Sunday, May 01, 2016

BADD 2016: Nerys Johnson's "every atom of concentration"

Okay, I'm here for BADD 2016, because how could I break our eleven-year streak of participation? I couldn't.  I'm not so much of a blogger these days, but I'm willing to add my bit to the big event.  For our past ten appearances in the series: 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006. (For the record, the 2007 and 2008 entries are two of my favorite blog posts I've ever written, on any blog, or any topic.  BADD has been good for me.)
And.... I'm still on a Wikipedia kick. Just finished "Awaken the Dragon," a month-long event by WikiProject Wales, to improve Wikipedia content about Wales and Welsh people. I had fun looking for relevant biographies that needed an article, and as of today I've worked on 37 new articles since April 1, and improved ("destubbed") 7 others.

Were there any disabled people? Of course there were! Because there always are. I actually wrote the entry on physically-disabled surgeon Hugh Morriston Davies (1879-1965) after finding a note about him that I'd written here, at DSTU, almost six years ago.  Rev. Daniel Davies (1797-1876) was a blind preacher noted for his erudition; I first found him when the National Library of Wales uploaded some photographs of him to Flickr Commons. Aristocrat Olive Talbot (1842-1894) was an example of a nineteenth-century "invalid"--she rarely left home because her physical issues made it difficult, but she corresponded with interesting friends, and spent her inheritance funding church renovation projects in Wales.

And then there's artist Nerys Johnson (1946-2001) (pictured at left, a middle-aged white woman seated in a colorful smock, holding a paint brush in her right hand.)  Johnson had rheumatoid arthritis from childhood; she was also a painter and a curator in the north of England, noted for her bold works and original exhibit ideas.  And she had a thing or two to say about the disablism of well-meaning admirers.

"I am not an artist because of my disabilities. I am appalled when people see my painting as a hobby, and comment how relaxing it must be. If they just knew how it takes every ounce of energy I've got, every atom of concentration." 

(from this 2000 interview)

If you're ever even tempted to compliment someone on a hobby that's really a vocation, because they're disabled--that might be disablism. If you want to comment "oh, that must be such good therapy" to someone who creates for joy or for a living, but definitely not as therapy--that might be disablism too.

When I woke up this morning, Nerys Johnson didn't have a Wikipedia article; now she does. Happy BADD! 

Go here to read all the other BADD 2016 contributions.


Adelaide Dupont said...

Nerys is great.

Put "writing" in for "painting" and I could say much the same about the devaluation of the way disabled people spend their time.

The Goldfish said...

Really great to see you around again this year, Penny! As Adelaide says, pretty much all our creative work is seen as either a hobby or therapy...

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