DAN, WIPE and WPICC Exhibitions at Tesco Bulwell Extra, Nottingham - The story so far ...

I met Chris Tilley, the Community Champion at Tesco Bulwell Extra last year and we had a conversation about Meiyo Karate Club moving to the store as the club was having problems finding affordable accommodation.

What transpired  was further dialogue about a community arts project to make use of the corridor space outside of the Community Room at the store.  Some 8 months later, we were given the green light to set up a rolling exhibition space at the store.

It's been a good team effort from all concerned:  staff from Tesco, members of Meiyo Karate Club, members of the poetry group, camera club and members of the Disabled Artists' Network all got together and put their energies into helping this project come to life.

Our youngest volunteer - Benjamin Latos
(Meiyo Karate Club)  with Dad Hubert
We all have different skill sets and we all contributed whatever we could to help bring the change that was needed to turn this space into an art gallery but not just any art gallery, this gallery has a purpose apart from the obvious ... to destigmatise disability - particularly mental health.

Our volunteers varied in age, ability and disability but we had a common goal: to get this gallery setup and operational before the end of August 2018.

Staff from B and Q
Left: Paul (DAN) - Right:  Jim (Tesco Staff)
Nandina & Dave (DAN)
The boards, paint, fixings, ladders etc were purchased at B&Q Riverside, Nottingham.  We were given a discount and some vouchers for which we were very grateful.  We wouldn't have been able to meet our deadline without their financial help.  We also had some vouchers from Tesco Bulwell Extra to help cover the cost of the materials from Chris Tilley.

Jim, the maintenance bod from Tesco Bulwell Extra kicked off the first board installation with Paul and Tim, Gary and myself helped with the first boards.  We cracked on with it once Jim had shown us what to do but the pace was slow.

Hannah and Adam (AR Walker Plumbing and Heating)
Then along came Hannah and Adam (parents of one of our Karateka) with a surprise drop in from Nandina (DAN) and partner 'The Tool Man'.  The rest of us assisted where possible and these people had the remainder of the boards up in no time while Julie and Ravinder made a start on the painting.

Julie and Ravinder (DAN)
Good progress was being made now and the most worrying aspect of the project had been overcome - the boards were up safely.

Over the next 2 weeks the boards were painted, coat after coat, under the direction of Julie (Assistant Project Curator) until they looked just right.  Angie and Karen from the Camera Club dropped in to help with the painting too and the boards were soon looking good.

Ready for the art work!
Paul and Tim (DAN)
Next we had to install all of the signage that had been produced by Gangeprint.com at a considerable discount.  We also have a series of statements about disability and life experiences that are a permanent feature in the space.  The aim being to help other people understand how easily one can find themselves in a position of difficulty through everyday life - let alone traumatic events.  We were now a week away from the deadline as friends were going to be flying in to view the exhibition before the official opening.

Poetry Group Exhibition
We noticed that there was a problem with some shopping trolleys bashing or scraping into the boards, so stanchions with safety belts had to be purchased and put into place to protect the boards and art work (when it would be installed).  Nothing was overlooked in terms of safety and presentation.
Camera Club Exhibition

Then it was time to get the art work installed for the first show.  We had a wide ranging selection ready from a collection of artists that had been working with the project over the last 18 months or so, including exhibits from the Camera Club and the Poetry Group.

DAN Meeting
We have three exhibitions in one here!  We also have people contributing towards these exhibitions from other countries:  Canada, Finland, Denmark, Romania, India, Nepal, Wales, Scotland, Netherlands and Eire.  I'm hoping that the level of inclusion will help to break down barriers and promote greater understanding of our differences ... and through the arts ... our similarities.

Angie and Richard working on image editing.
Lord Mayor opening the exhibition
Just before the official opening, we had a sponsor come and visit us and sit in on one our DAN (Disabled Artists' Network) meetings.  Jon Souza, of LSM Global, was visiting with his wife Kris and totally surprised me by announcing that he'd be sponsoring Wolf Photography to continue running these projects.

Myself, Cllr Michael Edwards and Chris Tilley
On Wednesday 13th September, Cllr Michael Edwards, Lord Mayor of Nottingham, officially opened the exhibition to the public.  We had a great turn out from the contributors and other people that have been responsible in bringing this project to Tesco Bulwell Extra, Nottingham.

We run an event every Friday evening at the store in the Community Room in the following order: Social meeting of all groups, DAN meeting, Poetry Group and the Camera Club.  You can see the full list of events taking place on the project's main Facebook Page.  These are community events to which you're all welcome.

If you'd like to contribute your art poetry towards the exhibitions, please click on the appropriate title below the image.





In 2013, I launched a series of rolling exhibitions to raise awareness of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and to promote creativity as a coping mechanism for disability. My poetry raised awareness of what living with PTSD  feels like, while my photography demonstrated my escape from the ‘Chains of PTSD’.

My exhibitions, ‘Living with PTSD’ and ‘Intimacy with Plants’ ran over a 12 month period from November 2013 and surpassed all of the goals that I’d set.  While allowing me to interact with and listen to other people with disabilities, civilians and veterans alike –  I was made aware of similar problems being experienced by others but on a wider scale.   People were opening up at the exhibitions by either leaving comments in the Guestbook, through social media or talking to me direct.  Some people thought that PTSD only affected veterans.  I spoke to some people that described symptoms of PTSD whose symptoms started after incidents as wide ranging as sexual abuse, to bullying and road traffic accidents.

One issue was made clear to me: there is still a lot of ignorance about Mental Health related
conditions, not just PTSD, in society.  I was given examples of that ignorance as people
relayed stories of how they’d been mistreated by professionals and, unfortunately, these included police officers, paramedics, solicitors, barristers, doctors, GPs, nurses and NHS admin staff in
 parts of the East Midlands.  There is also a tremendous amount of ignorance about the link between
 physical health and mental health.  If people with mental health conditions are isolated and
stay indoors without any exercise, they can develop physical health issues.  If active, social people
 find themselves isolated because of a physical injury they can develop a mental health condition.

I started setting up DAN (the Disabled Artists’ Network) in 2015.  I wanted to give others a chance to tell their own story about disability and creativity and how  it’s helped them to survive.  I didn’t rule out non-disabled artists but I needed to prioritise raising the profiles of disabled artists in our communities.

It's your turn now

It's up to you now ... get involved!  Come and exhibit your art, photography and poetry with us from wherever on this Earth you are ... or further afield!

My sincere thanks to everyone that has helped to get this new venue setup;  I have a feeling that this project will be here for a good while.

Thank you for taking the time to read this piece.  Please share it out on social media and let's get other people involved.

Kind regards

Villayat 'Wolf' Sunkmanitu
Project Curator

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