Sunday, 29 September 2013

an account of wheelchair use!

I sometimes post quite homely things on this this blog, and i have just received permission from my nephew to post his recent facebook status on our blog. I asked him as it is so relevant to all we have been highlighting re Access and how that affects all of us.(in the remappingstives project)
He had only been in San Fancisco a few weeks (where he is for a year on his degree course,) when he broke his knee long boarding, so a normally fit active 20 year old suddenly finds himself in pain and difficulty. He had an operation on his knee, and has sent me an Xray showing 3 huge screw like pins in it!!!
Something I would like to point out, and his account illustrates is that we often expect people struggling with mobility issues to be pleasant even jolly, (well i do believe we all should try to be pleasant to each other) but they are often in severe pain or discomfort, which is part of the unseen difficulties many people struggle with!

"So yesterday I suffered from a bout of what I've since termed immobility rage. Rather amusing to me now, but only with the benefit of hindsight. Let me set the scene. Went from my house to uni which is a pretty daunting task while wheelchair bound, especially with an incredibly long limb sticking out straight out in front, arrived tired and slightly ....... off. Wheeled myself down through quite a steep campus, emerged at the main quad, the center of the everything, and took one of the many paths meandering down across the grass. Neglecting to remember gloves or anything longsleeved, was quickly overcome by the heat generated on my hands whilst trying to break, so, reacting to the burning sensation, i released some of my grip on the wheels, upon which I rapidly gained speed down a particularly steep patch, bouncing along this very narrow path and narrowly missing multiple pedestrians. Unfortunately I was unable to avoid a large (but thankfully soft) bush. I glanced sheepishly around to see if anyone had noticed and saw at least 5 people literally running towards me looking deeply concerned. Embarrassed but unscathed I made my way gently to the pharmacy which was the purpose of my visit, to obtain some post-op painkillers. The reason I had to travel all the way to campus and not just any pharmacy is that the medical insurance only covers drugs brought at the uni pharmacy. I handed my prescription to the pharmacist expecting at the worst for them to be out of stock and for him to have to order them in. Instead I was told they didn't have a licence to stock opiates that high on the controlled substance list so they would never stock them. I must add that at this time i was fresh out of my backless gown and was 12 hours into coming down from a 5 day pharmaceutically induced high. I snapped. A torrent of rage, meant for the insurance, misdirected at the pharmacist, came forth and eventually was topped off with my calling the poor man a !...... I then wheeled off in a huff. Not my proudest moment."

St Ives article

"caught Shallal briefly at St. Ives!  Colourful, moving, fun, thought-provoking. "

"Visitors to St Ives last Friday were amazed to see a noisy, colourful procession, where Kerry, who usually uses a wheelchair, was ‘queen for a day’ and was carried around St Ives in a handmade Sedan Chair. This performance by Shallal Dance Theatre was devised as part of the Remapping St Ives Project, in order to highlight the problems that many people have in getting around our towns, in a light-hearted and engaging way. The performance began with ‘queen’ Kerry ‘testing a harbour slipway for wheelchair access’ with the support of stunt and rigging specialist David Greeves. Kerry performed the nail-biting stunt, pulling herself up the slipway, using climbing equipment, with the support of colourful Shallal performers and cheering on lookers. Shallal performers then transported Kerry around the town, stopping to make small dance and theatre performances on the way to St Ives town hall to celebrate the opening of the new disabled access ramp to the Visitor Information Centre. Trevor, 72, also made an ascent of Mount Zion, a steep cobbled street which is particularly challenging for those with mobility impairments, with the support of three other performers and a climbing rope!
Andy Shepherd, Chair of the St Ives September Festival was enthusiastic about the performance; “The Remapping St Ives Project, involving Shallal Dance Theatre, has been fantastic. It has brought life and music and laughter and colour to the streets of St Ives. We love this in the festival…..We have been amazed how people’s eyes have been opened to everyday things that we more or less able-bodied people take for granted….Entertaining and educational, its been fantastic.”
Feedback and ideas for changes in the town were taken, as part of the performance, by local artist Karen Foss; inviting people to tie their ideas and suggestions to her costume! All feedback from the project and initial survey will be fed into the town plan, hoping to encourage the town to continue with improvements such as the new ramp at the Town Hall. As St Ives Councillor, Andrew Mitchell point out, “The impact isn’t going to be immediate…just bring it to people’s attention…you just need to build momentum up and this is a good start”.

More information at"

Photo credit: Mark Noalls
This project was funded by Awards for All, with the support of Feast, Cornwall Community Foundation and St Ives Town Council.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Shallal 2 at Scratch Night, The Performance Centre.7.30pm Wednesday, 7th Oct

Shallal 2

 I'm waiting to post lots of other information and photos, but this can come out now.

