All Swim in the River of Life and Lean Towards Salvation

Page 1

Paul A. Darke

all swim in the river of life and lean towards salvation

First Published in 2013 by Digital Disability - Outside Centre Clark Road, Wolverhampton WV3 9PB England © 2013 Paul A. Darke (on behalf of all contributors) Designed by Outside Centre / Digital Disability Printed and Bound by Print Creative Ltd All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers and copyright holders. Please note that permission, if requested, will almost always be given, at no charge.

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data: Darke, Paul A., All Swim in the River of Life and Lean Towards Salvation I. Title II. Darke, Paul A. ISBN 978 0 9565348 9 7 Outside Centre is a UK Registered Charity (1117578) whose primary mission is the promotion of disability and disabled people through art (including all media forms), education and health. Digital Disability is the official website and imprint name for Outside Centre. If you enjoyed this publication, please enable us to do more by making a donation. To donate, go to our website: This publication was made possible by a grant from Arts Council England through their ‘Grants for the Arts’ funding scheme.


For my late Father Sydney Darke


y father used to tell me that there was always someone faster than you even if you were the fastest in the world; richer if you were the richest; poorer if you were the poorest; cleverer if you were the cleverest. They had just not had the time, opportunity or inclination to show it. What really mattered was how you treated other people and how they treated you: honestly and equally - nothing more and nothing less.

all swim in the river of life and lean towards salvation Experiencing the 2012 Paralympics from a Disability Art Perspective Senses of the transformation of the prevalent settings, existing structures and visual codes that determined the London 2012 Paralympics Games, placed upon this single large canvas through images, words, ideas, and film brought together to explore these Paralympics. Paul A. Darke Walker Darke Marie Claire Darke

Photography Photography Photography

Debbie Jolly Essay Ann Whitehurst

Live Art DVD


Acknowledgment 11 Preface by Liz Carr


Introduction by Paul A. Darke


Watching 18 1 2 Games 26 3 Places 31 4

Day 3 of The Paralympics


Essay by Debbie Jolly on Atos


5 Moments 78 6 People 94 6 Media 120 Contributors 140 DVD - Training to Be Me by Ann Whitehurst



Acknowledgements Further thanks go to Mike Layward at DASH; Lois Keidan at LADA; Graham Peet at The Public (West Bromwich); Steve Morris at Wolverhampton City Radio; the trustees of Outside Centre - Ann Whitehurst, Tony Young and Liz Carr; the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) who gave Walker and me Media Accreditation for 2012 Paralympic Games, and Digital Disability for agreeing to publish this original work of creativity and expression.

o artwork exists in isolation, especially one as complex, time-consuming or logistically and financially draining as this one. Thus, it is important to note the key people and organisations who have made this project possible and of whom our appreciation must be stated. Primarily our thanks go to Arts Council England (ACE), especially the support of Nike Jonah, who provided the primary funding through the Grants for the Art programme. In addition, the ACE officers Kate PryorWilliams and Abid Hussain, both of whom provided invaluable advice, support and encouragement throughout the project.

Finally, our appreciation goes to Paddy Long for her editing skills and encouragement. Without the support of many others this publication would not have been possible.


Preface On the night of the Paralympic opening ceremony, I appeared on the BBC programme, Newsnight. Whilst other disabled people were flying through the air in their wheelchairs and riding on giant apples on the other channel, I sat in a studio and said there would be no Paralympic legacy. Having little or no interest in the Games, it is perhaps surprising that Dr Darke asked me to write a preface for this book. Knowing Paul, however, this is precisely why he did ask me. Flicking through the pages, what strikes me is how unique this work is, in that it differs from any other Paralympic representation in either mainstream or independent media. Here, there are no ‘inspirational’ shots of swimmers with stumps clutching their medals and no close-ups of shiny prostheses. Paralympians are not shown as individuals triumphing over tragedy, but instead as occasionally visible yet mostly invisible disabled people, an experience they share with the rest of us. In “All Swim in the River of Life and Lean Towards Salvation”, the artist and academic, Dr Paul Darke has achieved the seemingly impossible – he has brought a political, disability arts perspective to the Paralympics. The world that Paul and the other artists have created is a complex and uncompromising place where a sense of alienation and separateness that would not be out of place in an Edward Hopper picture exist besides images of joy and celebration. In doing so, they have collectively created a Paralympic legacy filled with truth, integrity and humanity. Liz Carr Broadcaster and Writer



