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7 Emerging Artists Working to Break Down Barriers in the Arts

POSTED: 06 October 1997

Introducing Autograph’s cohort of 7 artists involved in our ongoing Transforming Leadership project, in partnership with Shape Arts.

Autograph are working with a cohort of 7 artists over the course of two years to support them in developing their practice and creative careers.

The Transforming Leadership programme seeks to uncover and reflect the journey of what it is really like to build a creative career as disabled, neurodiverse and barrier-facing individuals, and what radical approaches, cultural ideas, business models and dynamic strategies can be employed in order to sustain a career and break through the barriers within the creative industries.

We are delighted to introduce and share work from each member of the cohort below. You can find out more about the artists on the Transforming Leadership project page.

Thompson Hall


Living On a Bread Line (2019) 


Polluted World (2018)


Housing Crisis (2019)

"In my work I explore my everyday experiences and the situations I find myself in. I then use these observations to create flat and patterned compositions. My use of colour has been described as spontaneous, using my palette to express the feelings and emotions I want to create. I use recognisable symbols in my work to give visual references to the subjects I’ve chosen. They are like news images in a 'more abstract' than true to life way."

Kin (Cultura Plasmic Inc)
With Every Fibre (2020)

With Every Fibre is a postmedia work that traverses both city streets and virtual space, designed during the Covid-19 pandemic and in response to increasing pressures on communications, social cohesion and the urgent need to mend disconnect and isolation. Subverting the format of a job advert, With Every Fibre is an intervention that takes place on job listings platforms to re-direct people to the decentralised web and challenge the monopolistic power of (and capitalist social relations encouraged by) Big Tech.

A poster advertising the new role of 'Connections Manager' directs applicants to a page accessed via peer-to-peer browser Beaker, a structure that in itself challenges the power of the mainstream web and its role in perpetuating social divides. Through both imagery and text, With Every Fibre highlights the importance of care work, empathy, healing and capacity for dialogue, and how the need for these has been exacerbated by the commodification of human interactions.

Dexter McLean
Title (Date)

“This is Rocko, who I met on the street whilst working on Tower Avenue, a photographic series taken in Olympic Gardens - a small town in Jamaica where my family and I originated. Rocko builds furniture for a living. He is wearing a T-shirt with Andrew Holness (the prime minister of Jamaica) on it, which complements the political nature of my work. Rocko was working when I took the photograph, which you can see from the pencil behind his ear and the paint on his arms.

This photograph is a prime example of what I want to do in the future; focus on those with disabilities in Jamaica, to bring awareness to a wider audience about the difficulty of living with a disability in a developing country. Rocko's crutch is rudimentary, which highlights the need for greater support for disabled communities in the Caribbean. Despite this Rocko, and many others, continue to work in a manner no different to the able bodied.”

Maral Mamaghanizadeh
If you want to be alive... read my lips! (Date)


"If You Want to Be Alive… Read My Lips! is inspired by my own experience of being a Deaf woman seeking asylum in the UK. A range of bone china earpieces are central to the work, designed in collaboration with artist Chris Wight and carved with marks, patterns and feminist protest poems written in my native language of Farsi. I invite the audience to wear these pieces of ceramic jewellery over their ears, to deepen their understanding of how it feels to communicate through lip reading, and consider issues around the politics of voice, sound and translation."

Chris Miller
Me As Venus (2017)


"I was disabled by a stroke on my right side in 2013, and after this I started to make art. I often paint in thick acrylics, reworking famous art works to incorporate my changed body instead of the key figure. My art obsessively tries to explore my disabled body and how it fits into the world. With this work I wanted to question the whole concept of beauty and disability."

Conor Powell
Ink (2021)

"INK is an animated video diary that reflects on neurodiversity, creative expression, and identity. It was made during the 2020/2021 lockdown and features voice notes from myself at various points discussing my condition and my inner thoughts. I created the short film to open a dialogue about neurodiversity as often in the media we are portrayed with people without a thought and emotion. I used the film to express myself in a creative way."


"Interactive Mobility is my YouTube channel dedicated to raising awareness and breaking down the barriers disabled people face in today’s society. I want the channel to provide disabled people with a platform to share their views on the subjects that they care about the most, and use it to document important work and stimulate debate on key issues in the arts like identity, disability and representation."


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P R O J E c t   P a r t n e r

Part of Shape's Transforming Leadership programme, on which Autograph is proud to be a key partner.

Banner image: Maral Mamaghanizadeh, If You Want To Be Alive... Read My Lips! [film still], DATE.

Images on page: 1) Thompson Hall, Living On A Breadline, 2019. Acrylic on canvas, 70 x 100cm. © and courtesy of the artist. Photo: ActionSpace. 2) Thompson Hall, Polluted World, 2018. Acrylic on canvas, 180 x 130cm. © and courtesy of the artist. 3) Thompson Hall, Housing Crisis, 2019. Acrylic on canvas, 70 x 100cm. © and courtesy of the artist. 4-5) Kin (Cultura Plasmic Inc.) With Every Fibre, 2020. Films © and courtesy of the artist. 6) Dexter McLean, TITLE, DATE. © and courtesy of the artist. 7-10) Maral Mamaghanizadeh, If You Want To Be Alive... Read My Lips!, DATE. © and courtesy of the artist. 11) Chris Miller, Me As Venus, 2017. Acrylic on board. © and courtesy of the artist. 12) Conor Powell, INK, 2021. Film © and courtesy of the artist. 13) Revell Dixon, Welcome to Interactive Mobility, 2020. Film © and courtesy of the artist.

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