Raised in the marshlands of Essex, Ju originally trained as a dancer, but moved to studying film when she developed a spinal curvature as a teenager. She enjoyed her student years at UEA, managing a band and living with its lead guitarist while producing no-budget local media projects within a scene that also included Gurinder Chadha, Charlie Higson, Caroline Flint and Steve Caplin. (Ju later spent another decade pursuing two more degrees part-time, until debt finally convinced her to kick the student habit.)
Having set up a community zine in Norwich when she first graduated with a degree in English Studies and Film Studies, Ju soon moved to London, where she worked alongside her studies as a social affairs journalist for a variety of different community and campaign groups and magazines and in television documentaries. She was based in Newham, East London from1985, with the exception of the 18 months that she spent living in a surfer's community in Cornwall while completing her PhD. Wherever she lived in those early days, Ju also continued to enjoy life as a part-time rock chick, activist, photographer and cartoon writer.
At the beginning of the 1990s Ju embraced the new digital media, as a way of integrating her various art forms with her DIY media origins and her decreasing mobility. Her alias ju90 arose when she decided to explore notions of identity and power relationships in cyberspace. In order to avoid having two completely separate identities, Ju was later forced to shorten her birth name (Juliet) as a result of her alias being over-enthusiastically welcomed in real life. She did, however, welcome in turn the possibilities offered by having both an androgynous name and title, after receiving her PhD in Communications and Image Studies from the University of Kent at the end of the 90s. Ju then gained a new nickname: 'Doc'.
In 1997, while living in Cornwall, Ju was prescribed a spinal brace after an undiagnosed fracture in 1990 had left her with chronic spinal pain. She rediscovered her per-former self when she decorated the brace (pictured above), and used the experience of wearing it to explore social constructions of disability via what would now be called a blog. Having decided that she couldn't wait any longer for men to change, Ju also realized that she wasn't interested anyway and became a lesbian. Perversely, this actually improved her relationship with her male friends and fans. Ju also finally accepted that she preferred electronica to rock, and ditched her Glastonbury AAA pass for Matthew Glamorre's club scene where Bishi and Patrick Wolf were being nutured as teenagers.
In 1997 Ju also became the first person in the UK to present her PhD (in Communication and Image Studies) as a hypertext [website]. Her ground-breaking 'thesis' demonstrated what an accessible and engaging textbook could look like if it was presented as a website, combining still images, text and video with multiple reading paths, and foreseeing the development of the ebook. Ju's specialist subject was girl culture and girl power, as manifested in the girls' school stories that the majority of British girls enjoyed reading in the twentieth century - long after the critics had declared the books dead. (The most recent St Trinian's film proves, of course, how much we still love to parody the genre today, and the fond place that it takes in our collective affections.)
In the 21st century Ju became best-known as an artist, working mainly with digital lens-based media but also with performance, text and sound (see below for more details). Despite failing her Art A Level, Ju's work has been presented/commissioned/exhibited in the US, Canada, Australia, India, Finland, Austria and Switzerland as well as the UK, with funders including the Arts Council England and the cities of Graz, Zurich, Leicester and Bradford. (Click here to read a full list of exhibitions, commissions etc.) Ju situates her artistic practice within the theories and traditions of the international Disability Arts movement. Ju has no gallery or agency representation, but along with her assistance Jazz - currently being trained as an assistance dog with the help of Dog Aid - was an Ugly model. Ju also runs a small-press publishing company, Bettany Press, and works as a consultant.
Despite these achievements the 21st century did not start auspiciously for Ju, when she became seriously ill after attending a journalists' conference on the west coast of Ireland and later failed to make a full recovery. Ju's GP continues to believe that her drink was spiked with a drug such as Ketamine, after the promised wheelchair access and personal support she by then needed to be independent failed to materialise. After the conference organizers, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), refused to apologise for these failings, Ju successfully took them to a Tribunal where they were found guilty of four counts of discrimination, two of them major, and of personal injury. Ju was the first person to win a case under the clauses of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) as they relate to trade unions, and this was despite having to represent herself with the support of volunteers because legal aid is not available for DDA cases.
The NUJ continues to refuse to apologise to Ju, and she has now almost entirely ceased to work as a journalist. This is despite the fact that she had been active in NUJ equality politics since 1985, when she became prominent for challenging transphobic reporting. In her time as Chair of the NUJ's Equality Council, Ju helped to transform media reporting of HIV, as well as founding the NUJ Disabled Members' Council.
Following her Tribunal case, Ju was invited to co-chair TUDA, the Trade Union Disability Alliance, with the late Caroline Gooding - then head of legal affairs at the Disabiltiy Rights Commission. TUDA has an open membership of disabled workers from across all of the main trade unions in the UK. Ju co-chaired TUDA for a number of years, helping to develop the Trade Union Charter for Disability Equality which enables unions to make a positive commitment to implementing equality legislation and promoting equality. (The NUJ continues to refuse to sign it.) In 2010 Ju retired from trade union politics after a total of 25 years in the movement - but without the thank you and lifetime Membership of Honour that would normally have been given to an NUJ member with her proud record.
