Thursday 2 February 2017 saw the Private View of the 2017 Shape Open exhibition 'Power: The Politics of Disability' - and the accompanying announcement, by Shape Open Patron Yinka Shonibare MBE, of the winning artist and the winner of the People's Choice Award.

The winner, selected by Yinka Shonibare

The winning artist is Richard Hunt, with his acrylic painting 'Totem Pole':

Blue painting with cartoon totem pole made up of colourful animals

'Richard Hunt is a member of the Shadowlight Artists, a group of artists with learning disabilities based in Oxford. Richard's painting 'Totem Pole' is from a body of paintings made in collaboration with established non-disabled artists as part of the Creative Bridges project run by Film Oxford. 'Totem Pole' addresses the politics of disability through the mode of its creation. Richard identifies himself as a professional artist; this painting is the result of a collaborative process aimed at challenging the barriers faced by people with learning disabilities in engaging with arts establishments, particularly the barriers to art education. Through this collaboration with artists Sonia Boué and Ellen Hausner, Richard has proved that artists with learning disabilities can work with artistic parity with artists established in the mainstream.'

Yinka Shonibare, Richard Hunt and Tony Heaton in a row, smiling, in a gallery space

Image: Artist Yinka Shonibare and Shape Chief Executive Tony Heaton OBE congratulate Richard on winning the Open.

The People's Choice

The winner of the People's Choice Award is Jay Price, with her hand-bound book of intaglio etchings, 'Crowded Mind':

A cardboard concertina long white book on a white shelf

'It is too easy to be angry at ignorance, and it can be just as misguided as the ignorance itself. If there are no ways for people to educate themselves on a subject that is so vital to so many lives then I cannot direct my rage at people, but at a system; it is no use to be mad, I can only be motivated, since the way you challenge a system built of centuries of misinformation is to talk about it. 'Crowded Mind' is a series of extracts from documents I have kept during psychotic episodes.'

Jay Price, Yinka Shonibare, and Tony Heaton in a row, smiling, in a gallery space

Image: Yinka Shonibare and Tony Heaton congratulate Jay Price on winning the People's Choice Award.


“In truth, the DWP was just one of many sub-plots in a sprawling exhibition that for the most part stayed on point. Compared to last year’s theme ‘My Life’ the works felt decidedly less disparate, despite arguably being more expansive.

To return to the chocolate metaphor of Forrest Gump, this exhibition is like life; painful, funny and at times inducing incandescent rage. In other words, it represents the whole mess of the human condition and posits disability and impairment – viewed through myriad prisms – as just a ‘normal’ facet of experience, albeit one that is subject to abnormal levels of power disparity.”

Full DAO article is here:

AQNB article here:

We would like to extend our thanks to everyone who attended the Open and helped to make it happen. To stay up-to-date with news on next year's Open, including how to apply, please sign up to our monthly e-newsletter at the bottom of this page.

All images c. Rachel Cherry