Back in summer 2017, we announced the successful applicants to our National Disability Arts Collection and Archive (NDACA) Research & Development (R&D) Awards, and now they've completed the R&D programme we're taking a look back to see how they got on!

NDACA's first ever R&D Award programme started last September; four recipients were awarded five mentoring sessions with key figures from the Disability Arts Movement. Let's find out what they got up to...

A white male wheelchair user and a young woman of South Asian heritage with a crutch are in a gallery space either side of a huge painting of a black oval on white canvas. They are looking at the camera and smiling

Aminder Virdee, pictured above with mentor Tony Heaton OBE, is an interdisciplinary artist working across multiple art forms, including performance, sculpture, installations, painting, digital and moving image. Aminder was mentored by Tony Heaton, Shape's CEO for 9 years and now Chair of the organisation.

During Aminder and Tony's mentoring sessions, they visited workshops, attended events, worked on applications and researched funding opportunities. Aminder was successful in her application to Graeae's Ensemble project, an opportunity she applied for with the assistance of Tony.

Aminder wrote in her evaluation 'I have learnt so much during my time with Tony as a part of the NDACA R&D Award ... he has imparted his knowledge surrounding sculptural mediums, materials and processes, alongside discussions and feedback regarding my ideas; I have found this extremely helpful when pursuing applications for proposals and commissions.'

In Aminder's application for the NDACA R&D she specified her wish to experiment with using new media to develop her practice. Using the R&D grant, Aminder went on a course in 'Life Sculpture with Wax', having not worked with this material before.

Aminder told us, 'I feel that I have been able to get back into the visual arts side of my practice, and this has been an encouraging and positive experience for me.'

Analogue photography work of a blue sky with white patches

Mark Tamer is an experimental photographic artist working with both analogue and digital mediums - work pictured above. Mark was mentored by Allan Sutherland, the author of many publications including the award-winning ‘Disabled We Stand’ (1981), a classic text of the disability rights movement.

Their mentoring sessions involved discussions around Mark’s ideas for new or current projects, with Allan providing recommendations for further exploration to develop the work.

Reflecting on the experience, Mark said ‘I’ve become more confident discussing my ideas, and better able to articulate what I’d like to do artistically... I can also see the value of talking with people outside of my chosen art form. Often their experiences can open up an idea and suggest a new approach.'

One of Mark's aims at the start of the R&D programme was to carry out research trips in relation to one of his project ideas, which he was able to do using the R&D grant.

Mark told us, 'Having the R&D award helped to validate the project in my own mind and made it something worth pursuing rather than just another idea I had'

A person is standing in a dark room silhouetted against a window and patio doors behind them, with another person in the doorway. The room has books and art materials in it.

Jack Bull is a Brighton based artist specialising in mixed media paintings. Jack was mentored by Tanya Raabe-Webber, an acclaimed disabled artist challenging the notion of identity within contemporary portraiture.

For one of their mentoring sessions Jack visited ArtStudio1, Tanya's studio in Shrewsbury, and met other artists who worked there. During this visit, they discussed ideas for a collaboration which would explore each other’s practices, and create a visual representation of the experience of working together.

Throughout the R&D programme Jack and Tanya took turns working on collaborative paintings, swapping them over with one another each time they met. The below image shows Jack and Tanya starting work on the pieces.

Two white women sit inside at a small table in front of a white wall. They are looking at a piece of white paper together with neutral expressions

Zara-Jayne Arnold is a London-based writer, performer and workshop leader currently working with 'In Sight Theatre', of which she is Co-Founder. Zara-Jayne was mentored by Julie McNamara, the Artistic Director of Vital Xposure, a dynamic theatre production company promoting hidden voices with extraordinary stories.

During the mentoring sessions, Julie and Zara-Jayne discussed her play ‘Waste’, which she is reworking with the hope of touring it nationally. Zara-Jayne had the opportunity to spend a day shadowing at Vital Xposure, during which she discussed character development with Julie, and explored the idea of using digital formats as part of the performance.

The sessions were also an opportunity to consider other aspects of script-writing and production management. Reflecting on the mentoring process, Zara-Jayne said: ‘I have learnt how to keep the suspense by not revealing things too early in the script’ and ‘they have helped me plan a schedule of when to complete certain tasks by’.

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