Saturday, February 17, 2007


Last year I posted about the Mencap SNAP photography competition. Since then as part of my old job I have been working with a group of people to organise activities to raise awareness and promote the equal rights of people with learning disabilities in Stoke-on-Trent.

We have arranged to borrow the exhibition of the 2006 SNAP winners photographs. They are currently on show at Keele University. On Monday I will go and collect them and take them to 3 venues in the city - Burslem School of Art, Staffordshire University and The Observatory clubhouse. They will be there until mid April.

The press release is accompanied by a feedback form, designed by other group members, to encourage viewers to think about the impact of the images. I can tell you what I think of them.....

The photos place people with learning disabilities in the public eye - as people with value and dignity.

I have some reservations about some of the photos - well not so much the photos as the words that go with some of them. It is obvious that some of the words although written as though they are the words of the person with a learning disability, are actually the words of a carer/ supporter. I find this very patronising and disempowering. I wonder if someone does not speak, it is not better to have no words with the photo?

There is also a wider point about the photographs - if I cannot take my own photo and cannot tell you what I want a photograph taking of, or do not like my photo begin taken, then I cannot not take part in the competition. Not everyone can/ wants to take photos. I don’t think it is "equality" to pretend that everyone can do that - we are all different. I wonder if there is a debate here?

I am going to link the exhibition in with diversity month at Staffs Uni and set up a discussion event sometime in the next few weeks, to pick up some of these issues.

I've started....

my new job at Staffordshire University.

I was shockingly overwhelmed on my first and 3rd days. I had a headache all day on Tuesday ( my first day) and choked back tears 3 or 4 times on Thursday afternoon/ evening after my 3rd day.

But I still think it was a good move.

Wednesday was the best - I felt at home there all morning and had lunch with my job share co-worker, who is great - funny, intelligent, kind - we should get on like a house on fire.

It was very peculiar doing 3 days and knowing I'd done my first week's work. It's also odd knowing I don't go back in until Tuesday. I hope I don't get used to it, so that it always feels like a treat.

I will be busy on Monday anyway as I have volunteered (but then had it agreed that I can do it as part of my new job) to organise an exhibition of the Mencap SNAP photographs.

body hair.....

is in up for debate again - Shazia Mirza is a convert to hairy bodies. Take a look at her website - it's worth a visit.

There is an article in the guardian about her fashion show - she got women to agree to stop removing hair and model for her. They were then asked to model clothes made from body hair.

The article picks up on some of the negative attitudes Shazia faced - although it features a discussion she had with Loaded magazine, and I wouldn't have expected anything other than the reaction she got from them - after all they clearly see women as sex objects only and the less that is "real" and sexual about the women they like the better - women in that magazine are either treated as "girls", pre-pubescent, and doll-like, or as whores or dogs (animals).

I would have liked to know more about what other women thought but it's a start. She's going to present an hour-long comedy debate programme called F*** off, I'm a Hairy Woman on BBC3 in March - not quite, but nearly mainstream media.