“I’m a performer and a musician, music creator and music director as well as a workshop leader. This is the first time I have worked with a Graeae project. Graeae has given me the opportunity for me to express myself with this show, which is going to be a very exciting adventure because I’ve never expressed myself in this way before.”

Jez Colborne


“I created a life shirt or a shirt of Jez’s life instead of a two dimensional illustration. I decided to make the work that he could wear… I drew in black line using fabric paints incorporating the elements and motifs that he uses.”

Chris Gilvan-Cartwright




“I perform as a stand-up comedian. The comedy started a long time ago about 1988 when there was an event called The Workhouse which was run by what was then London Disability Arts Forum; they were social events with performance as part of it and I used that medium to have a go at doing some stand-up, because I had seen other people doing stand-up and I thought: ‘I can do better than this!’... I’ve known Graeae more or less since its inception.

Barbara Lisicki


“Barbara is involved in Direct Action – going out on the street protesting. We discussed the things you would take along to these protests. The piece of work I created is using the visual language that would normally be associated with instruction manuals. I have taken all the elements of Barbara with various items she uses and exploded them all out, individual objects floating in space with a dotted line which shows you how all these things fit together. ”



Featuring SEAN BURN


“I don’t just write theatre, I write poetry, I write prose, I make poetry t-shirts, poetry posters, poetry films, soundscapes and spoken word, different things around disability. I live with long term mental ill health. I applied for the first two Write to Play schemes with Graeae and was selected for that on the basis, I think, that I was alienated and excluded from the community here in the North East, so they act as some kind of family I suppose, that’s why I’m involved in Graeae and specifically with the Write to Play scheme.”

Sean Burn


“I listened to Sean’s poetry which I really liked and chose one poem to illustrate – ‘Cello Rain Number 12’. It struck a chord. It was a seamless process; the approach I took was to get across the strength of the poem in the image… the poem actually lead the image.”

Mick Marston




“I am a playwright and profoundly dyspraxic. The relationship between my playwriting and my dyspraxia is interconnected. It was only when my dyspraxia was diagnosed at the age of 29 that I had the confidence to begin my playwriting journey – a journey which has been exciting, liberating, and of which Graeae has been an integral part. I was lucky enough to be selected for Graeae’s Write to Play writer attachment scheme in 2014 – an amazing opportunity that gave me a courage to be open about my disability... Graeae is about openness, truth and courage.”

Nicola Werenowska


“This sentence from Nicola’s profile stood out and was the starting point for our image: ‘The allure of the power of words, the desire to create, to step out into your own world into another.’ We like the idea that the image has a powerful force to it. The globe like shape can grow and become stronger. However, it also has a fragile feeling and can disperse; the overall shape is suggestive of another world or a different place.”

Kai and Sunny




“I tend to call myself a creative practitioner... so I write and I perform as a disabled artist, mainly theatre, but over the last few years I’ve taken to writing my own stuff – and I’m very into puppetry... I’ve been involved with Graeae since they did their first professional training course back in the autumn of 1999... I did actually write a short play that toured in schools for Graeae a few years back.”

Sophie Partridge


“I found particularly interesting one of Sophie’s plays which is called Song of Semmersuaq which she wrote and performed using puppets. I was immediately fascinated and wanted to use bits from this in my illustration.”

Tatiana Boyko


Animated by DOG AND RABBIT


“I’m an artist and have been a patron of Graeae since the very beginning, alongside Ian Dury and Nabil Shaban. I have done an image of Graeae which is the three ladies that share between them one eye and one tooth. When I researched what they looked like they were rather ugly so I tried to make them as ugly as possible… The image includes Perseus who has stolen the eye and the tooth and seems to be offering it back to them and taunting and teasing them. What I have done with the image is show the resourcefulness of the three women who manage to get by, by sharing. This is what Graeae is all about and what disability is all about… this is the whole ethos of Graeae.”

Sir Peter Blake


“The work will come to life using a few techniques that we’ve developed over the years, and one is called displacement map, where you get a flat image and build up the topography... so you do bright spots for the things that protrude, like the nose, which would be closer... it brings a flat image to life – makes it 3D almost.’’

