Dexter McLean: Artist Research Commission

2023 - 2024


Commissioned by Autograph as part of the EXPLORERS project


A supported international research opportunity for photographer Dexter McLean


To advocate for and support the artist in developing a new body of creative works

ABOUT THE research commission

In September 2023, Autograph supported artist Dexter McLean in undertaking a research project in Kingston, Jamaica, where the artist was born and lived until he moved to the UK aged nine. Diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a child, McLean draws on his lived experience to explore the treatment, social conditions, personal narratives, and representational politics of disability.

During the research trip, McLean visited two schools for disabled children and Cheshire Village, part of the Sir John Golding Rehabilitation Centre, which consists of 21 purpose-built accessible housing units. By spending time and building relationships, McLean was able to photograph and record conversations with individuals in these communities, including carers and support workers. Via the camera, McLean has begun to build a critical dialogue concerning attitudes towards disability in Jamaica and beyond.

In pictures

Bernice Smith by Dexter McLean, 2023

Sylvia Grant, Estella Campbell and Dexter in Cheshire Village


Dexter McLean setting up his camera equipment


Jamelia Marriott by Dexter McLean, 2023

what we've accomplished so far


15 days in jamaica

Spent with disabled communities in Kingston

1 return flight

Taking McLean to Kingston, Jamaica and back to London

new work

New photographic work resulting from the research trip - more details coming soon!

1 conference presentation

Sharing McLean's work and research with audiences at Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Newcastle


Supporting the artist to undertake the research commission with budget for travel, accommodation, equipment and access support

about the artist

Dexter McLean

Dexter McLean (born 1993, Kingston, Jamaica) moved to the United Kingdom when he was nine. Diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a child, McLean’s documentary and portrait photography is concerned with addressing fundamental flaws in the representations of the disabled community in mainstream media and elsewhere.

McLean was the first person in his family to attend university, graduating with a Masters degree in Photography from Middlesex University in 2020. McLean is currently part of the Shape Arts Transforming Leadership Programme in partnership with Autograph. He lives and works in London.

You can follow the artist on Instagram and see more work on his website.

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Part of the project


The national creative programme working towards changing the discourse of how neurodivergent artists are positioned and described in culture.

Find out more

Discover more

Portraits from Tower Avenue, Jamaica

View this online gallery of images by Dexter McLean, capturing members of the community around Olympic Gardens, Jamaica where McLean spent his childhood.

View image gallery


Dexter McLean's research commission was programmed as part of the EXPLORERS Project supported by Arts Council England and Paul Hamlyn Foundation. EXPLORERS is a national creative programme for increasing the visibility and representation of neurodivergent artists in contemporary visual art. 

supported by

Banner image: Dexter McLean, Kidd Gwendolyn [detail], 2023. Courtesy the artist.

Images on page: courtesy Dexter McLean.