Meaning from making… an artist’s perspective on working with disability

Artist Francesca Currie visited Sense community hub Touchbase Pears to observe an art session there in preparation for our show Making Together, which features the work of people with complex disabilities.

She made sketches and produced two paintings and a 3D-printed drawing for inclusion in the Making Together exhibition.

Fran told ART BLOG…

In a session like this I will bring a sketchbook and a camera. I will try and take in as much of the day as possible: the general feeling; what is most important; and what is going on in the room. I will make quick studies to use for later work then draw up final pieces in the studio.


Making Sense – 3D Piece, please do touch

I don’t plan. You never know what is going to happen on the day, so the only thing you can do is prepare for that.

I played some Nina Simone and one of the participants started dancing with the tutor. I couldn’t have planned for such a lovely moment and wanted to capture that in the painting.


What struck me most during the session was the cathartic nature of art. When some of the participants came in, they were wound up or restless. After a time, some of them relaxed and clearly enjoyed the session.

One man just enjoyed the feel of the clay on the wheel. The art room is a safe space for the participants, just like it is for me.


Felt-making concentration…

I wanted to make three pieces about not having full use of all your senses. I wanted to create pieces that were blurred in part, or not totally clear. I hope this is the power of the work – to build connections and empathy between participants and gallery-goers.

I also produced two pieces that are purely for people with visual impairment. The line is raised so that when they come in, they can feel the art to see it. Hopefully, I’m building on the idea of connection and creating work that is accessible for all.

RBSA and Sense: Making Together

The Making Together exhibition follows our Connecting Creatively exhibition of 2018, which was a ground-breaking project for the Society. Sense is a national charity that supports people who have complex disabilities and helps them to enjoy more independent lives.

The exhibition opens on 27 February and the RBSA will be offering free guided tours and multi-sensory tours during the show including a BSL tour on 27 February, 1-3pm. Contact Natalie at the RBSA on 0121 236 4353 to book a place.

Making Together moves to TouchBase Pears as a community exhibition in March.

This project / exhibition is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and a donation by the Grimmitt Trust.

Lottery logo

Our accessibility video can be viewed at YouTube

About the Artist

Francesca is an RBSA Member and full time artist based in Cheltenham. Francesca studied at The University College of the Arts in Norwich where she achieved a B.A. Honours in Fine Art. She went on to study at the London Atelier of Representational Art. She then moved home four years ago to set up full time as an artist. She has exhibited across the country including London, Broadway, and York and had a solo show at the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists. She was nominated to become an associate to the R.B.S.A. in 2017 and elected a full member this year. She has had numerous private and public commissions including the former jockey Jonjo O’Neill, the Bishop of Worcester and the Sword Bearer of Worcester.

#artanddisability #artandhealth #artistswithdisabilities #inclusivearts

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