Introduction by Paul A. Darke interventions that display an innovative sense of the creative handling and inspiring transformation of the prevalent setting, existing structures and visual codes that determine the Cultural Paralympic realm today. For me, the 2012 Paralympics is one large canvas. What follows is that canvas: one entity co-created with two other photographers, a disability activist / writer, and the leading Disability Arts artist Ann Whitehurst using entirely digital media.

orking in Disability Arts as a director, producer, promoter and exhibitor, and as a practising artist (film and video, photography, interventionist and digital artist), for over 20 years I have accumulated a C.V. that gives a clear indication of my commitment to Disability Arts. Disability Arts is an artistic expression and practice rooted in the political experience of being disabled. It recognises that ‘disability’ is a social and political construct running counter to the social hegemony of illusions of normality. Normality: we all know it does not exist although we work, create, limit, and destroy as if it did.

The additional photographers are Marie Claire Darke and Walker Darke. Marie Claire has been a photographer for many years, while this was Walker’s first professional experience. Each has contributed a range of images carefully constructed to deliver a thoughtful and challenging notion of what ‘The Games’ were (both within the Olympic Park, and other venues, and around the streets of London during the summer of 2012). I have chosen not to identify ‘who took what image’ as the three of us constantly contributed to each other’s ideas, thoughts and creative impulses; given this, it would be disingenuous to attribute any image as a single creative act by any one of us.

This book, its ethos and contributions, have been created within this seemingly atavistic model of Disability Art. It has increasing cultural, social, and political relevance as we head in to a globally uncertain future. Various economic, cultural social, and political crises are happening one after another, while States seek to limit who, what or how we can be as individuals, collectives and as social and political beings. In relation to this project - initially pitched to the Arts Council of England as an original and innovative creative digital intervention around the 2012 Paralympics - I feel that my initial aims and aspirations have been delivered; I have succeeded in what I sought to achieve in partnership with all those involved. This project was a challenge to me as an artist (it definitely extended my practice, abilities and skills in its creation and delivery) and offered an exciting opportunity to express my own personal vision of a unique event in my country and in my back yard from a Disability Art perspective.

The opportunity provided by this project to work on such a large canvas (socially, culturally, architecturally and as a unique moment in time) using digital media and technology was extraordinary. The opportunity to also offer a Young Artist Walker Darke - the same opportunity has been equally rewarding. The work itself, in its scope, quality and potential for audience engagement, is like no other project I have attempted. I hope the artistic risk displayed thrills you, too. Throughout my academic and artistic practice, primarily using combinations of text, artists, film and video and photography, I have sought to explore the ideas of normality and abnormality with a

To paraphrase Lukas Feireiss (Urban Interventions, Gestalten, 2010): I wished to explore, with constant time-based digital creative engagements how the Paralympic canvas can be utilised to focus on artistic 15

the Paralympic Games. Consequently, it was important to contextualise their inclusion with an especially commissioned essay on the subject by leading Disability Politics activist Debbie Jolly.

particular reference to the cultural spaces that exist between those two idea(l)s and illusions. I have always sought to explore cultural, personal, and social fragmentation and ‘ambiguousness’ through the gaze of abnormality / disability from the perspective of a wheelchair user living with severe impairments; this has, in addition, always included issues of class, gender, sexuality (masculinity), and the liminality of a disabled person, related to themes of ‘subjective subjects of subjectivity’.

Finally, I decided to include the Live Art Film and Video piece (DVD) created by Ann Whitehurst then produced and directed by me, commissioned as part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad through Arts Council England’s ‘Disability’ thread Unlimited. It was curated by DASH in association Given the controversy surrounding the with the Live Art Development Agency Paralympics, combined with the economic for performance in the birthplace of the crisis’ legitimating cuts to disabled people’s Olympics, Much Wenlock, in 2012. Ann’s support systems (financial, social, cultural film offers a parallel perspective of the and political), I felt it was important to Paralympics - the parallel games - that include some comment on them as these complements the still images of this were, for disabled people, just as important book both artistically and philosophically as the Games themselves. Thus, the inclusion - a thoughtful and creative Disability Art of images of the demonstration during the engagement with the 2012 Paralympics Paralympics, on Day 3, held at the offices and Cultural Olympiad. of Atos. Atos is an organisation confronted every day at the actual Paralympics as they Paul A. Darke provided all of the data (i.e., information Wolverhampton, September 2013 about the athletes) to journalists during














































