quite blocked and bored and contact with the artists really changed all that for me.
Student feedback May 11 2007
I’m not scared about it anymore – the access thing.
Student feedback May 11 2007

…for the artists

For the artists the situation was more complicated. They felt less sure that students were engaging with the issues, or had the capacity to translate these into creative design proposals.

Sometimes, I felt we were going around in circles and not getting through and sometimes you could just see them getting it…
Artists feedback May 11 2007
Some of the students seemed to be avoiding access issues or maybe it was fear or not knowing.
Artists feedback May 11 2007
I (…) didn’t feel that they truly reflected a range of disabled people’s access needs.
Artists feedback May 11 2007

This was also an issue about the set-up of the project, particularly the late involvement of the artists in the design process and limitation of their allocated input

I felt that the mental gymnastics that were required in order to win the students around to my perspective - minus any detectable traces of Deaf Equality training - meant that the gulf between myself and the audience was too wide for me to generate enough of an insight into deaf culture.
Artists evaluation Sept 4 2007   Next: The difficulties for students
Arts Council England University of Brighton, Interior Architecture and Design

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