Andrew Kelleher, Dog and Rabbit

Narrated by Nabil Shaban

Written by Sean Burn




“I am an actor, I’m also a writer. I write plays and novels, I write documentaries, some of which have won awards. I’m also a film maker. I use a wheelchair - supposedly I’m disabled, at least that’s how the world labels me. What’s my connection with Graeae? Well I created it actually in 1980 with the help of Richard Tomlinson, he and I were co-founders of Graeae. We created Graeae because there wasn’t any other opportunity for disabled people who wanted to be actors. I’m proud to say Graeae has continued and does in fact provide many hundreds of disabled with the opportunities to perform on stage.”

Nabil Shaban


“I make all my illustrations in the form of wood engravings with a wood block print making technique where you cut the image into a piece of end grain wood and you then print it onto the paper. For Nabil, I composed a drawing with reference to the stage, film, light and projection and the Viking Sagas. It is quite a decorative image where all the elements of the picture are clearly drawn.”

Jonathan Gibbs




“I am an actress, I’ve worked in TV and theatre, and some film... I’ve been working with Graeae over the past five years and my first production was Reasons to be Cheerful... Graeae has perhaps been the biggest influence on my life as a disabled performer... it was the first performance where I started to see myself as a disabled actor in the industry and for myself.”

Nadia Albina


“I discussed some of her most favourite performances, what her background was. I did a portrait of Nadia as Blanche DuBois from A Streetcar Named Desire because that was one her favourite and most key icon roles that she felt stood out to her in her history as a performer. In the robe there are a variety of quotes and imagery that tie in with Nadia’s background.”

Susan Burghart




“I’m a London girl who’s worked in the capital for over 20 years. All my employment has been concentrated around the arts generally, but predominantly in the world of theatre and dance. As an artistic junky and someone with a physical disability my path happily crossed with Graeae back in the 90s and the relationship continues to this day. I became aware of Graeae during my college days... I was young and knew the joys of discrimination... Graeae is, quite frankly, bloody brilliant...That disabled college kid from years ago is now triumphantly punching the air.”

Sarah Howard


“I wanted to be true to the essence of the person, Sarah was very vivacious and full of energy. The essence I got from her was one of vitality and energy; I wanted a very positive hopeful image that I felt summed her up. The main body is a stylised outline of a hand and an arm to symbolise victory.”

Lesley Buckingham




“I am an actor, a director, a writer, I work in theatre. I’ve been a writer for about 20 years, over the years I’ve done a lot of work with Graeae. The first time I got involved with Graeae was in the mid-90s; I was in my first play as an actor. I really enjoyed it and Graeae gave me my route into the arts. I moved through the arts on my radar, I met Graeae, I met a lot of disabled people like me and it was really amazing... they are an amazing company.”

Jamie Beddard


“I wanted to have some fun and capture the different sides of Jamie’s personality... I didn’t want it to be a piece that you would walk past. A sci-fi torture chamber is the closest summation of what it is.”

Max Ellis




“I’m originally from Sligo in the west of Ireland and a member of the Irish Traveller community. Currently I live in Dublin. Feminism and anti-racist agendas inform my activism and my activism informs my theatre writing... Mostly I write, occasionally I perform and frequently I visit. Writing is my main art form...peeling by Kate Reilly and Graeae Theatre Company came to Dublin and I was invited to the opening night... since then Graeae have become a beacon for me and my writing... performing makes it easy to identify with their ethos.”

Rosaleen McDonagh


“I felt the Traveller link was really important in her story and how she wanted to spread her word. Mine was about the importance of a journey within the importance of a story as well. I included different landmarks from her life... within the image I included all of those influences as well as her.”

Rose Blake




“I’m a playwright working in theatre, radio and television. I first came into contact with Graeae through the inaugural year of the Write to Play programme. This led to me completing the first draft of my play about heart transplants, and Graeae are further helping me to develop the piece through research and development. The opportunities provided by Write to Play have given me the confidence to pursue a freelance career fulltime. Whenever you’re in their extraordinary building, you feel like you are part of a family.”