Shallal 2 are keen to perform and so we are in the following. We are still debating the pieces we want to show so it's very scratchy, but i always love watching them, every week !! So we are hopeful and looking forward to it.

Wed 9 Oct 
at The Performance Centre, 
Everything starts with something. A brief encounter, happenstance, a good turn of phrase. Scratch night is a series of fragments of performance in-the-process by established, emerging and student artists. The intention is to share work and try things out with a supportive audience who are encouraged to give feedback. 
For more information contact:

I found these "off the floor" photos by Andy when searching through for other things and wanted to share them on the blog, they are from early Doorways rehearsals.



Sunday, 22 September 2013

Snaps from St Ives .....

Well Friday was a success, after much effort and planning it all came together well, in a colourful carnival atmosphere with the 3 groups with different characters.
The challenge of how to present and translate the Access ideas proved to be worth the struggle, and thanks on the day to Karen who collected feedback in/on her costume, and to Glen and Zoe and all who had time to talk to passers by, to engage in the discussion about mobility /access etc in a fun and joyful atmosphere (500 cards were given out)...

The only time i got out my camera was when we did an impromptu stop and performed for a wedding party! such a wonderful meeting of occasion and dressing up, theirs and ours!
We saw them on the way to the Town Hall, here, and then the bride and groom driving away in their car at the lifeboat corner!

So here are my snaps, there are photos from the tweeting on the FB page and more to come.

Tina suggested Kerry's sedan chair could be for hire! as it attracted many comments and requests.

Our group sang some "jolly" songs along the way, Simon kindly joined us at the last minute and was a drummer for Kerry's group and Katie had a fanfare, thanks to Glen.

Kerry and Trevor were both able to do their stunts/action with David and were surrounded and supported by characters from the company.

We all met up a few times to sing Barnoon Hill, to the tune of Camborne Hill. 
- words by Debbie O'Nyons.

Goin' up Barnoon Hill coming down
Goin' up Barnoon Hill coming down
The wheelchair got stuck                                       
We were all out of puff
Goin' up Barnoon Hill coming down

Support stockings, support stockings she wore
Support stockings, support stockings she wore
Support stockings she wore the same as before
Goin' up Barnoon Hill coming down.

I knew we were doomed 'alf way up
I knew we were doomed 'alf way up
It started to roll, down the hill it did bowl
Goin' up Barnoon Hill coming down.

It gathered, it gathered great speed
It gathered , it gathered great speed
I shouted “Me cockers take heed”
I shouted "Take heed"
Goin' up Barnoon Hill coming down.

It made such a blimen 'andsome sight
To see that poor maid in full flight
Skirts up round her 'ed
Knew’d she’d 'ave me for dead
Goin' up Barnoon Hill coming down.

There was 'ell up on hittin' those cobbles
There was 'ell up in hittin' those cobbles
I opened me bottle of mead and sank to me knees
Goin' up Barnoon Hill coming down.

It had to be flaming high tide
It had to be flaming high tide
Crying, "Call the life boat for me!"
As she bobbed out to sea

Goin' up Barnoon Hill coming down.

There is a lot to say about this project, it has it's own website and hopefully other people will write it from their perspective as each group met up, but had their own journey.
 Many thanks to all who helped and were involved,
and who knows there are plans and Kerry's sedan chair and friends maybe seen in Mazey day next year!!!

Bread and Writing workshop with Kneehigh at their Barns, for some of the main company tomorrow. We are looking forward to it.

It is a fantastic opportunity and will also provide creative ideas and time for some of the writers and artists who will deliver our Moving Words project.

I have just started another short BSL ( British Sign Language) course and I am learning so much about the culture and history, people and their struggles each time I engage with it.

Congratulations to Jessie and Demelza who have passed their BSL level 1 this year. 

Trustees meeting Monday evening, we are awaiting funding news and making plans.

Shallal 2 hope/plan to be involved in this exciting event

Monday, 16 September 2013

Remapping St Ives


Kerry pulling herself up the slip !

Some of the colourful characters who will be popping up!
( apologies for the blurr, will try to gain clearer image)

lots to say, but need just to post this now!
 we had a great time, out and about, hope it's sunny Friday!

Many thanks to all who have helped with the collecting, making, sewing and building for this project and to the kind carpenter who is letting us store our stuff in his workshop!
We also had 2 birthdays to celebrate Tina on the day and Katie on Sunday.

Looking forward to the final show and it all coming together and being able to creatively wander the streets, slipways and slopes of sunny St Ives!
Best wishes to George who is unable to be with us and hope to see him soon.

Friday, 13 September 2013

links, Michael and postcards!

A warbly old blog ....