In 2012 Ju directed the Together! 2012 free Disability Arts and Human Rights Festival as a London 2012 Local Leader on behalf of the UK Disabled People's Council. The festival took place in the Host Borough of Newham to celebrate the Paralympics (29 August-9 September 2012) and Disability History Month (22 November-22 December 2012). Ju is now Artistic Director of the Together! 2012 Community Interest Company, founded to take forward the work as part of the Paralympic Legacy. Together! 2012 CIC has since won multiple awards and receives core funding from Arts Council England and the National Lottery Community Fund.
In February 2014 Ju directed "Access All Areas!" with Folk in Motion at Cecil Sharp House, funded by Arts Council England with the support of the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS). AAA celebrated the refurbishment of Cecil Sharp House, with the installation of a lift to create step-free acess. Ju launched the Folk in Motion project in November 2011, reinventing traditional English dances for wheelchair users with funding from Arts Council England. Folk in Motion received the London 2012 Inspire mark in January 2012, and is now a Community Interest Company led by Ju as Artistic Director. In 2013 Folk in Motion also established the East London Wheelchair Dance Club, with support from the London Borough of Newham and the Mayor of London's Freesport programme.
From 2012-12 Ju was the Artist Facilitator for the Get the Message Working Group at Camden Arts Centre. The Group brought together senior educators from galleries and museums across the UK to look at best practice in the inclusion of disabled people.
In September 2013 Ju was an international guest speaker and artist at the Common Pulse: Intersecting Abilities symposium and festival in Ontario, organised by Durham Art Gallery and OCAD University.
In July and August 2013, Ju's installation The Memory Jar Collection was shown as part of the Disabled by Normality exhibition at the DOX Contemporary Art Gallery in Prague. The Memory Jar Collection was originally created for Ju's national touring Abnormal exhibition at the Royal College of Surgeons' Hunterian Museum in London from 15 September 2011 - 14 January 2012.
In 2012 Ju was Associate Producer of Vis-a-Visibility, a joint theatre and film production by Regard, the national LGBT disabled people's organisation, and Artemis Theatre Company, about the lives of LGBT disabled people. Directed by Clare Summerskill, the production was funded by Arts Council England. A filmed version is currently in development.
In September 2012 Ju performed with Signdance Collective International in Defining the Ineffable, a film installation directed by David Bower for The Meeting Room exhibition at Sevenoaks' Kaleidoscope Gallery. (Ju is currently an SDC Associate Artist.) In July 2012 Ju exhibited an artist's film at the Royal Society's Science Live exhibition, as part of the UCL's Institute of Healthy Ageing exhibit. In March 2012 Ju was keynote speaker at Engage Scotland's All Being Equal conference, about improving access to galleries for disabled people.
In 2011/12 Ju's national touring Abnormal exhibition climaxed at the Royal College of Surgeons' Hunterian Museum in London from 15 September 2011 - 14 January 2012 (funded by the Wellcome Trust). Meanwhile her Canning Town Folk exhibition (funded by Arts Council England) was at Cecil Sharp House, the HQ of the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS), from 27 September until 4 December 2011.
Earlier in 2011, alongside the national tour of Abnormal, Ju worked with Fittings Multimedia Arts at Croydon Clocktower with Sputnik: A Project of Possibilities. As part of the residency Ju made a short film, Fellow Traveller, which she later presented in Glasgow at Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre's (the makers of Sputnik) 15th birthday celebrations.
In July 2011 Ju also released the website version of her gallery piece No Hope of Rescue, exploring human interference in emergency systems and cultural concepts of rescue.
In September 2010 Ju co-produced a poetry, film and chill-out 'pop up' club, Red Jesus, at the Liberty Festival in Trafalgar Square in tribute to the late David Morris, the Mayor of London's disability adviser. In December Ju accepted David Morris's Lifetime Achievement Award on his behalf at the DaDaFest International Festival in Liverpool.
In August 2009 Ju launched The Letter Writing Project, a creative response to Lee Mingwei's The Letter Writing Project at the 2009 Edinburgh Festival's Enlightenments exhibition. This work challenges the inaccessibility of the fine art world to disabled artists and art lovers, and Ju is currently developing a one-woman show.
From 2006-2010 Ju was the artist-adviser to/artist-in-residence at the National Disability Arts Collection and Archive at Holton Lee in Dorset with architects Sarah Wigglesworth, documenting the process in her Holton Lee Blog.
In 2008 Ju completed a part-time 18-month artist's residency at the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR), funded by the Wellcome Trust. The resulting exhibition, Abnormal: Towards a Scientific Model of Disability opened at NIMR on 31 January 2008 and ran for eight weeks before touring nationally until 2012 with further support from Wellcome. An accompanying website provides an online version of the exhibition and documents the residency as a whole. Ju has also spoken about the work at a number of conferences, including the Australian Network of Arts and Technology's Super Human: Revolution of the Species symposium in Melbourne in November 2009 where she was a keynote speaker - click here to read her presentation.