Tom Wentworth


“The work is a photograph of a rather fine room with a fireplace on the right hand side. A figurine of a nude lady in dark bronze makes it all quite mystical. I painted this chap in a fine overcoat and fine hat, then I painted this rather nice turnip on the floor so you get an enigmatic, open to interpretation image of this turnip. You smile… you stand there and put your hand to your chin and think… what the devil is going on there? But of course it doesn’t matter as life is full of unanswered questions.”

David Holmes




“I am a performer and mainly focus on theatre. I have worked with Graeae since 2003; it has been a long and fruitful collaboration. Graeae are a part of me… they really open doors for me and provide me with lots of opportunities to raise my profile, to perform in front of a wider audience, to develop my skills when there were no such opportunities in the mainstream.”

David Ellington


“I created the work incorporating the elegance of sign language. The hands are in motion and much bigger than the figures on the sway poles that makes it feel quite surreal. I drew everything in white and used a limited pallet in the work like a screen print and the words in colours of the rainbow to bring out David’s character.”

Anna Higgie


Featuring JOHN KELLY


“I’m a vocalist and performer. I’ve been working with Graeae for about seven years now. I started off as lead vocalist for Reasons to be Cheerful and I still do that to this day. I also worked with Graeae and a number of other production companies on The Threepenny Opera where I was the narrator. I was also the lead vocalist in the Paralympics Opening Ceremony singing Spasticus Autisticus with the rest of the Reasons bunch.


Simon and I explored our music interest, in particular the lyrics of Ian Dury. The song that resonated with us was What a Waste because in a sense that’s what’s going on, cutting away the Independent Living Fund and Access to Work is just wasting this potential that’s just untapped.”

John Kelly


“I interpreted the ILFs withdrawal of funding as literally taking away a lifeline... I wanted the image to have a pretty no messing impact... giving the impression that all has been snatched away... overall it’s pretty dark and desolate.”

Simon Spilsbury




“I am the current Chair of the Graeae Theatre Company Board of Trustees, so I’ve been part of the Graeae story for the last 6 years. My own creativity is expressed through photography. I actually specialise in food photography, but have really enjoyed being able to take my camera along to some of the Graeae events and productions. One of my favourite photos has to be the moment when I caught a small girl being held up by her father to gingerly touch the huge fingers of the Iron Man – for me it shows a lot of what Graeae is about... I remember being completely captivated by an early production.”

Dawn Langley


“I wanted to create a collage of different fragments - images, photographs, type, paint, layered pieces of paper to get a sense of Dawn’s life as well as nature and theatre. It’s quite vibrant - oranges, pinks and cream - the photographs are very abstract and I used fragments of Braille symbols.”

Jackie Parsons




“I’m an actor and Deaf artist, and I do a lot of theatre work and sometimes short films. Also I do a lot of workshops for young people. I incorporate a lot of signing and speaking in my roles... I’ve been working with Graeae for about 5 years now... Graeae has been uplifting for me – a fantastic opportunity... I’ve found a new identity since then and I really have been made more proud of who I am.”

Stephen Collins


“The work is based on a classical theatre poster, but with a modern approach to it... I tried to put all his Stephen’s impressive work into a kind of collage with this illustration... I put him in the centre so he is the hero of the piece.”

Martin Haake




“I am a dancer, teacher, actress, coordinator of a dance project and I create concept art in a socially inclusive process. I am a determined person in what I do. I want to make history in the world in this wheelchair. When I met Graeae I developed an interest in the theatre and I did not know that it could improve my performance... It was the beginning of a new breakthrough in my career and I could share this experience with others at Graeae.”

Viviane Macedo


“I started by isolating the figures and playing with different colour palettes and by adding dimension and texture with repeat patterns. The work uses bright almost dayglow-like colours along with dual tones. The lines are curvilinear to communicate the movement and flow of the dance. The figures are made up of small repeat patterns which creates an abstract rather than complete interpretation of the image.”

Mario Wagner




“I’m a short and furry Londoner, generally a little shabby around the edges. I’m trans, queer and disabled and though those things have very much shaped my life, they aren’t necessary things I explore explicitly in my work. I’m a printmaker and calligrapher, and general craft magpie. I worked with Graeae for nearly six years as their access assistant helping make sure everything was as accessible as possible, but recently left to develop my artistic practice. Being part of Graeae’s work was brilliant.”