A Different View The Demonstration Against Atos Day 3 of the Paralympics 31 August 2012







Essay by Debbie Jolly on Atos

The New Paralympian Politics of the Welfare State?


id the Paralympics herald a new era for disability? What is the Paralympic legacy, and how far does it connect with the new corporate redefinitions of disability, capacity, and positive attitudes? This short piece examines factors that come together to show that the Paralympic legacy

may be more about individualism than about team work and more about having a ‘backup’ plan than relying on payments into the system of the post-WWII Welfare State as we increasingly move towards a corporate State: a ‘corporate model of disability’.



Paralympic Performances

Esther McVey, the current (2013) Minister for Disabled People at Westminster, gushes at every opportunity that we must all ‘build on the Paralympian legacy’. But what does this mean? If it is about celebrating the achievements of generations of disabled people in the disabled people’s own movement, which fought for the equality, rights, and opportunities of those 2012 Paralympians to have the support and human right to shine then we would all applaud that. However, if it is about the new corporatism of the Welfare State and A wheelchair user lacking the use of their disability - the removal of equality, rights legs does not immediately rise up and and opportunities from disabled people walk because they become a Paralympian; - we need to fight it with all our strength. someone with a lifelong health condition Based on the evidence so far, fighting is our does not suddenly lose it. The Paralympians, only option. as all Olympians, are a group of people who represent sporting excellence - but we see no headlines declaring that Olympians have transcended their ‘everydayness’. Nondisabled people are not urged to go out and ‘overcome’, to become Olympians with a ‘can do’ attitude - so why are disabled people encouraged in these terms? The answer is political and attitudinal. Disabled people have been at the heart of the cuts by the Cameron-led government since the moment the Coalition came to power. Speaking to Channel 4 at the opening of the Paralympics, Prime Minister Cameron said: he Opening Ceremony appeared to develop a colourful theme of transcendence and overcoming. The 2012 Paralympics showcased the talents and efforts of disabled people who had trained and worked to become the sporting élite. Yet TV news headlines, such as ‘people with disabilities overcome their disabilities’, were unhelpful: disabled people cannot ‘overcome’ impairments or disabilities any more than people can overcome their ethnicity. Some things in life remain fixed.

It’s about the inspiration and it will change people’s minds and that’s what matters. It’ll teach people about what they can do, rather than what they can’t do. A very similar line is being used to target disabled people as welfare ‘scroungers’ and ‘fraudsters’ by the government and by companies re-assessing disability support, notably Atos. This is despite the Department for Work and Pensions own identified rates of 0.05% disability benefit fraud; a very low figure, and one that includes ‘administrative errors’. 68


Universal Welfare? full employment; instead, they suppress any hope of full employment. A key, current, way of achieving this is by passing lucrative contracts to private companies within mandatory workfare schemes to stop people being ‘idle’. Effectively, people are prevented from receiving a living wage, or any wage at all, in unscrupulous corporate workfare schemes. Companies have no need to employ individuals when they can get them to work for free - and be paid by the government. What is more, the State is saying: ‘Fuck their aspirations’.

he Paralympic legacy may be to remind all that neither disability, poverty, nor disease will be supported through universal welfare; each is being reconstructed as individual failings. Rightwing individualistic ‘blame the victim’ platitudes masquerading as libertarianism have never been given so much power, or been used so unscrupulously, to promote such a misleading hegemony. So far, the notion of the Paralympian legacy appears nothing more than a form of unsophisticated political rhetoric supporting both the Prime Minister’s urging of a ‘can do’ attitude and the Unum/Atoscontrolled redefinition of disability: all of which contribute to a new politics of the State (and ‘disability’). These new politics are underpinned by corporate messages and private profit. Such an ideology is leading towards new, corporatist, welfare reductions that fool the rich, by appearing cheaper, and crush the poor via the implementation of an American-influenced system of demonisation, brutality, and manufactured scarcity.

