Unlimited Festival at Southbank

A handwritten letter protrudes from an opened envelope. It lays on a table next to a letter rack with mail marked 'private'. Two people chat across a table set for tea. Young woman wearing a pinny and holding a feather duster sits listening to a telephone in front of a highly patterned wallpaper.

Last month brought an amazing opportunity to share My Dirty Secret! at the Southbank’s Unlimited Festival. My Dirty Secret! was making its third outing (previous shows were at DC1 Gallery in Eastbourne and Apthorp Gallery at Artsdepot in North Finchley) and I was proud to exhibit alongside other fabulous disabled artists in such an esteemed venue. Thanks go to Unlimited and Spirit of 2012 for commissioning, supporting and funding the work, and to Southbank for programming it in their festival.

As usual, the most exciting part for me is watching people in the space, interacting with the work; seeing people laugh, cry and talk animatedly about their own experiences and how the work resonates with them. It’s what it’s all about!

With My Dirty Secret! I have shared some of my own stories, but also the stories of others. In particular, the ‘Dirty phone calls’ that visitors could listen in to or read in the ‘private mail’, really brought the piece to life. It allowed a connection with people of different generations, cultures and life experiences. This blog is really a thank you to all of those people; those who participated by sharing their (sometimes very personal) stories either as part of the artwork itself or in conversation with me in the installation. Whether you’re clean, dirty, messy or tidy, your stories and responses have helped to make My Dirty Secret! an engaging piece and made my experience in developing and sharing it, a real pleasure. Thank you!

Dirty Books

Close-up photo of a ball of hair on carpet.

Straight from the pages of the Dirty Books on the My Dirty Secret! bookshelves…

Hairball

Of all the household chores, the one I find hardest is vacuuming. It’s awkward and requires strength and mobility to both operate and manoeuvre around the house. The frustration I feel cuts deep. Perhaps it’s because it causes me physical pain to do it, perhaps it’s because I depend on others to do it for me. Loss of independence becomes very visible when you can literally see the consequences of it building up around you. As the dirt, the fluff, the discarded rice-krispies and the dead moths pile up (or get stuck to the bottom of my socks) there is no doubt that I am losing control over my own environment.

Visit the Dirty Books and browse through My Dirty Secret! to discover the honest and familiar stories of one exasperated artist battling to keep control over her environment.