Robin Bray Hurren


“We took into consideration that Robin had a relationship with letters and words... Letter forms and type design are things that we’ve always been interested in – and in many ways it was where we started... we took predominantly static forms and turned them into something we thought of as the organic process.”

Dust (Patrick Walker)


Original Screenprints are available of this piece, please contact Central Illustration.


Featuring TED EVANS


“I’m a filmmaker and I’m Deaf. I mostly make short promotional or corporate films but I also write and direct dramas. My career really began when I wound up making a short documentary for Graeae. They’ve been so much more than a client for me – I’ve met some amazing people and the projects that have come out of the connections have been great, things like the Paralympic Opening Ceremony where I co-directed and co-wrote the opening film Look Up.”

Ted Evans


“Working with Ted Evans was fascinating; he’s a great filmmaker. His film the The End is a really interesting science fiction film about the decline of Deaf culture… It is a personal view of Deaf culture and a Deaf community and society’s treatment of it. Ted explained his struggle was more as an artist than a Deaf person. I wanted to represent the idea that we all use our struggles, burdens and obstacles as artists. We wanted to play with the idea of light and dark and create an image of light breaking through darkness, represented by lens flares.”

Richard Wilkinson




“I am a theatre maker, director and have a love for theatre. I have always said being a disabled actor I was always going to challenge people’s perceptions simply by just walking on stage so I might as well have some fun with that. I first worked for Graeae back in 1997 and have worked on and off as a freelance artist, as a performer, facilitator, trainer and director ever since. Without Graeae I would have not experienced some of my best memories, some of my best work and met some of the best people or laughed as hard as I ever have done.”

Daryl Beeton


“I was impressed by his circus and performance work showing his agility, elegance and strength. The sway pole as he flew through the air gave him immense power. I based the work on the circus of old… the American carnie and freak-show posters. I wanted to turn this message on its head, making it a more positive 21st Century message. Daryl creates a beauty in what he does.”

Tim Marrs




“I’m a visual artist, but also a performance artist and I’ve always been very interested in theatre. Before I became a fine artist I did a huge amount of theatre performances. I’ve had a very long standing friendship with Jenny Sealey and I’ve always supported all of Graeae’s work...Graeae have very much been a company that has inspired my work.”

Rachel Gadsden


“The piece I created is called ‘Fragility’ and it is inspired by the three main topics Rachel conveys in her work: fragility, survival and hope. The background is made up of these words like wallpaper repeating across the back of the piece. I was also inspired by a piece that Rachel had made in a ‘painter-ly’ style and replicated this in my papercut ridged style. It is very scratchy and has a lot of movement.”

Julene Harrison




“I am an actor, a circus performer, a singer and I’ve been working with Graeae since 2003, Bent was my first play with Graeae. I’ve been involved in lots of plays including Whiter than Snow and I recently did The Threepenny Opera. I’ve done many circus workshops, worked with Jenny Sealey on the Opening of the Paralympics ceremony. I’ve participated in writing, accessibility and drama workshops.”

Milton Lopes


“With this work, the main thing I’ve done is made sure that everything that Milton holds dear to him shows through. Rather than create a flat piece of design, I wanted to do at bit more than that. I wanted to create a talking point... I divided the page into a grid and within each grid there’s a part of something that Milton loves. On first glance it’s kind of cryptic... hopefully that will create a talking point and Milton can expand on it.”

Jonny Wan




“I am a playwright and dramaturg widely known for wearing a lot of rainbow things. Graeae were the first professional company I worked for when I was 24. I started going in and having chats with Carissa who worked in the literary department and this progressed to observing rehearsals and eventually being employed as a dramaturg, most recently completing year one of Write to Play and coming back to work on Ensemble.”

Amy Bethan Evans


“I created the work from a black and white eye chart, I wanted to add a bit more in and changed the letters to read something… a short description of Amy. I also included a portrait of Amy next to the eye chart in a coloured rainbow scarf.”

Harriet Russell




“I have been an artist now for well over 20 years. I started my career in dance, and performed in theatre and TV and some small film roles. I first worked with Graeae in 2000 and was so grateful for the opportunity to have my first chance at acting. I had always known that Graeae gave opportunities to disabled artists and thanks to them it has meant I have been able to try other things.”

