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United in praise of Disability in Action

Who’s been making the news round your way this week?

04 January, 2019 — By Helen Chapman

At the Disabled Action in Islington event, from left: Etheny Anderson, Patrick Lynch (secretary), Gaynor Lunt (volunteer), Louise Walton (volunteer) and Tesfa Berhane (finance officer)

Disabled residents rallied behind the organisation that “won’t turn anyone away” in thanks for help with Universal Credit applications. Disabled Action in Islington (DAII) held an event at St Luke’s Community Centre, Central Street, last month to celebrate United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

Ashar Smith

Ashar Smith, 28, who is blind, runs youth organisation Creative Opportunities, supporting young people with training in creative industries, and is on the DAII management committee.
He said: “Having an organisation run by and for disabled people shows a level of empathy that you can’t get anywhere else. Next we are looking for fundraising opportunities.”

Artist Tanya Raabe

Attendees who braved the rain were treated to workshops by disabled artist Tanya Raabe, who is currently artist in residence with Apple in Regent’s Street, and spoken word artist Potent Whisper, who talked about austerity and its effects on ordinary people.

Patrick Lynch, secretary of DAII, said: “It is the only specialised organisation that deals specifically with disabled people that come in all different shapes and forms. It won’t turn anyone away.
“Today is a way of bringing everyone together and strengthening our voices.”

The DAII offer advice on housing, benefits and employment support to disabled residents in Islington. It runs on a voluntary basis. The event took place on December 3 and was attended by Islington Council leader Richard Watts and Mayor David Poyser. Disability Action in Islington is partially funded by the council and Arsenal in the Community.


The importance of being Gary…

Michelle Deignan, left, and a still from Looking for Gary, 2018. Copyright: Michelle Deignan, courtesy of Tintype

A filmmaker took it upon herself to search for Islingtonians called Gary. Michelle Deignan’s film Looking for Gary is on show in an exhibition called Essex Road 5, at Tintype Gallery.

Growing up in Ireland, 10-year-old Michelle first heard the word “Islington” on TV when the band Spandau Ballet was introduced on Top of the Pops as “five young guys from Islington”. Years later she discovered that Gary Kemp, Spandau Ballet’s songwriter, had worked in a shop in Essex Road. Gary Kemp is long gone but Michelle has taken a camera and a film crew to Essex Road in search of a new Gary.

Michelle, who has lived in London for 20 years, says: “Years later when I moved to London, I always associated Islington with Spandau Ballet. Gary Kemp spoke about Essex Road as the frontline of different people living in Islington in the 1970s. With this project, I thought of his relationship with Essex Road and I thought – why not find a replace­ment Gary, a replacement icon?”

Michelle toured the shops and businesses in the area. “We found someone called Gary Heatley at the William Hill at number 230 Essex Road,” she says. “It turns out he also has a brother called Martin.”

The exhibition is on at Tintype gallery at 107 Essex Road, N1 2SL, until 19 January, open Wednesday to Saturday 12-6pm. The eight films are screened on a loop every day from 4-11pm. The total run­ning time is 42 minutes.


Life gets crafty and creative on the estate

Daphne Balfe and Sheila Buckley beside an artwork that the group collaborated on. At 3×1.50m, it includes images and characters related to the history of Archway and Islington. Members of art group – who used stencil screen­print, collage and painting to create it – can also be found here

An exhibition took place last month showing the work from an art class for elderly people in Archway. Artist Marta Corada took over organising the activities and art classes at Girdlestone Community Centre two years ago. “We work with several art expressions – painting, collage, murals, photography, exhibition day trips among other activities,” she says. “The project aims to add extra value, enhancing the lives of people living on the Girdlestone estate, by providing the oppor­tunity to develop new making skills, as well as sharing and strengthening creative ideas.”

Girdlestone Community centre – at 151 Salisbury Walk, N19 5DX – has two halls for hire, one with a maximum occupancy of 60, the other of 120. Both are available at weekends and some weekdays for meetings, children’s parties and celebrations and art workshops, yoga and other activities.

The Girdlestone Art Group runs a weekly free art class every Wednesday from 10am to 12pm. The group is planning to organise a summer show with some new artwork, including sculpture and new crafts they will learn in the coming months.

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