On 3 December 2012, the International Day of Disabled People, the Coalition Government announced that those in the work-related activity group of Employment Support Allowance can be mandated to join such a scheme by job centres or else they will lose 70% of their already meagre financial support(1). Such programmes now include disabled people; recovering cancer patients; stoke survivors; those subject to chronic pain; and those with chronic mental health issues. There is a difference between, on the one hand, ill and disabled people’s taking part in these work programmes compared, on the other hand, to those who are deemed ‘normal’: unlike non-disabled people there will be no time limit on how long those who are disabled are compelled to endure this forced labour - a new State aspiration not found in the darkest vaults of contemporary history except that of 1930s Germany.

As is becoming evident, cut after budget cut is designed to limit State support offering the hype that some are ‘living too well’. We must ask what happened to the aspirations of the universal Welfare State to eradicate the five giants: want, disease, squalor, ignorance, and idleness. The Coalition Government has addressed the last aspiration, but not through ensuring



Welfare Insurance?

hat has happened to the post-war agreement on a system to pay for the universal Welfare State to protect the population from draconian regimes and poverty: National Insurance? National Insurance has been slowly but surely socially cleansed from the collective national conscience. The contributions intended to uphold the principle of the universal Welfare State are still being paid, although the younger generation probably does not understand why. This is particularly so because the notion of universal welfare is deftly redacted by complicit media propaganda and, significantly, by corporate profit aspiration disguised as ministerial double-speak. Most remarkably, currently, the poorest pay proportionally more National Insurance, despite the initial agreement in Beveridge’s 1942 Report that all were to pay a flat weekly rate. Workers today pay a marginal rate of 12 per cent on earnings of over £142 up to £817 a week, yet only an additional two per cent on earnings over £817 per week(2). As a true proportion of earnings, the poorest pay most.



The Corporate State and its Paralympian Politics in helping governments globally, and at Westminster, develop a redefinition of a profitable disability(3) based on moving away from any troublesome diagnoses made by GPs or consultants. This model allows its guru’s to claim:

he indefensible tax avoidance of the likes of Starbuck’s has overshadowed the constructed amnesia on National Insurance that has helped to usher in the Corporate Welfare State: an outcome of neoindividualism peddled in the UK by Thatcher and Blair. The ever-increasing corporate takeover of the public services - from hospitals to health care, social services, and education - is becoming synonymous with the increasing need of the middle classes for private insurance for health, education, or for loss of income. Now, everyone needs a back-up plan, even if only those in the middle-income brackets can afford it.

Illness, Sickness and Incapacity are Psychosocial rather than medical problems. More and better healthcare is not the answer.

How convenient. Not only do we redefine disability and illness; we no longer have a need for public funding of more and better healthcare. Equally, for many, it presumes It is not surprise, then, that part of a new we can also ignore the bizarre notion that ‘Paralympian Politics’ of the State comes the presentation of evidence from doctors or in the form of a discredited multinational consultants will have any validity, because insurance giant: Unum. As does the that fact is seemingly dismissed, too. Paralympian legacy, they too concentrate General Practitioners are particularly on a ‘can do’ attitude, but combined with unreliable according to Unum gurus. In a USA-style ultra-individualism: welcome the illuminating ‘Malingering and Illness to the Unum Biopsychosocial Model of Deception’ (2003), from the Conference Disability of the same title, there are scattered Unum Insurance, in its Biopsychosocial references to GPs’ inability correctly to Model of Disability has been involved identify their patients’ ills as they sign them


the thinking, and relationships, of medics and public alike. ‘Medical insight’ has been replaced with a ‘can do’ attitude.

off sick. GPs, some argued, are hoodwinked time after time by a series of issues that apparently render their years of training invalid. Significantly, the noted references are to ‘incapacity’ and not to health or impairment:

The Biopsychosocial Model of Disability was developed because of a perceived escalation in costs of health care, combined with the parallel opportunities of creating new private insurance markets. Unum Insurance recognised this in the 1990s, as did the Westminster governments. Thus, logically, the destabilisation of prevailing medical opinion and definitions, were traded in for notions of ‘capacity’ as the new target. We are now looking at a new set of re-definitions that have crept insidiously and purposely into populist thought: the notion of entitlement has been replaced with the false notion of ‘scrounger’ and applied even to those who have worked hard for years. The use of the term ‘psychosocial’ is interesting, particularly as it is unrelated to the Social Model of Disability. In fact, disabled people’s understanding of the Social Model of Disability has been called into question, as indicated in Unum Guru Mansel Alyward’s bizarre comments that it is “not well understood” by the “fanatical elements” of the disability movement(5).

