Towards a Scientific Model of Disability

Memory Jar Collection 5

Colour photograph of glass jars on a glass shelf, containing photographs of animals and people.

Colour photograph of the head and shoulders of a tanned woman with strong features and greying short hair, smiling against a background of riverside apartments.

61) Maki's face

3 August 2011

Maki was another friend of David Morris, and joined Ursula, Julie and I for the farewell meal before Ursula returned to Germany. I got to know Maki through David's 'Red Jesus' salon events at his flat in Limehouse - Maki lives across the river in Deptford. Maki works as a volunteer for Cooltan Arts and was recently granted the Freedom of her borough for her efforts; her face is well-known in Southwark.

Colour photograph of a tabby and white cat rubbing its head against the hand of a woman who is bending down to stroke her. She is wearing sandals and trousers and clutching her knee with her other hand.

62) Hilary's knee

4 August 2011

Hilary is an expert on the lives of twentieth-century writers for girls, and as such we have often spoken at the same conferences and other events for book collectors. On one memorable occasion in 1997 we were the main speakers at a Coventry Library Service's literary festival event about the school-story writer Angela Brazil. The room became so crowded that the library officials had to post security guards on the door to prevent anyone else from entering (although they had to relent in the case of a woman who had travelled all the way from Hull). It was the only event to sell out in a festival that included other 'local' authors such as George Eliot and Philip Larkin! More recently, Hilary spoke at a conference which accompanied my Canning Town Folk exhibition in October 2010, as she is an expert on the folk dancer and teacher D.C. Daking. Hilary recently had an operation on her knee, which has been painful for some years now. While convalescing, she agreed to rehome Rio, who by then had been living in my office for more than three weeks and was keen to move on. Here Rio showed that she was more than happy to stay with her new owner, before I left for home.


Colour photograph of the head and shoulders of a smiling older man with white hair and glasses, wearing a royal blue polo shirt.

63) Wally's mouth

7 August 2011

Wally Pitt has been leading the East Holton Driving Centre for disabled people for seven years now, having taken over from the founders Margaret and John Newell. Although Wally admits to being in his 70s, he has been arriving for work (unpaid) at 8am daily since he first began to volunteer, and only recently began to take weekends off. I first met Wally in 2006 when I began work as artist-in-residence to the National Disability Arts Collection and Archive at Holton Lee, and with my partner Julie was quickly welcomed to the stables. For the rest of the residency (until 2010) we spent part of every day at Holton Lee down at the stables, drinking tea - or on Friday evenings eating fish and chips - or just chatting and catching up. Wally's smile welcomes everyone to the stables, even when they have just been walking past on their way somewhere else. Here he was welcoming people to the now annual Margaret Newell Memorial Day, where everyone associated with the stables comes together to enjoy themselves and raise money to feed and shoe the horses. Wally is currently waiting for heart surgery, but has not let this stop him from doing the work he loves.

Colour photograph of a woman's hands holding a silver horseshoe against a background of a royal blue polo shirt.

64) Denise's hands

7 August 2011

Denise is Wally's partner and is also a long-term volunteer at the East Holton Driving Centre. The Centre is linked to the national Riding for the Disabled Association, and Denise is qualified with the RDA as an 'able-bodied whip'. Since Denise is a user of the mental health system, she and Wally had to lobby hard to get the RDA to agree to allow her to take the qualification, as it was intended only for non-disabled people. Traditionally, disabled people are expected to be recipients of services while non-disabled people volunteer to run these. Over their time at the stables, Wally and Denise have broken down the divisions between disabled and non-disabled people, and have encouraged everyone to get involved in all aspects of the work including as Trustees. Denise's hands are always busy.

Colour photograph of a man's tanned hands against a background of a striped maroon shirt.

65) Martin's hands

7 August 2011

Martin is another disabled volunteer at the East Holton Driving Centre at Holton Lee. His hands are very tanned because he spends so much time working outdoors. His badge for Margaret Newell Day describes him as "Yard Technician and Driver. Looks after horses, drives, escorts and is an essential part of the Team". In 2009 Martin and Wally went on a carriage driving holiday in America, and intend to return again one day. Martin's hands are very much in control of the reins.

Colour photograph of a woman's sandalled foot with a healing scab, against a background of laminate flooring.

66) Pauline's foot

11 August 2011

Pauline is another book-collecting friend, and I got to know her after she offered to walk Genie during a residential conference in Newcastle. Pauline has had a number of Westies during her life and loves them dearly, and similarly Genie adores Pauline. Pauline was without a dog when we first got to know her, but now has a rescue Westie Bobbie. Bobbie was beaten by his previous owners, and consequently reacts to the slightest touch by biting. Inevitably, it is impossible to avoid touching him by accident all of the time. As a result Pauline usually has a new wound or scar to show us when we see her. There is always a touch of guilt in wondering if she would have got another Westie if she hadn't become friends with Genie first! Bobbie is a lovely dog though despite all of this.

Colour photograph of a West Highland Terrier's head, seen from the side.

