A living history of the disability arts movement in North East England.

There is a rich history of disability art in North East England stretching back over almost forty years, but much of it lives on in the shadows of peoples’ memories. This exhibition and archive is a celebration of a powerful movement and a vibrant community of disabled people who forged a path towards greater cultural freedom and representation, from the bubbling subversive world of the 70s and 80s cabaret and performance scenes, involving disabled artists working in a variety of artforms, and inventing new ones.

The first phase of the living archive of On Whose Shoulders We Build was launched earlier this year by Black Robin, an Irish disabled filmmaker and photographer based in the North East for 30 years this year. He has an extensive collection of filmed and photographed work by disabled artists and didn’t want it to go dusty on the shelf, instead paying tribute to all those who have made a difference to the lives of disabled people through the arts in our region.

In July and August he is thrilled to be launching an exhibition of the same title, On Whose Shoulders We Build, at ARC Stockton sharing images, stories, footage and portraits of disabled artists and activity past and present, revealing pioneering and ground breaking arts activity and the roots of the disability rights movement’s push for cultural equality and accessibility.

The Disabled Peoples’ Rights Movement is a civil rights movement and many people have spent lifetimes campaigning and protesting for better lives for disabled people. They forged a community and this feels like an important time to acknowledge that and pay tribute, and to ensure that future generations are aware of the foundations laid by ground breaking activists.

Accessibility – the exhibition launch will be BSL interpreted, captioned and audio description will be available for the exhibition. Any footage of events in the exhibition will be captioned and described.

You can find out more about the living archive at www.onwhoseshoulders.com


View the online exhibition below