Various factors influence the way in which the process of judging incapacity takes place. These include patient behaviour, number of patients to be seen in the surgery, and inadequacy of consultation times. As a result, some GPs believe that it is often easier to ‘just sign’ than to engage in a lengthy discussion or examination. Maintaining a good relationship with the patient is also an important consideration and will influence certification practice, as will how well the GP knows the patient as GPs may find it easier to negotiate an alternative to certification with patients they know well ... Doctors also want to be liked by their patients and to be perceived as good or caring. (4) The medical professionalism has been targeted and erased: it has been replaced by notions of ‘capacity’. In the new model all issues become psychosocial, a flaw in



The Social Model of Disability

he Social Model of Disability is a philosophy and a political model that effected change in disabled people’s lives in the UK since the 1980s. This was achieved through the strong activism and tenacity of disabled people, and pro-active user-led organisations that had a strong base in the Social Model of Disability. It was neither based on the ‘Business Model’ nor did it act as any quasi-arm of local authorities providing ‘services’ that fall increasingly under the name of ‘Disabled People’s Organisations’.

Disabled people’s organisations still have have the option of fighting, challenging, the cuts but many such organisations now talk of cuts and redefinitions as being inevitable. While the 1970s and ‘80s saw an expansion of earnings-related benefits, the ‘extra costs of disability’ benefits were recognised as paying too little to those with milder impairments which led to the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) being pit into place. There is consensus that the Social Model and the work of activists helped to raise the rights, equality, and dignity of disabled people. The Unum Biopsychosocial Model, The Social Model focuses on disabled combined with the current Coalition people not as victims of their physiology, Government’s determination to eradicate whether physical, cognitive or otherwise, welfare have destroyed these with their nor as vulnerable, helpless individuals, but notions of capacity and ‘can do’ attitudes: as people who are disabled by attitudes, environments, design, working patterns, • 1996 onwards. Direct Payments for and by those individuals who see disabled personal assistants to aid independent people as ‘unworthy’. The Social Model living through financial support from local offers a way to organise politically against authorities (LAs). Now cut back as LAs limit the principles of social and economic access through punitive eligibility criteria exclusion and oppression in a disablist due to government cuts of up to 40% to LAs’ society. It gives a critique of all that went budgets; before, rooted as it was in individualism and the market. The Social Model articulates • 1988-2015 The Independent Living Fund that disabled people must be at the centre (ILF). Closed to all new applicants since 2010 and set to end in 2015; affecting of voicing their own experiences. 19,000 disabled people, who will see their The Social Model was constructed by support taken over by cash-strapped local disabled people and not by medical experts, authorities that already admit they will not policy makers, social workers, disability reduce care packages and put disabled charities; nor by the new type of corporate people into institutions; disability achieved by organisations through mergers; nor by service providers, • 1992-2015 Disability Living Allowance governments, nor private companies (DLA) to pay for the extra costs of being disabled. DLA replaced by ‘fairer’ Personal profiting from disability(6). Independence Payments (PIPs) after reThe past has proved that disability assessments (to reduce overall costs); organisations were once stronger: in 1998 there was a revolt by back-benchers against • 1995-2008 Incapacity Benefit (changed to New Labour’s proposed welfare reforms that Employment Support Allowance) and, after would cut disability benefits. It was also re-assessment by Atos (originally introduced a time that saw disability groups refusing by the pre-Coalition Labour Government) to engage with the advisory group that according to increasingly narrow criteria. prevented the more severe cuts by Labour(7). This process has been responsible for the 73

Lord Freud would present thirty years later as welfare reform, more and more ‘savings’ would be made from disabled children • 1994 onwards. Access to Work introduced and adults. The notion of disability, illness to help with extra costs of working and, and work capacity has been redefined in in theory, to provide extra support to increasingly brutal ways. those who needed it (both to businesses and individuals). As with all other forms of funding, there have been increasing cut-backs in Access to Work through the tightening of criteria and with higher costs transferred to the employer (meaning that employers are now even less likely to employ a disabled person). deaths and suicides of thousands of people after their Work Capability Assessments);