David Toole


“My work is usually very graphic; I use the shape and the actual form. My work often plays up against the white paper and the colouring spaces and the empty spaces. I often use black ink combined with a spot colour or two... I use very strong full colours so it would be very yellow or bright red.”

Ulla Puggaard




“I’m a textile artist and designer as well as a freelance trainer. I’m Deaf. Although I’ve never worked with Graeae, I’m always amazed by the work they produce. It’s really positive to see how Deaf and disabled artists are represented across all levels of the organisation and I’m especially in awe of its leadership under Jenny Sealey. She is a leading role model and a great example of what individuals can achieve. The process has made me stop and think about the things I’ve achieved as a Deaf artist.”

Omeima Mudawi Rowlings


“I decided to concentrate on what Omeima had talked to me about, her life namely the importance of multiculturalism and what that means to her. I got a real sense of energy working with Omeima. The image can be read simply as an ‘O’ - that is fine… there are a couple of other layers I wanted to add to the image that can be seen as a burst of creativity - an eye as in an iris and these are all things I felt relevant to Omeima. I decided I could highlight Omeima’s multicultural heritage using design elements.”

Ray Smith




“I am a singer-songwriter from ‘Heart n Soul’. Graeae means to me a voice that people can hear and how I got involved with Graeae was through ‘Heart n Soul’ and through the Paralympics. The Paralympics really opened up the door for people with disabilities and they saw Graeae, they saw me and they saw people with disabilities as well.”

Lizzie Emeh


“The first thing I noticed when I met Lizzie Emeh was her amazing big hair tied up in a big scarf. The work is a portrait in bright red and blue that reflected the fun day I spent with her. We played a record called Ranting and Raving that had the words jibber jabber, what is everyday life if it is not full of jibber jabber… The words were woven into her hair.”

Paul Oakley




“I’m a freelance actor, writer and director, and the artistic director of Birds of Paradise Theatre Company in Glasgow and Fittings Multimedia Arts Liverpool. As a wheelchair user, I started off my artistic life as a musician and then moved into theatre. I’ve been involved with Graeae for many years – in fact I was in Jenny’s first show with the company...since then I’ve been in a few shows including Reasons to be Cheerful and The Threepenny Opera...Graeae was personally a great opportunity to take on some wonderful theatrical roles on major stages in the UK and subsequently internationally...they’ve pushed at the barriers for Deaf and disabled performers working in theatre.”

Garry Robson


“In my artwork I tried to do a portrait of Garry Robson’s character in The Last Freak Show. He’s quite a flamboyant, short character dressed as a woman, with a beard... I show him very strong and staring into the viewer’s eyes... quite in your face. When you first look at it, it looks right back as you.”

Jakob Hinrichs




“I am a spoken word artist, a manager of artists and a mix engineer as well. My art forms are music, poetry and drama and that is where I love to be. It started way back when I was 15: Graeae did a workshop at Mountview and it was amazing, it was great to see other people with disabilities that want to be part of the action as well. Years later, when the Paralympics happened I was part of a small group of people who did a documentary about the opening ceremony and I saw Jenny who I hadn’t seen for years and then there was an opening for board members so I applied and I got it and here I am today!”

Jacqui Adeniji-Williams


“Initially I thought I would be working with some of her poetry to create the piece – this didn’t happen in the end. There were elements of Jacqui’s story of her life and growing up that made more of an impact on me. It is a little bit story-like.”

Sarah J Coleman


Featuring JO VERRENT


“I’m the senior producer for Unlimited which is a commissions programme for Deaf and disabled artists. I’ve worked as an artist, in fact in one of my first attempts at working in the arts world I wrote a play for Graeae which was a really interesting opportunity back in the day for a young disabled person to get involved in and engage with the arts. My history with Graeae - they’ve just been fundamental to the development of disability arts sector in the UK, but also to my confidence and my place within it. I think this project is amazing, it’s been a real opportunity for me to be seen in a different way.”

