The Future is Loading

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View the Shape Open 2020: The Future is Loading exhibition, featuring the work of 25 marginalised artists! 

"2020 has been a paradigm shift for many, a year like no other. A time of raw hardship and sudden turmoil in the midst of which we have witnessed gestures of care and support capable of reminding us: we need each other. 

For many disabled and marginalised people, familiar with adversity, witnessing the world come to a halt in a matter of days has paradoxically generated hope. Hope that, for once, the world might take greater heed of what it means to be shut away, impoverished and excluded. 

For people who are marginalised in the present day, facing discrimination and barriers to access, imagining the future can be an act of radical defiance.

As the crisis has evolved and its shockwaves travelled, we find it acting as a catalyst for many other significant conversations, in the home, the workplace, or whilst, in the case of the Black Lives Matter movement, taking to the streets in an assertion of grief and outrage. In this time of reflection and learning, a plurality of realisations has occurred. With this, widespread unrest and demands for change have arisen.

More than our lives, entire structures have been thrown into the air by what we are living though, revealing the outlines of a starkly unequal world. In the process, a pandemic of health has radicalised mainstream debate, and we are no longer shying away from discussing the pre-existing pandemics of racism, of gender discrimination, barriers to inclusion and advancement, of gaping inequality, isolation, and disenfranchisement. The list goes on.

Set against this uncertain and restless backdrop, where risk of greater exclusion battles with unique opportunities for change, we at Shape are looking to the future as an act of hope.

For people who are marginalised in the present day, facing discrimination and barriers to access, imagining the future can be an act of radical defiance. It is the act of making a claim to a space that is otherwise denied ­– and for once, marginalised people have the agency to place themselves at its centre."


The Shape Open is our annual exhibition of artwork by disabled and non-disabled artists created in response to a disability-centred theme. The Open provides a space where disabled and non-disabled artists can discuss and exchange views and ideas about issues and topics which are often sidelined within artistic debate.

The Future is Loading / Shape Open 2020

Curated and creatively produced by Shape Arts 


Arts Council England logo.

Banner image: 'Hecate' (2020) by Elise Broadway. Image courtesy of the artist.


Affiliation with Shape: Elise contributed to the Shape Open 2020: The Future is Loading.


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Elise Broadway creates free-standing and wall-mounted sculptural works using stuffed, drawn or painted fabrics, often using stock images of people and animals found on the internet. The result is a startling mixture of the sophisticated and ungainly, with the apparently mundane transformed into something special and memorable. Elise's work is autobiographical and builds on a mixture of Texan cultural iconography, dark humor, and deeply personal, introspective imagery as a self-therapeutic mechanism that shifts between catharsis, deconstruction, and healing.

About the works Elise contributed to The Future is Loading...

Cocoa (2019) 

Cocoa is part of a series of works focusing on chimerical, symbiotically-surviving entities. Beginning as a portrait of a dog with a malignant tumor, the work began to transform as I began to consider the existence/absence of mutualistic relationships between humans and the natural world. This piece functions in conjunction with the my recent series’ (including Hecate) concentrating on the roles and bodies of domesticated animals and the concept of 'domestication’ in relation to the traditional female body. These works seek to call into question the particularly human psychological proclivity towards control (both personal and of others) and the perceived comforts of the home. 

Hecate (2020)

Hecate depicts playful, theatrical scene presenting a conglomeration of ancient and fantastical cultural motifs that indicate the presence of spiritual and physical healing, safety, and bounty. The historical Hecate figure- guardian of the home and purveyor of folk medicine- represents private/social tendencies to seek out alternative medicine when contemporary scientific methods don’t hold concrete answers.   

Rabbit  (2020)

Rabbit focuses on the symbolism of thriving hopefulness; in a surreal setting of undisturbed daffodils, the rainbow-lit rabbit optimistically creates a bridge between organic and artificial life. Playing on childlike imagery, Rabbit highlights a personal inclination towards the comforts of life within the natural world in times of global gloom. 

View all The Future Is Loading artist profiles