Artist Simon Raven was awarded Shape's Adam Reynolds Memorial Bursary in 2012, undertaking an accompanying residency a Camden Arts Centre. We asked him a few questions on his experiences and what he's been up to since...

What is it in particular about Shape that you identify with as an artist?

Shape is one of best known disability arts organisations in the UK, and I identify as a disabled artist. Shape follows the Social Model of Disability, which appeals to me because it problematises a medical or religion-based approach to disability that might confuse art-making with a form of self help, or outsider therapy.

What made you feel that the ARMB residency was the appropriate vehicle for the exploration of your work?

I was excited by the opportunity to develop new work in a generous studio space at Camden Arts Centre, with a grant and several opportunities to hold public events. I was also fortunate that my residency coincided with a retrospective of works by Bruce Lacey, which was an inspiring context to make work in, and attracted an interesting mix of people to the gallery while I was there.

How did the residency help you to develop your practice and career?

During the residency, titled 'It's OK to be Boring', I was able to experiment in a public forum, whilst discussing works in progress with members of public and initiating numerous spontaneous performances and short films. I was given a lot of support in the production of a 'File Note' publication, and I held a number of performance events, including 'The Iceberg Lounge', as part of a Frieze Art Fair party.

What have you been up to since your residency, and what are you working on at the moment?

I recently started a PhD to research Disability Art and Practice at Northumbria University. I continue to make performances, and to engage with Shape exhibitions - in particular the ARMB, and Unlimited. I was commissioned to develop new work as part of 'Art of the Lived Experiment', at Bluecoat, Liverpool, which toured to DisArts Festival in Grand Rapids, US.

What are your views about the significance of the programme?

ARMB is among the most significant disability art programmes in the UK, considering the calibre of arts organisations it partners with and the level of financial and creative support offered. I hadn't clearly identified myself as a disabled artist before applying to ARMB, and it was this opportunity that gave me the confidence to do so, which felt like a positive step and a turning point both personally and professionally.

Applications are now open for the 2018 Adam Reynolds Memorial Bursary - click here for more information and to apply.

You can watch a talk on Simon Raven's work for the Adam Reynolds Memorial Bursary with Shape's Chief Executive Tony Heaton OBE and Camden Art Centre's Ben Roberts here

To find out more about Simon and his work, please visit his website here

Banner Image: Simon Raven (2012)