The Olympics were enjoyed in Britain as much for the hundreds of artistic and cultural events the Games inspired across the nation, as the thrilling sport. The Paralympic Games are no different, as the London 2012 Festival continues with its Unlimited Festival, and other unique events take place in the capital.
The Unlimited Festival begins on 30 August, with the involvement of nearly 200 deaf and disabled artists taking part in 29 new commissions. Highlights include a performance by Dame Evelyn Glennie, the Grammy-award winning percussionist who led the beat in Danny Boyle’s Opening Ceremony to the Olympics on 31 August; the British Paraorchestra, which was founded last year and features world-class musicians with disabilities, will perform the same evening; 22 year old autistic artist Rodney invites the audience to ‘enter seven dimensions you never knew existed, featuring unique characters, superhero robots and smoking Samurais’, in a free audio-video installation running throughout the festival; and ‘Creating the Spectacle’ is a film documenting a series of performances by artist Sue Austin in her self-propelled underwater wheelchair.
The Liberty Festival takes place every year in London, showcasing the work of deaf and disabled artists. As well as coinciding with the Paralympics and Unlimited Festival, the event celebrates its tenth year in 2012. Highlights include comedienne Ruby Wax appearing at the Clore Ballroom, Royal Festival Hall, on 1 September. On 2 September Trafalgar Square will host a jazz, blues and R&B spectacular from award-winning singer Lizzie Emeh of Heart n Soul and Finnish sign song superstar Sign Mark. Liberty is taking place across several venues, including BFI Southbank, National Theatre, Southbank Centre, Trafalgar Square and Potters Fields.
There is more Paralympic-inspired art in the capital, with Spare Parts at the Rag Factory gallery on Brick Lane (25 August – 9 September). Spare Parts turns prosthetic limbs into artworks, an idea initiated by Australian curator and amputee Priscilla Sutton, who first exhibited the artworks she commissioned artists to create in Brisbane in 2010. Artists use the pre-used prosthetic limbs as a blank canvas on which to create what they like, and the results are colourful and, most importantly, break down the taboos around talking about difference.
As part of the London 2012 Festival’s series of ‘Surprises’, an ‘artistic ambush’ will be taking place in London: What You Will: Pop-Up Shakespeare. Devised by award-winning actor Mark Rylance, the event will include surprise performances from the Bard’s most famous characters including Puck, Hamlet, Cleopatra and Juliet, played by 50 actors aged between 17 and 70, including deaf and disabled artists, all of whom were selected by Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. Initially hidden in the crowd, the characters will suddenly emerge to surprise and delight onlookers with personalised one-to-one performances and flash mob moments. During these brief and intimate interactions, the public will hear some of Shakespeare’s most evocative speeches.
The posters commissioned for the Olympic and Paralympic Games are available to see free at Tate Britain; these include Tracey Emin’s sketch for the Paralmypics Birds 2012, featuring the touching message ‘You inspire me with your determination and I love you.’
Source: Visit Britain