All those who fought, since the 1960s, for these essential supports for disabled people to enable them fully to participate in society were Social Model advocates who sought greater independence for all disabled people; they wanted to inform the public of the social and economic oppression faced by disabled people. Initially, though, Labour and then the ConDem Coalition worked on removing those gains. As early as in the 1990s, when the Vice-chair of Unum (then Unum Provident) was brought in by the Conservatives to begin work on what 74


Redefining Disability

he centrepiece of this redefinition of ‘disability’ was the Unum-manufactured Biopsychosocial Model of Disability. Governments welcomed it (internal structural reforms were being made behind the scenes), but Unum needed academic credibility to push forward with their assault and move into a new and profitable market-place. Mansel Aylward, ex-Department for Work and Pensions Medical Adviser, began directing the Centre for Psychosocial and Disability Research at Cardiff University in 2004. Unum paid them 1.6 million pounds to provide the ‘right academic slant’ to the centrepiece of the Biopsychosocial Model of Disability(8). The Centre included Alyward, Professor Peter Halligan and Gordon Waddell. One year later Alyward and Waddell produced The Scientific & Conceptual Basis of Incapacity Benefits, published by the Department for Work and Pensions.

of some psychological misconception. Halligan and Alyward explicitly articulated: Psychosocial factors such as beliefs are particularly relevant when one considers the prevalent notions (potential biases) harbored (sic) within medicine and society regarding the causes of illness, expected recovery and medication efficiency.(10) Halligan and Alyward even go as far as to announce misguided assumption on medical advancement: For example it is widely assumed (believed) that medical practices during the 19th - 20th centuries played a decisive role in halting or reducing the major mortalitybased diseases such as whooping cough, scarlet fever, measles, tuberculoses and typhoid fever. However … most of these conditions had already stopped being major killers before effective medical interventions were introduced.(10)

In 2006 The Power of Belief was published through this academic lobby; its publicity Enter Lord Freud in 2012 – to some a failed blurb announces: banker whilst to others, on the political right, a welfare reformer extraordinaire who Over the past two decades, a widening gulf announced to a hall packed full of insurance has emerged between illness presentation and Unum associates that: and the adequacy of traditional biomedical explanations. Currently, the UK is People with physical or mental health experiencing an “epidemic of common conditions do not need to be protected health problems” among people in receipt from work and sometimes maintaining of State incapacity benefits and those who some form of working life can aid recovery. consult their general practitioners.(9) This understanding was first put forward by Aaron Antonovsky. It was expanded This was also part of the seemingly growing upon by Waddell and Burton. And helpfully assault on the supposed inadequacy of formed an evidence base upon which I doctors to diagnose or treat medical issues developed my welfare reform report.(11) ranging from cancer and heart disease to multiple impairments: just some of ‘the Waddle and Burton were, of course, part of common health problems’, according to the academic lobby at the Unum-funded The Power of Belief excerpt. The basis, or Centre for Psychosocial and Disability logical corollary, for such claims appears Research at Cardiff University which to be that if people do not get better and, has since then been ‘helpfully’ forming more importantly, do not go back to work, an ‘academically legitimate evidence then, obviously, doctors are irrelevant. base’ for welfare reform. It is, for many, a Furthermore, individuals are lying because questionable evidence base of which the 75

title of ‘Work:Life UK’, accompanied by an illustration of an empty wallet. Two families are compared, one with a household salary of £65,000 a year who likes coffee at Starbucks; the other is a campaigner for the League Against Cruel Sports (intentional irony, perhaps) who attempts to live on Employment Support Allowance (£15 per day) and find out what it would be like if they did not have a private Unum Insurance ‘back-up plan’ (13).

sky is the limit: following its own logic, this hypothesis claims that there is nothing that disabled, sick or dying people cannot do if only they set their minds to it. Following this line, there is no need to accept that any one of the dying, disabled or sick people need any financial State support, or are entitled to pay-outs from their years of making National Insurance contributions. Although the hypothesis may not be taken to its logical conclusion, for many others becoming aware of current processes, policy and practice, it helps to have a back-up plan through private insurance.

