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
Kev Howard is a photographer based in NE England. Howard’s practice explores societal narratives including disability, body image, social justice and at times, challenges the effects of governmental polices on marginal groups. This is done through documentary photography, but also studio based still life.
Howard’s work reflects 21st Century issues through societal observation, can be challenging, but also reflects an honesty in his captures which are thought provoking, and are a reflection of what is happening in front of his lens.
His street-based portraits capture the essence of the individual in their urban surroundings, a glimpse of their persona projected for the camera. There is mutual respect built between the sitter and photographer as they create the image together.
His work documenting protest captures the passion of the protestor, the comradery of the social shared experience and constant ebb and flow of emotion, from quiet reflection to explosive reaction.
Kev’s recent projects
Howard’s latest exhibition “Working Lives” was commissioned by Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (MIMA) as part of Sonia Boyce’s “In the Castle of my Skin” alongside 11 other contemporary artists. This series of work looked at how prosthetics are an extension of the body, a working tool for those who use them. Photographed using macro techniques and abstract forms, Howard left on show all the marks of use, scratch’s, dents, debris in the mechanical workings, to highlight that these are not objects of desire, but working tools, an extension of self.
Kev’s statement on the exhibition
“I am positive for how disability representation is moving forward, especially in the North East. There are great organisations who see the worth of disabled people, and are embracing our inclusion as equals, and not as an add on, or second thought. Disabled artists being included in mainstream galleries alongside established artists, theatres working with disabled playwrights and actors, and music venues are becoming more and more accessible for both performers and audiences.
Change is happening, inclusion is happening, and with this, our standing is society shifts upwards. Would I like it to move quicker? Of course I would, but the thing is, the North East seems to be leading the way in many areas of inclusion, and this to me is a major step forward in the shift of other regions to take note and follow the lead laid down by our region.”