In September 2008 Ju's film England, exploring issues of immigration, identity and Englishness through the eyes of a child footballer from London's East End, was premiered at the A Foundation, Liverpool on 6 September 2008. It was later exhibited as an installation within the Life and Liberty exhibition at Westbourne Grove Church from September - October. In 2008 Ju also re-released Put Ya Filas On!, where teenagers from the East End put their trainers through their paces and discuss how peer pressure affects their fashion 'choices' - shot in 1991, it is just as relevant today.
In 2004 Ju was awarded an Artsadmin Digital Media Fellowship for Disabled and Deaf Artists, with work including the Circle of Celebration lightbox 'stone circle'.
Ju's other past projects have included:
In 2001 Ju completed Fight, a film-dance installation exploring the disabled body and movement, performed with Layla Smith (funded by London Arts' Combined Arts Fund and Leicester City Gallery). Fight toured for 13 months as part of the Adorn, Equip touring exhibition originated by Leicester City Gallery, and was then presented at a weekend of artists' films during the 2002 Xposure London Disability Arts Festival. In February 2002 Ju also gave a keynote speech about the work at the Dancing Differently? conference in Manchester, organised by the Community Dance Foundation, and in November she presented the work at the Shifting Aesthetics conference in London. After the exhibition closed, in 2003 Fight was exhibited in Austria as part of the Sinnlos Festival, at the Blue Coat Gallery in Liverpool as part of DaDaFest, and at the Eco Centre in Mile End Park as part of the Identity exhibition. Fight has also been screened at The Other Film Festival in Melbourne in 2004 and the Picture This film festival in Calgary in 2005. In June 2007 Fight was exhibited at the Kennedy Center Terrace Gallery in Washington DC as part of the Renascence 07 digital art show which re-opened in New York in January 2008.
Ju's Home Page site - really a collection of sites - also includes My Not-So-Secret Life as a Cyborg, a website exploring the social construction of disability through performance art, illustrated with a number of self-portraits inspired by the work of Frida Kahlo. In 1999 Ju presented this work on Sky TV's The Lounge; at the 5th International Performance Studies Conference, the 2nd International Interdisciplinary Conference on Women and Health and the Women's Studies Network (UK) Conference; and at the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki where it received national media coverage. My Not-So-Secret Life as a Cyborg was also included in the Adorn, Equip work-in-progress exhibition at Leicester City Gallery in September 1999, where Ju gave the exhibition talk. In 2000 the work was presented at the Institute of Contemporary Arts as part of the Mardi Gras Arts Festival, and at Jacksons Lane as part of their disability arts festival. This work is still being written about internationally in essays/dissertations/PhD theses.
In autumn 1999 Ju completed a virtual residency at Mount Grace Priory, an English Heritage site in Yorkshire, collaborating with an onsite artist, Rita Sheppard, to create a temporary, site-specific installation. This residency was organised by The Art House, and funded by English Heritage, Yorkshire Arts and the Arts Council of England. In 2000 Ju presented this work at the Arts Council's conference Access Denied? at Sadlers Wells (part of the Get Wired conference series on new technology and the arts).
In 1998 Ju completed a PhD in Communication & Image Studies at the University of Kent at Canterbury, specialising in hypermedia and presenting her thesis, Virtual Worlds of Girls - on girl power, girls' school stories and the future of reading in an electronic age - as a website/CD Rom plus a one-hour film. The website has been on virtual exhibition at London's Cyberia Cafe, reviewed in The Times and The Guardian, and featured on Sky TV's Download. It has also been hotlinked to and attracts email from all over the world. Ju has presented the work at a number of conferences and literary events. The accompanying film, The Chalet School Revisited, was premiered at the Lux Cinema in London in November 1998, and was described by Roland Keating, then Editor of BBC2's Bookmark series, as: 'A remarkable illustration of what the latest technology makes possible, and an enjoyably informative documentary in its own right.' The project is now being distributed by Cinenova and Bettany Press.
In her 'spare' time, Ju now co-Chairs Regard, the national LGBT Disabled people's organization, and represents LGBT disabled people on a range of national committees and consultation groups. Most recently these have included the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI)'s Experts by Experience, various London 2012consultation groups, and the Government-led group overseeing the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People. Ju also enjoys dinghy sailing with the aid of electronic sail controls. She has been with her partner, the equality campaigner Julie Newman, since 2000.
Photo: Bob Jones/Gaze 1998
Contact Ju by email
Return to Ju Gosling's Home Page
|Dr Ju Gosling aka ju90's ABNORMAL: How Britain became body dysphoric and the key to a cure is available now for just £3.09 for the Kindle or in a limited-edition hardback with full-colour art plates for £20 inc UK postage and packing.|