Working on negating the stigma related damage caused to people with disabilities - particularly mental health - is a huge issue ... and a time consuming one. Progress can be nicely summed up in the old lyric 'one step forward, two steps back'.
To people without any empathy it won't mean a thing but from personal experience I know there are people fighting their own battles on a daily basis ... trying to survive from one day to the next with as much dignity as possible. I also know that there are a lot more of us than the surveys tend to suggest.
DAN is a free exhibition venue for all artists but you must either be brave enough to write about how your creativity helps you to cope with your disability or if you are not disabled - how your creativity promotes a sense of well-being. The ICCA Nottingham kindly allowed me to take over the venue from Art Core, who previously curated exhibitions at the space.
The project won't suit all disabled artists - having to be open about their disability could cause them to be subjected to further stigma from family, friends or work colleagues - but if we start to do this, others may open up too ... and slowly we can start to cut down on the amount of stigma that disabled people are subjected to as a whole.
So there you have it. DAN was opened by the Lord Mayor of Nottingham in February 2016. The venue is currently packed with excellent art and I'm compiling a waiting list of artists wishing to exhibit with the project.
I hope that you'll add yourself to the network, tell your story and come and exhibit with us in this friendly, caring group that will treat you with dignity and empathy - and will be mindful of your disability and support you through this experience.
In addition to the individual artists showing their creations, we have two other areas of interest following on from my earlier exhibitions. The Wolf International Poetry Group exhibits 24 poems from around the world at any time. We currently have offerings from poets from the UK, Netherlands, Canada, USA and Australia. Poetry doesn't hit mainstream news but it's a wonderful way of expressing feelings that can be difficult to talk about.
You will find offerings from very talented poets touching upon different aspects of the human condition and some that openly write about their disabilities.
If you would like to enter your poem to be exhibited, please go to the main website, www.wolf-photography.com, and enter your poem in text only please. This makes it easier for me to copy it and produce it ready for printing.
Please remember that young people visit the venue too, so the content must be appropriate (eg no erotica etc).
The other stipulation is that your poem must fit onto one sheet of A4 using the size Calibri 14 font.
Take a chance, believe in yourself, submit your poem and help to inspire others to write and share their experiences. Your poem could be the light that pulls someone out of their darkest hour.
You may have guessed by now that my favourite medium is photography, although I can draw a really good matchstick man every now and then (cats and dogs are beyond me). The third element of the project is the Wolf Photography International Camera Club.
The club has three aims: showcase photography, provide help and guidance to those seeking to improve their photography and to provide some companionship to those that are isolated.
Regular outings are arranged through the project's Facebook page, the exhibition space notice board and the forum. I have sectioned a space for a rolling exhibition of photography. Please remember that for the photography club, you do not have to enter any details about yourself or your disability. Just enter the image on the forum and if it's selected, it will be exhibited at The Atrium, free of charge. You will retain all of the Intellectual Property Rights; you will only be granting me your permission to display your print at the exhibition and on social media networks to promote the project. The images will have your copyright notice on them. I'm looking for images that fit the theme of 'Nature & Spring' for the first photography exhibition.
Last but not least, our first 'Meet n Greet' night is scheduled for Wednesday 20th July 2016. I hope that you'll pop in for a free glass of wine or pop and chat with the current artists exhibiting at The Atrium. I'm sure you'll enjoy their company.
Please spread the word about this initiative and help the project to blossom. Please also bear in mind that the art work at the exhibition is for sale, so make a purchase and brighten up your home or office space.
If you enjoy a good curry, get there for 12:30pm - it's traditional, cheap and very tasty! You may also wish to check out the banquet hall on the ground floor while you're at the building. The ICCA rent the space out for corporate events and weddings etc.
Thank you for taking the time to read this piece. Have a wonderful weekend and I hope that you'll pop in to the Atrium for the 'Meet n Greet'. The exhibitions can also be viewed Mon-Fri 9:30am to 4:30pm and Mon & Wed evenings from 6:15pm - 8:30pm.
All the best
Villayat 'Wolf' Sunkmanitu
Curator - DAN