On Whose Shoulders We Build: Spotlight on – Candice Keenan

Disability Arts in the North East – A Living Archive

A tribute to all the disabled artists and groups who have made up the Disability Arts Movement past and present

About Candice

“I got interested in the arts through my grandma, Julia Keenan, who is an artist. We went to art galleries and different kinds of museums in Manchester. I used to love drawing and making things when I was younger and then went on to do Art and Design at college, including printing, fabric painting and was introduced to photography there. I love that you can do all sorts of things with photography and there are so many different styles for a photograph. My favourite area of photography is portraits both in the studio or out on location which capture people a certain moment in time. I did photography at Uni for a while.

My grandma saw that Little Cog was doing some arts activities with disabled people at ARC and I wanted to join in but never expected to be doing drama. I decided to give it a go and seven years later I am an actor and deviser with Full Circle theatre company. At first, I did a short course of classes and then moved into the academy of actor training. I have worked with a range of drama practitioners including actor Jacqueline Phillips, writer Sarah Crutwell, Lisette Auton and Pady O’Connor from Mee Mee Theatre. We’ve done lots of workshops with other groups.”

Candice’s statement on the exhibition and her experience as a disabled artist

“There are pros and cons to being disabled. I don’t like it when people talk slowly to you because they think you can’t or won’t understand. They make assumptions. I don’t like being underestimated. The world isn’t very accessible, and some people can be really mean about disabled people.

I like being with kind and fair people, and I like being with other disabled people as they just understand you. Disabled people also get opportunities when we come together and can try different things in accessible ways. I am glad that Little Cog and ARC offered us the chance to do drama and it’s good to be part of something creative like Full Circle. I am so proud that we are presenting the world premiere of our latest show at SIRF.”

Candice’s current projects

“Before the pandemic I joined Full Circle and we created and toured a show called In the Middle of Our Street. We started to work on a new show for Stockton International Riverside Festival when the first lockdown came. We discovered zoom and worked on that for two years to keep devising. It definitely did a lot to reduce loneliness and took our minds off things, but it also challenged us to think differently about the way we work. We took the opportunity to come in to ARC’s theatre, one at a time, to film a short film of the show so far for SIRF 2021. I am very proud to say that we are performing the premiere in SIRF 2022.

In 2023 we are holding a disability pride day at ARC so watch this space for more information.”


View the On Whose Shoulders We Build online exhibition