Discussing issues in Physical Health & Cognitive Development

Behind the reverse of accesss

By Hayley Tonge, December 2013

Hayley spent 14 months in hospital after being knocked down by a joyrider in January 2006, nearly three months of which were in a coma. She received a first in BA (Hons) Visual Arts in 2013 after finding that her disability made her re-evaluate her approach to art.

My name is Hayley Tonge, I was involved in a road traffic accident when I was a teenager, and was left with physical disabilities and a brain injury. At times, I have had problems with confidence, how I feel about myself, physical pain, and trust. However, I no longer need a psychologist, and have developed a strong sense of who I am and what I want from life.

I am a disabled artist and my work is primarily created from found materials, (discarded wood.) I am able to find organic beauty in the used materials, bringing them to life. This has become an integral part of my passion for creating art. I lost my ability to draw and paint but I gained the ability to create in other ways. As an artist my interaction with materials and space is entirely dictated through the progression and routine of my physical disability and daily life.

More recently this desire to show the complexity and frustration of being a wheelchair user, has opened up to building/creating installations, that review spaces and interactions between the living human body and the spaces surrounding it. I was reconfiguring access, as a metaphor for the lack of access and restrictions that I faced in my life. For example, this structure is easy for me to pass through in my wheelchair, but can be a struggle for people who are not in a wheelchair.

I have made various forms of maquettes, (small) sculptures. These were at a time when my work focused on doors. The idea that initiated this theme was that many doorways and things in my life, seemed to be closed, and other domains were inaccessible. My work developed and progressed from this concept, to open doors. This in turn opened up many possibilities.

About the PhysCogBlog

Every two months the Physical Health & Cognitive Development strand team invites someone to compose a short blog, in which the author discusses an issue which is part of their current thinking relating to physical health and / or cognitive development.

All comments and views expressed here are that of the author, and not necessarily of Lancaster University DClinPsy Programme.

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