Do not allow the Paralympian legacy to mark an era when we stop talking of entitlements, rights, justice or equality. Rather, let it be Atos originally constructed the Work a time when we do everything to protect Capability Assessment using the underlying those hard-won battles with stronger and Unum methodology. Trials of the initial better measures. Equally, let us expose the test identified nearly 100% of previous ‘can do’ quackery of welfare reform and cuts Incapacity Benefits, or those coming to for what they actually are(14). make a new claim for disability or ill health benefits, as fit for work (whether they be in the work related group, support group or those fit for work). The shift was both pragmatic and diabolical. For example, changing the language from ‘Incapacity Benefit’ to ‘Employment Support Allowance’ inherently produces a different paradigm and a regime shift. It is as clear as the Blair Government’s changing ‘Unemployment Benefit’ to ‘Job Seekers’ Allowance’. All governments have played these kind of games before. Such a game reminds us that Atos were major sponsors of the Olympics and Paralympics while benefiting from tax-free bonuses and donating over £1.5 million to the Conservative Party(12). As the Paralympic legacy rhetoric continues to be used by politicians, Paralympians will be stripped of their Disability Living Allowance, without which, they say, they could not have become Paralympians and the extent of the Olympian corporate takeover of universal welfare will become more obvious. As if to prove the point, an item known as an ‘info ad’ appeared in the Guardian in June 2011 under the 76



isabled People against Cuts (DPAC) was formed to provide campaigning, engage in direct action and provide information on the current political attacks on disabled people. You can see more on and follow on Twitter: @Dis_PPL_ Protest. lease share the information provided herein and follow all of the links as set out below in the Notes to this essay. Feel free to follow DPAC. All errors and omissions are my own.



(2) for#incoming-319029 (3) (4) Baron, C., and Poole, J., 2003, Organizations and Illness Deception amongst Employees in Malingering and Illness Deception, P248 Oxford University Press (5) (6) (7) Burchardt, T. , 1999, The Evolution of Disability Benefits in the UK: Reweighing the Basket, Centre for the Analysis of Social Exclusion (LSE), London (8) h t t p : / / w w w . g u a r d i a n . c o . u k / c o m m e n t i s f r e e / 2 0 0 8 / m a r / 1 7 / epluribusunum?CMP=twt_gu (9) (10) Halligan, P., and Alyward, M., 2006, Locating Illness and Disability within a Social Context in The Power of Belief: Psychosocial Influences in Illness, Disability and Medicine, Oxford University Press, New York (11) (12) (13) (14)





































































Paul A. Darke



orn and grown up in Camberley in Surrey, Paul Darke works and travels throughout Europe and elsewhere. As an artist he brings new insights and exciting concepts to art forms that challenge conventional views of both art and society - particularly, but not exclusively, from a ‘disabled’ perspective. Dr Paul A. Darke’s official website is

culture. He is the originator of Normality Theory; developed soon after Dr Darke gained his Ph.D. from the University of Warwick through examining disability and its cultural specificities and impact (under the supervision of Professor Richard Dyer).

Dr Darke is an internationally respected artist, academic, writer and cultural critic who has created, written and theorised extensively around the issue of identity and

As Jim Butcher stated: ‘It is not enough to stand up and fight darkness. You have to stand apart from it, too. You’ve got to be different from it’.

Now based in Wolverhampton in the heart of the UK Dr Darke has worked within the Disability Arts scene for nearly twenty Dr Paul A. Darke is the product of a number years and passionately believes in the of ‘Special Residential’ schools; this principles and practices of Disability Art experience has made him a strong advocate as a vibrant counter-culture, despite its of inclusive education that liberates all cultural perdition in the face of increasingly children from the dogma of the illusions of narrowing views of what is acceptable or a social virtue. normality.

Walker Darke



alker Darke is a young photographer from Wolverhampton who, along with Paul Darke, attended every day of the 2012 Paralympics with backstage accreditation that ensured unlimited access to the experience of the Paralympics in London: a unique experience few artists had the opportunity to take, and one for which he is thankful to Arts Council England and Outside Centre / Digital Disability.

the ‘disabled world’ of the Paralympics first hand with a view to continuing his journey into photography and all it has to offer. Although the two weeks at the Paralympics were an exceptionally arduous piece of work both physically and emotionally, Walker found it to be an equally challenging and intellectually fascinating artistic project.