67) Bobbie's ear

11 August 2011

Bobbie is a rescue Westie who was born in Poland and originally came to the UK as a puppy. He has obviously had some bad experiences in the past, because he instinctively reacts to touch by turning round and biting. This has led to some nasty wounds for his owner Pauline when she has touched him by accident - he adores her so is often cuddled up close. Like most Westies, Bobbie listens very intently to what is going on around him. Westies vary slightly in appearance, and Bobbie has relatively large ears.

Colour photograph of a woman's hand stroking a small golden yellow dog.

68) Melissa's hand

13 August 2011

Melissa is another friend that I met through David Morris. Mel is an amazing distance swimmer, and trains at the Aspire Centre every morning at 6am. In 1989 Mel also co-founded the Independent Living Alternatives (ILA) agency with David, which promotes the right of disabled people to live independently by working with disabled people and our personal assistants. Mel continues to work in the ILA office as a volunteer, in addition to her swimming and bringing up her son Charlie.

Colour photograph of a large black dog's paws resting against a blue patterned carpet.

69) Norton's paws

13 August 2011

Norton is a black Labrador who is trained by Dogs for the Disabled, and is Melissa's assistance dog. Norton is also a very good friend of Genie. He used to think Genie was a very small dog, but that was before Melissa bought her Chihuahuas (see jars 70 & 71). Norton is a lovely dog, and allows the Chihuahuas to climb on his back - they think he is there to provide assistance to them too!

Colour photograph of a teenager's hand resting on a computer mouse against a wooden desk.

70) Charlie's hand

13 August 2011

Melissa's 14 year old son Charlie is usually connected to his computer by one hand, as he is a very good gamer. Charlie also loves dogs, and they love him. Our mutual friend David Morris was a film-maker in his spare time, and in a very funny cameo scene in a film David shot one Xmas, Charlie stars as a wolf-boy brought up by assistance dog Norton!

Colour photograph of a brindle chihuahua's head, staring at the camera.

71) Didi's jaws

13 August 2011

Didi is the smallest dog I have ever met. She is a Chihuahua who looks like a miniature Staffordshire bull terrier and thinks she is a Rottweiler! Melissa and Charlie bought Didi as a puppy in April 2010 after our friend David died, and from the beginning she cheered up everyone who held her. Didi is now indisputably the head of the pack, and even Genie allows her to be dominant. This is helped by Didi's ferocious bark!

Colour photograph of a golden-brown chihuahua resting on a beige patterned pet bed.

72) George's ribs

13 August 2011

George is a 3 year old Chihuahua who came to join Melissa's menagerie in May 2011. He is very timid, and when he arrived he had little muscle tone, suggesting that he had been kept in a cage for most of his life. He was also very thin, but here he has put a little fat as well as muscle on his ribs. George is happy for Didi to be in charge, and for Norton to provide protection for him!

Colour photograph of a woman's tanned legs in short grey leggings and rubber sandals, against the background of a domestic sitting room.

73) Martine's legs

23 August 2011

I met Martine while the Abnormal exhibition was at the Torch Theatre in Wales in spring 2011. At that time she was living on her catamaran in Fishguard Harbour, opposite the house where I was staying. Martine had been sailing the catamaran back from the north-west where she had bought it to the south coast, but recurring problems caused her to stay in Fishguard for several months. In July she was finally able to get the boat back to Kent, and the weekend before this photograph was taken I met her again with friends who were staying on another boat she owns, the Iceni, in Gillingham harbour. Martine had a long career in the public sector, working as part of a mental health team, but she has been boating since taking early retirement and has long had her 'sea legs'. In 2013, she is taking a diverse crew of artists on the Iceni on a voyage to the Arctic.

Colour photograph of the head and shoulders of a smiling Asian woman, wearing glasses and a lacy white headscarf.

74) Sarifa's face

25 August 2011

Sarifa wanted to show her face to demonstrate that she is proud to wear the headscarf as a Muslim woman. Sarifa is a community disability activist, and also works for the organisation Parents for Inclusion. She is a disabled woman, but also a carer for her son and husband; often people fail to understand that disabled people can be carers too. I met Sarifa in the mid-noughties when we began to serve on some of the same local committees and partnership boards, and we soon became friends and allies. I live in the most diverse borough in the country, Newham, and it always surprises me when people who live in far less diverse areas claim that different communities in areas like mine do not mix. In fact people from all backgrounds come together to enjoy a wide range of activities and to support each other; I have friends whose families originate from all over the planet.

Colour photograph of an older white woman, with shortish brown hair and a prominent gold-coloured watch on her wrist.

75) Chris's eyes

25 August 2011

As with Sarifa, I met Chris through serving on some of the same local committees and partnership boards. Chris is blind, and has a long history of community service. She also has a guide dog, which can be problematic for my dog Genie. Genie has always been nervous of other dogs; I became very ill when she was a puppy so we were unable to attend training classes. Later, we found that other people often set their dogs on us if we went to the park - this is a common experience for disabled dog owners. Now Genie is much better, but is always worried by guide dogs. Only recently did we work out that guide dogs appear to be out of the control of their owners, since they are guiding them, and other dogs misinterpret this behaviour. Here, Sarifa, Chris, my partner and I met for a rare non-working lunch, and left both dogs behind.

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Colour photograph of glass jars on a glass shelf, containing photographs of animals and people.

© Ju Gosling aka ju90 2011

Funded by the
wellcome trust

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