Well some interesting links!
My dear brother Mark filmed by his younger son Jacca.
My Old Man And The Sea ....The sea and boats, being around fishing, nets, pots, and then diving is so much a part of my growing up and it makes me very nostalgic and ....
well done Jacca, it's a beautiful short film.

recently in the news, lovely art:

Eddie and Stuart brought in a great sea song they are working on to Shallal 2 this week.

Michael Landau
Life is full of ups and downs and i have been putting of facing the news that Michael Landau has suddenly moved to London. Michael is one of the funniest, warmest and most charming people I know, I always felt better for seeing him. We had worked together a lot over the years and it was thrill for me when he was able to come to Shallal and to see people in the company slowly understand and appreciate his humour and fun and then really take it on and develop it with him, into friendships and performances. For me a lot of Shallal is allowing more people to experience each others skills, beauty, quirkiness, delightful difference, so we enrich each others lives. Mine is deeply enriched by knowing Michael and I pray the new move will open a new chapter of possibilities.
Colin, Michael and Duane in rehearsal.

Having worked for "too" many years now,  I have seen the best and the worst and still have ringing in my ears a desperate plea from a talented artist ( moving out from Budock Hospital) who was so worried, as he was being moved, that he wouldn't come back to our sessions, ( Dance and Draw, a weekly session in the community ). I was reassured by his new staff that he would be continuing to come and so reassured him he would keep coming and then, never saw him again. I am still angry at being made an accomplice to that by believing them! and letting him down.

 There was never any follow up. All the time I worked at Budock I filled out forms for time, but each person was a statistic, not someone who loved dance/music would enjoy continuing it when they left for a new life. Someone who has something to share and offer their community. Big institutions can trap everyone, some of the staff were unable to provide what they wished.....

Being a vulnerable person means just that, your quality of life can be as good as the the care you receive. The responsibility of care and even the wish to give it, but not knowing enough about that person, what they like, what they have done, the sort of things a loving family know and will put effort in to make happen. I see people shine or diminish depending on the quality of love, care and understanding surrounding them. The difference a good support worker can make in someones life.

The other experience ringing in my ears though my life was a question from Peter who lived in one of the first independent homes, where I was a community service volunteer living with them, "Why do all the nice people leave?" the nice people -  the people who care. The responsibility of employers to make the work place good and supportive so good staff don't burn out and leave but stay, skills share and develop it all.
 (I burnt out with no adequate supervision on that placement and left early.)

While watching people in voluntary work i noticed most people had worked through their reasons/questions to be there and unless deeply committed to the work left after about 2 years. 

Onto St Ives,
and more in next blog!

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

rehearsal snaps for St Ives pop ups

New term with new faces, welcome to Joseph! ( in white t shirt) and Zoe,
so good to have Marjorie back with us and Trevor and Giles, who had transport issues towards the end of last term.
A few people away and Eleanor has left, we wish her well and we can all keep in touch through her housemates.

props, costume and not quite chaos, a good productive day! thank you to everyone

Kerry's costume...

Toby's original drawings 

Skye in a hat!

Katie as queen!

blurry but you can see the chair and some of the team
 There are 3 teams let loose in St Ives on the 20th and rehearsals this Friday in situ!
The pressure is on and Colin had a team in the studio on Monday finishing props, as ever will Toby make it! artists and deadlines are not the easiest combination but transformation happens at the last minute!
I can't speak, as i was up till the small hours rejigging postcard info. Jo L and in are in process.... when artists block hits you need to look at it and we are about to turn sideways i think, as ideas sound good but don't always come to reality there are more things than the mind, the heart and instincts, soul are always struggling to come through and be heard - we can't claim they do - but to make a space for the spirit and not to over prescribe! People/audience need to make their own relationship with works of art and art has it's own voice and needs to leave home! little morning lecture/pep talk/reminder to myself!


Skye - nearly in costume!

 another ...?
yet to be decorated
 trying to get a flattering photograph of everyone! i have put in 2 to try to be fair! this is the song and dance group! ....i'm looking forward to it and have to learn my words! great to have Trevor also with us....

Thursday, 5 September 2013

remapping St Ives, Shallal 2 and ....thoughts
updated website with video of the project launch from St Ives TV! from Jo Mayes who is leading this project. 
This project is looking at physical access for people with mobility issues in St Ives.

