Aussie Exhibition To Inspire London’s Paralympics
by ArtsHub, originally published in the Global Newsletter.
You can read the original article online here.
Held during the Paralympic Games, Spare Parts is an exhibition featuring prosthetic limbs that have been transformed into various pieces of art. Curated by Brisbane artist Priscilla Sutton, this exhibition is sure to be a fitting companion to the Paralympic Games, where many competing athletes have prosthetics.
The idea for the exhibition came to Sutton when she found her own old prosthetic legs while cleaning out her wardrobe.
‘I suddenly thought it was crazy to hold on to them. Once a leg is replaced there isn’t any reason to keep an old one,’ she says. ‘Amputees keep them – partially as a “just in case” but also for sentimental reasons – prosthetics become part of your body and you don’t just chuck your body out.’
What followed was a highly successful exhibition held at the Brisbane Powerhouse.
‘I was amazed at its success,’ Sutton says. ‘Thousands of people visited the exhibition from art lovers, to amputees, and the general community alike. School groups came for tours and it was a huge hit with kids of all ages.’
The success of this exhibition caused Sutton to set her sights on the global art world in the hopes of sending out a strong message about those who have ever had need of prosthetic body parts.
‘We want to turn prosthetics into a positive conversation and try to take the taboo out of the subject. High-profile people like the athlete Oscar Pistorius and the many servicemen and women who have lost limbs and are enjoying a fulfilling normal and active life are also sending out very strong positive messages,’ she says.
New prosthetics for the upcoming London exhibition have been collected, and artists from the UK, France, Australia, America and Japan are all working on transforming the prosthetic parts into works of unique art.
‘While the world looks on and is inspired by elite athletes, this exhibition is about the everyday life of an amputee and celebrating prosthetics. We shouldn’t wait four years to feel comfortable and confident in talking about amazing legs, andSpare Parts is about just that – creating an open and positive conversation,’ Sutton says.
Another great source of inspiration came to Sutton in the form of seven-year-old Zoe Larson, who owns a polka dot prosthetic leg and contributed two of her old prosthetics to the exhibition.
‘When [Zoe] was three years old her favourite thing to do at the park was swing really high and then kick her leg off in mid air – at this point we were considering taking out public liability insurance!’ Zoe’s mother, Shannon, said. ‘Zoe is 7 now, and nothing is like we thought it would be. She dances, she swims, she runs – like everybody else. She loves choosing her legs and we wait with bated breath to see what psychedelic number she comes home with.’
Like Zoe, Sutton herself has had to live with a prosthetic leg after having elective surgery in 2005 to remove the leg that was affected by a bone condition.
‘There are some challenges in life, but nothing stops me from giving everything and anything a go,’ she says. ‘Spare Parts has helped create new conversations, share my love of prosthetics and has provided crucial support and encouragement to lots of amputees along the way.’
Now, Sutton has two prosthetic legs to lean on – one which allows her to run and which is decorated with brightly-coloured Japanese fabric and the other which features artwork by pop surrealist artist Mark Ryden.
Above all else, she hopes that the exhibition will raise awareness of disability through the beauty of art.
‘This exhibition is a great opportunity to create an open and positive conversation about prosthetics, amputees, disability and art,’ she says.
Spare Parts is taking place from 25 August to 9 September at The Rag Factory in London.