Real lives on the Wall: Disabled people use public murals to convey the reality of their lives in the UK by Rebecca Yeo and Andrew Bolton (2013)
“I feel like I am chained to the immigration services… The only solution would be if I’m released from these chains then I can study, work… This fight is not letting me live… I’m not allowed to be close to the public.”
This action research project was designed to do exactly that: to use art as a means of allowing disabled people to claim a public space in which to promote their messages. The project brought together disabled people, living in a diverse range of circumstances, to document their experiences and convey key messages using painted murals in public spaces. The murals were created by disabled people with specific lived experiences in common, including: asylum seekers, ex-servicemen, parents, and people with learning difficulties living in residential accommodation.
The study had two primary, overlapping objectives. First, the study explored the experiences of disabled people in the UK in the context of personalisation and the cuts. Second, the study explored the power of community art as an emancipatory action research tool, by considering disabled people’s experiences of involvement in this project and the impact of the art they produced on the wider public.
This publication contains colour images of the murals, a thought-provoking discussion of the experiences of disabled people living in a diverse range of circumstances in the UK, and useful insights into how things could be improved.