Physical access is a huge issue and anyone who has any experience in it knows the frustration/sorrow at not being able to go where you would wish. Our society is fairly unempathic to it. I was so impressed when travelling in America 30 years ago that the modern public buildings were all ramped and physically accessible. I know many of our beautiful old buildings can be hard to adapt, but still often so much can be done. The town hall in St Ives has been adapted.
The interesting conversation this project has raised within Shallal main company members is that of the less visible, more hidden issues/challenges/disabilities, the invisible ones. ( also by our nature and ethos we don't publicly use labels for people and we only use them to describe support needs but then rarely, we are just all people living with different struggles.) Currently in Shallal we have a wealth of experience, amongst those who work with us are: people with physical challenges since birth, from an accident and from a chronic health condition. 2 People who do training in disability awareness, one who also does inclusion training and currently is working with people with dementia.
It's no use going on a day out unless there is an accessible toilet nearby. Many people have mobility issues but aren't always in a wheelchair, ie: they can only walk a short distance. One person in Shallal has pulled out of the work in St Ives as she finds the uneven surfaces too difficult. Many people in Shallal have personnal experience of unseen disabilities, chronic health problems, additional needs. Physical challenges is 14% of the population who struggle with disability! an amazing statistic!
So we applaud the move to improve access, but signage and all sorts of other issues are involved to make society really accessible and inclusive. Physical challenges is the important tip of the iceberg and leads onto looking at what can't be seen. It is easier for people to start to relate to, Jo Mayes became aware of the difficulty in St Ives through pushing a buggy around, some of us break a leg, have restricted mobility for a while, which can help to increase our empathy.
The people with needs are the experts, they know what they need. They are the experts and real conversations are whats needed every time and real changes to create equal opportunities. Change starts with ourselves and if we can be open and learn that is a beginning. Everyone I work with is new to me each time I learn from them: what they can give, what they struggle with, what they need. Somewhere like St Ives can never be fully physically accessible, but the will to try, to help to make all the changes possible, to meet people with respect and openness and to value their dignity and rights.

It was a pleasure to be back at work in Friends and Dancing and Shallal 2 on Wednesday, the standard of work was breathtaking at times, i am so impressed with them and their creativity, sense of fun and commitment.
Both groups are awaiting funding but that is their only vulnerability, so this term I am developing tenacity! People come, they enjoy the work, each others company, it needs to continue. So please support our fundraisers this term.

Whilst looking for our birthday card images, (a tradition that started when most of our photographs were not available online), so a card was designed with photographs from recent performances on. I came across these from Shallal 2, often my memory of the session/performance is so strong I am disappointed not to capture it on film and so leave the photographs, but with time they have their own record and
some of Shallal 2 playing with costumes to be used in the pop ups in St Ives!
                 With thanks to Truro Museum,who have kindly lent us these costumes!

Shallal 2 don't as yet have a portfolio of photographs like the main company, but one week I tried to capture their zany humour and fantastic relationships, they can work with real integrity as a team, and are able to work alone and in relationship and move between the two, each person working to their personnal best, and being inspired by each other in the moment.

There is a long "To Do" list today: will the sedan chair work? will the lines come forth and be presented in a way which fits? will the hats be finished? etc
Next week we rehearse around St Ives?!

 Also much love to Debs (and bump) who is taking an early break from the company.

so I now must go to rummage through my desk and stop blogging to avoid work, "work to avoid work"

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Charity Shindig 2pm Saturday 7th Sept at The Acorn Theatre, Penzance

A quick start to the new year, straight into a guest performance, and a chance to see George -improvising musician - and the pieces created with him, 3 trios from quiet beauty to comedy and introducing 3 red flowers, (some of my favourite pieces) and a song with a solo from Zoe - if we have time!

Thank you to Colin for support through the summer holidays and thanks to Barbara.

Today i return to Friends and Dancing and to Shallal 2, and our youngest Luke starts school, ( i get a short trip on a small ferry to Flushing!) and Michael starts an Art and Design Course, so an exciting new year, and my working rhythm will change


A very helpful and creative meeting at The Studio on Monday, chatting with Colin, then Sue and Toby, and Diana dropped in.
The above is a painting, one of 3, that Toby gave to Shallal for a fundraiser some years ago. The fundraiser was called Saved by the bell! and we're still here!
We are planning a few fund raisers this term to help us along, so a Raffle, Sponsored dance and hopefully a small painting/picture show, (this last idea stolen from the title of an exhibition many years ago at Rainy Day gallery.
We were photographing MASK as The Redwing Gallery have an exhibition with a mask theme soon.
Exciting dates with Kneehigh outreach coming up, 
and it will be good to see everyone again, my groups start tomorrow, OH was yesterday with Daniela.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

new term

Starting again!
A new term starts this week and we are;
awaiting results from funding applications
in last stages of rehearsal for main co pop ups in St Ives on the 20th of September
featuring in a matinee "Shindig" at The Acorn on Saturday the September at 2pm, proceeds towards a hydro therapy pool for Nancalverne School, (idea from old friend of Shallal and one time performer Neil Oates who performs with Castaways and works with Champs)
in Penzance Library with Shallal Sketchbooks and Shallal Studio artists as part of the Big Draw in October date tbc
Sponsored dance and AGM on 15th November tbc
Raffle to be organised, offers and suggestions and donations please!