Walker Darke is looking forward to the Walker has been taking photographs since hope of a similar opportunity for Rio 2016 he was a small child, capturing stills of life to examine and capture another culture from events and daily life scenarios. The rise and place. in social media, and the comfort and ease with which younger people use and engage with it, has been a key driver for Walker’s art practice and exhibition. This opportunity offered an exciting chance to extend and develop his practice while also enabling him as a non-disabled person to capture

Marie Claire Darke



arie Claire Darke is a Wolverhampton- elected City Councillor in Wolverhampton. based artist and photographer who was born in Stratford Upon Avon A strong advocate of the potential of arts for enlightenment she feels that her own and grew up in Woking in Surrey. work is about the exploration of ideas and Marie Claire has been creating art all images using a range of media, styles and her life. Her photographic work in this formats - from paint to digital to archive publication was created with the aim of manipulation - in order to ‘capture memory’ ‘capturing the streets of London as part as a lived and easily forgotten experience’ of of the overall essence of the Paralympics time and place. Always seeking to explore - a people’s artistic expression captured society through its tableaux Claire Darke’s in a brief moment of time soon forgotten’. photography investigates the past as much Marie Claire Darke is currently serving as an as it does the present.

Debbie Jolly



ebbie Jolly was born in the East End of London and lives in the Midlands. She is an activist, freelance disabled researcher, and sociologist working in disability research, policy, and independent living. She is an advocate of independent living and rights for all disabled people. As co-Founder of Disabled People against Cuts (DPAC) in the UK, she believes that more grass-root campaigns are needed to demand change and engage in rights arguments (developing our own solutions to our imposed social and economic inequalities) led by grass-roots disabled

people, free from Government ties. Debbie has worked with universities, local authorities, and organisations of disabled people at local, national and European levels; she has contributed to international research and presented key papers on Independent Living. Currently a board member of the ENIL, and a member of the NUJ, she has written for the LSE Politics and Policy Blog,, and Red Pepper. Debbie is on the editorial board of the international academic journal Disability and Society.

Ann Whitehurst



nn Whitehurst is based in the north of England where she grew up and has worked extensively in the arts as a painter, live artist and filmmaker for over half a century. Ann Whitehurst particularly seeks to adapt ideas and diversity. Ann states that: ‘I am different, so difference is a joy, a pride and a celebration’.

culturally enabled). Cultural Capital is, for Ann, the essential right of all human beings; a right routinely denied to so many, particularly to disabled women. Ann’s work seeks to explore, challenge and change this insidious reality.

Disabled people, such as Ann herself, are people of difference. Disability is a political Ann Whitehurst is a campaigning artist and and cultural issue for society. Without the activist who often focuses on the social experience and inclusion of people who construction of difference, particularly of really exemplify difference in every aspect working class women and disabled people. of life, then the world will remain stifled: a Ann’s work is not about social stereotyping, planet of failure. as women and disabled people are in fact considered, constructed and treated as Ann Whitehurst co-founded Outside Centre archetypes and metaphors. Ann feels that in 1999 in order to challenge the very the hegemony of the archetypes of gender existence of ‘the norm’, confronting the and difference are primary elements, key conforming non-disabled and their limited, issues, as to why women and disabled limiting, understanding of life, politics and people never attain ‘personness’ among culture. the non-archetyped (i.e., the socially and

Training to Be Me Part II

by Ann Whitehurst


This original exploration of the experience of the Paralympics in 2012, not only in the stadiums but also in the ideas and actions of others across England, offers an insight in to the creative thoughts and feelings of a number of artists with access to the heart of the Paralympics. Photography by Paul A. Darke, Marie Claire Darke and Walker Darke predominates, with an enlightening essay by the Disability Rights theorist Debbie Jolly about the controversy of Atos’ involvement both in the Paralympics and in the daily lives of disabled people on behalf of the Government. Also included is the Live Art piece on DVD, Training to Be Me II, by the leading Disability Arts practitioner Ann Whitehurst; an insightful addition that adds a whole new interpretation of training, sport and ‘The Paralympic Games’.

ISBN 978 0 9565348 9 7