What is the Shape Open?

The Shape Open is our annual exhibition of artwork by disabled and non-disabled artists created in response to a disability-centred theme. Held in high-profile, artist-led spaces such as Bow Arts' Nunnery Gallery, Portobello Gallery, Yinka Shonibare's Guest Projects and our own pop-up galleries, The Open provides a space where disabled and non-disabled artists can discuss views and ideas about issues and topics which are often sidelined within artistic debate.

Unless all the voices of our culture are in the history of art, it’s not really a history of art—it’s a history of power

-- Guerrilla Girls


This year's theme is 'Power: The Politics of Disability': how do we creatively challenge the language of power, politics and disability?  To what extent do we need art to be a form of political protest? Where do art, disability and politics meet?  How powerful are disabled people? The exhibition will take place from 19 January to 2 February 2017 at Mile End Ecology Pavillion, London.

Our aim is for the Shape Open to not only show excellent art, but also to open up dialogues around disability and to become the benchmark exhibition for accessibility. Through the Open, we aim to create opportunities, tackle discrimination and provide full inclusion and accessibility for all disabled artists and art audiences.

Why is that important?

Everyone has the right to freely participate in the cultural life of the community (and) to enjoy the arts

-- Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 27


Everyone should be able to access the arts, yet too many events, organisations, buildings and processes are inaccessible to disabled people. This exhibition can affect change by setting an example on accessibility within the arts, engaging the wider community in art, raising the profile of disabled artists and creating dialogue at the intersection of art, disability and access.

What will my money go towards?

  • Keeping the exhibition free for every to artist to apply to
  • Free delivery and return of artwork if selected
  • An increased access budget to accommodate artist and audience access requests, e.g. sign language interpreters

Click here to donate

Click on the above donate button to select a donation amount



To speak to one of our team regarding sponsorship or fundraising in relation to this or other high quality artistic events, please call 0207 424 7330 or email arts@shapearts.org.uk. Thank you for your generous support.