Jo Verrent


“I took it back down to basics and went with the original idea of everything being in a lair... We had the theatre lair at the bottom which is her base where she comes from... I was able to get some feathers and leaves in there to bring it back to nature but effectively. I’m a simple illustrator, it was an interview and it was about a person so that was my focus. About Jo the person and what makes her tick.”

Kate Miller




“I am the Associate Director of Graeae Theatre Company. I am a theatre-maker – I’ve been a theatre-maker for about 16 years I would say, in different guises. I’ve been an actor, I’m currently a director, but I’ve done a lot of work in theatre in education and young people’s theatre. My background is making theatre accessible for people who wouldn’t necessary think theatre is accessible or theatre is for them.. .I joined Graeae in 1999 as part of an actor training course... For me Graeae is home – that’s what Graeae means to me.”

Amit Sharma


“Amit came over as a very warm and modest person and he was fully dedicated to his art and realising the story that we had together. My interpretation was quite simple, it came from a conversation we had together and he spoke about using elements to frame scenes and I found that very interesting and that’s really what my take stems from and what I was finally inspired by.”

Edward McGowan




“I’m very passionate about dance, because I see myself as a unique dancer and I don’t want to be treated differently because sometimes I take a long time to progress and develop a dance. I am a senior member of Stopgap... At the Edinburgh Fringe when we performed it was a great experience because it is something I’ve always found very interesting...I feel it is a good way to learn and to follow your dreams.”

Chris Pavia


“I’ve done a portrait of Chris mixed in with clues as to what he does as a choreographer. I’ve kept it very simple and I thought he’d come over as a very strong personality... I was trying to evoke the inspiration that he put over... The colours are quite muted... they were just the colours I wanted to use for the subject matter... Around the portrait I’ve introduced different dancers – to give it a flavour.”

Brian Grimwood




“I’m a freelance performer working in theatre, dance and aerial performance. I first became aware of Graeae in 2009 when I moved to London. I continued to follow their work and in 2012 I had the chance to perform with them for the Paralympic Opening Ceremony. Prior to this I had been working in arts management, but my passion was to perform; the Paralympics gave me the platform to finally achieve this. I have since worked with Graeae on many different projects and continue to be inspired by their work.”

Tiiu Mortley


“I tried to capture Tiiu’s determination throughout her life by showing her looking focused and strong in an aerial pose. The spotlights I’ve used represent her motivation to perform. The main central light is used to highlight her love of aerial performance and the spotlights around her three other passions which are singing, dancing and acting.”

Kerry Hyndman




“I’m a performer...I’m also a trained aerialist, through Graeae, and a sway pole performer. I’ve worked with Graeae on a few occasions. such as the Paralympic Opening Ceremony. Graeae has shown me a different world and taught me to accept my disability and gave me huge confidence within myself. I’ve since gone on to work on The Limbless Knight with Graeae, and Belonging, which toured Brazil and London, which was a huge achievement for me. I’ve learnt skills which I thought (as a double amputee) was near impossible.”

Stephen Bunce


“When creating the image, I had Stephen in mind as well as the cuts to the Independent Living Fund. The image is of a large male figure walking forward. The background is grey and the figure blue. Then a grey paint stroke cuts across the legs leaving a gap between knees and feet. The gaps are just losing something here; I was thinking mobility, freedom, which is one of the impacts of losing the Independent Living Fund. Then in this gap I have written #SaveILF in big bold black lettering.”

Nishant Choksi




“I’ve always been involved in theatre and collaborating alongside disabled artists, children and young people. I live everyday believing that young people should rule the world. I’m the Creative Learning Director at Graeae and my passion as a drama practitioner and creative programmer is in developing artistic and inclusive collaborations. Graeae has been home to me for almost six years now so that’s six years of dancing out of bed in the morning and knowing I’m going to spend the day with generous, gorgeous people, learn from brilliant artists and be absorbed by the energy and commitment of the company. I first discovered Graeae in my research back in Australia and I remember being blown away initially by their artistic ambitions and aesthetic qualities of their productions. Graeae saved me and made me in a lot of ways as a disabled creative.”

Jodi Alissa Bickerton


“I decided to do a very abstract interpretation... it has quite low key colours. I think of it as urban colours rather than outside colours with simple rectangles and textured shapes.”

Clare Melinsky