Leeds Access Cloaks
A project with Pyramid of Arts
We’ve long admired the amazing work Pyramid do, helping people with a learning disability to discover the arts, and to develop their talents to become world-class artists. So, for us this felt like an amazing opportunity to be part of something exciting.
As central as the improvement of access was to the Picture House Project, the particular needs of those with a learning disability, whether they be artists or audiences, is an area we still have a tremendous amount to learn about. Beginning to work with Pyramid and Alfie felt like an important way we could begin that journey.
Projects like this can take a long time to come together which thankfully allowed us get our building works finished. In the meantime, Alfie and his team of support artists were busy gaining the support of the Arts Council to help bring to life Leeds Access Cloaks.
Alfie conceived the project as a way to get audiences to think about disabled people and their access to art and artistic spaces.
The cloaks themselves were created in a number of workshops with Leeds SILC Schools and a Pyramid’s Eden Group involving visits to each of the venues involved in the project. In the workshops hundreds of monoprinted circles were made responding to the buildings and the makers' experiences within them. These beautiful fragments were then stitched to together to make four larger-than-life Access Cloaks!
One of the workshops took place at the Picture House at the start of July, just a couple of weeks after we’d opened our doors for the first time in three years. At that time it felt daunting welcoming any audiences back into the building but Alfie and the Eden Group were so kind and generous with us. The questions they asked about the building and what we do helped us to feel like we really were back home again but also allowed us to appreciate that the changes we’d gone through as part of our renovation were worth it.
As well as at the Picture House, three other finished Access Cloaks have now been hung from three other important cultural venues in Leeds: Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills; Leeds City Museum; and The Carriageworks Theatre.
Speaking with Alfie about the project, he hopes that his cloaks will encourage the people of Leeds to think more about access and inclusion. So, please keep your eyes peeled for Alfie’s Access Cloaks.
About Alfie Fox
Alfie Fox works with photography, digital art, print, text, collage, and making films. He enjoys experimenting with new techniques and building his skills across different art mediums.
His artwork advocates and challenges people’s perspective of access for people with disabilities and incorporates the difficulties he has personally faced as a young man with multiple disabilities.
Alfie is an avid campaigner. He is an ambassador for Scope 4 Change and is a member of his local hospitals access forum, ensuring that there is good access for those that are disabled. He was recently featured in Possibility Magazine speaking about his campaigning for access.
For more information about Pyramid of arts please visit www.pyramid.org.uk
This project was supported by Pyramid and Arts Council England National Lottery Project Grants.
PHOTO CREDITS TO Michael Godsall.