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Behind the scenes of a brilliant exhibition: A recap of ArtWorks Together 2023

Updated: Nov 23, 2023

ArtWorks Together 2023 left us in awe as we witnessed the remarkable talent of artists with learning disabilities and/or autism. With a brilliant and diverse array of submissions, the event proved once again that we must continue to encourage ambition and talent to freely thrive.


A fantastic range of submissions

One of the most challenging tasks we faced was selecting a shortlist. The sheer diversity and quality of the artwork submitted has been a testament to the remarkable talent of individuals with learning disabilities and autism. It was wonderful seeing the unique perspectives, innovative techniques, and emotion expressed in each piece, making it an incredibly hard task to narrow down. We would like to thank the artists at ArtWorks SY for helping us make the shortlist, before handing over to judges Kirstie Hamilton, Tanya Raabe-Webber and Emily Uttley, whose knowledge and expertise shaped the final form of the exhibition.


Shortlisted artists

The shortlist included 35 artists who represented Australia, Canada, England, Germany, India, Malaysia, Nigeria and Scotland. We loved seeing so many different perspectives and styles by artists from around the world who have participated in ArtWorks Together this year.

You can view the full shortlist here.



The selected artists

The exhibition of selected work was composed of paintings, drawings and sculpture by 18 artists from around the world. The themes in the work include joyful exploration of media and colour, as well as thought-provoking insights into the artists’ unique, and often challenging, experiences of the world. The exhibition took place at Wentworth Woodhouse from 30th August - 24th September, but you can still view a virtual version of the exhibition on our website.


The exhibition opening day

Our opening day was absolutely fantastic, it left the ArtWorks team absolutely shattered but incredibly proud! Held at the grand Wentworth Woodhouse, the moment had finally arrived to showcase the selected pieces and honor the incredible artists behind them.




Awards were handed out for work picked out by our judges for special recognition. They went to:

Best in Show: Matalonga Jorge, Tzipporah Johnston and Emma Anderson

Kirstie Hamilton's Judge's Choice: Emily Darling

Tanya Raabe-Webber's Judge's Choice: Henry Linstead

Emily Uttley's Judge's Choice: Damiloju Yomi-Adeyemi


Emma Anderson with her award.


Thanks to generous funding from Arts Council England, Sheffield City Council and YVAN we were able to produce an exciting programme of activities to celebrate the launch of the exhibition. One of the highlights from the opening day was a talk by researcher Jade French and representatives from the Leeds-based inclusive arts collective Pyramid. Pyramid invest in people with a learning disability through the discovery, development and disruption of the arts. During the talk, they shared insights into the Irregular Art School research project which is supported by the University of Leeds Arts and Humanities Research Council. The programme is investigating what inclusive arts education could look like to better support the professional development of artists with learning disabilities.


After the talk, our guests had the opportunity to chat to some of the exhibiting artists during a Q&A session. Thank you Amelia, Annie, Roberto and Sam for sharing more detail about how your artwork in the ArtWorks Together exhibition was made, the ideas behind it and your plans for the future- we can’t wait to see what you do next! The stories and experiences shared by everyone were deeply inspiring, further amplifying the significance of inclusive arts initiatives like ArtWorks Together.


One of our fantastic talks


Thank you to Millennium Gallery and Sheffield Museums for providing plinths for the exhibition.


Workshops

During the opening week, we held a selection of accessible art workshops for all skill levels. We were so excited to get to work with an amazing range of local artists including Bridg Murray, Christopher Jarrat, James Green, Rachael Colley, Richard Johnson and Richard Kitson. The workshops included everything from painting, to sculpture, to jewellery making, there was something for everyone.


A common theme shared across the workshops was an awareness of the critical climate situation which we are currently experiencing, whether explored directly through the subject of the workshop or through the materials selected for the session and how they were sourced. An example of this are the spinning sculptures, powered by the wind, made during Chris Jarratt's environment-themed workshop. These fun mini sculptures that attendees were able to take home served as a reminder of how art can be a powerful vehicle for conveying messages of social and environmental significance.



In addition to the workshops led by external artists, our ArtWorks team ran a fantastic selection of activities for visitors in Wentworth Woodhouse gardens. We were very proud of our ArtWorks artists who took ownership of the workshops, sharing their expertise with members of the public. In the picture below, artist Charlene is demonstrating the cyanotype printing process.



The Virtual Exhibition

If you missed the opportunity to visit the physical exhibition, don't worry - ArtWorks Together has made it possible for you to experience this event through a virtual exhibition. Learn more about the unique perspectives that shape our shortlisted artist’s work, and directly support creatives who too-often stand in the shadows from the comfort of your own home.

The virtual exhibition provides an accessible and inclusive way for everyone to engage with the artwork and connect with the artists' narratives. It's a testament to ArtWorks Together's commitment to making art accessible to all and ensuring that the voices of individuals with learning disabilities and/or autism continue to be heard and celebrated. You can find the virtual exhibition here


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