Colour photograph of a white caravan from outside the wooden orchard gates, framed by trees, with a red brick tiled cottage behind it. If you look very carefully, you can see a Westie immediately behind the gate.


Holton Lee

Colour photograph of me sitting smiling on my blue mobility scooter, wearing black sunglasses, a purple head scarf, and black shorts and a black T shirt with a 'No Fear' logo. Genie is straining at her lead.
Genie and I enjoying Holton Lee's music festival in July 2006. Photo: Julie Newman



My name is Ju Gosling, also known as ju90. I have been appointed as the artist-in-residence on the project to build a home for the National Disability Arts Collection and Archive (NDACA) at Holton Lee. You can find out more about me and see examples of my work on my website at You can find out more about the architect who is in charge of building the archive, Sarah Wigglesworth, on her website at

What is NDACA?

The idea of creating a National Disability Arts Collection and Archive has been around for some years. artists and others believe that it is important to ensure that work is preserved for future generations, rather than being lost. Disabled artists are often undervalued simply because we are disabled, and we tend to be isolated from many networking opportunities. As many die younger too, and have shorter careers, much of our work is missing from national collections.

The archive will enable scholars and other researchers to have easy access to Disabled artists' work. There is a plan to develop an MA course in disability arts at The Arts Institute Bournemouth, and the archive will play a key role in this. The archive will have many other benefits too. It will enable curators to find out about Disabled artists' work much more easily. Our own curator will also be able to curate touring exhibitions and loan work into other collections. Together, these initiatives will enable our work to be seen more widely.

Alongside the physical building, we will be developing a 'virtual archive' over the next three years. This will enable photographs of and information about all of the work within the archive to be accessed from the Internet. Work by Disabled artists and Disability Arts organisations that is held elsewhere will also be included in the virtual archive. Eventually, Disabled artists will be able to submit details about their new work electronically and this will be added to the archive automatically, keeping it constantly up to date.

Holton Lee has been chosen as the site of the archive because it has already become a leader in exhibiting work by Disabled artists and supporting Disabled artists through its studio and workshop programme. It is also accessible to disabled visitors, with accessible residential accommodation available on site. Holton Lee already holds the current contents of the archive, with work being displayed around the site wherever possible.

You can find out more about the background to the archive project on the Holton Lee website. More of the documents relating to this will be put up on their site over the next few months.

What is my role?

My job is to represent Disabled artists' interests within a team that includes Holton Lee staff, architects, quantity surveyors and all the other people who are involved in creating a new building. A lot of Disabled artists have been involved in planning the archive and in deciding that Holton Lee is the best place to base it. This is helping me to represent the views that have already been agreed by other artists about what the archive should do and how it should be run.

I would also like to hear your views about how the archive should be developed. You can email me at (click on this address to send me an email now). Later I will be adding a bulletin board to this blog, so that you can add your opinions directly to the blog.

My job is NOT to help to decide what goes into the archive. This will be done by a team of staff at Holton Lee, including an Archivist and a Curator. Their work will be supported by a committee of Disabled artists and representatives from Disability Arts organisations.

I will though be making a piece of work for the archive during my time working at Holton Lee. This will either be sited inside the building, or outside where we plan to have sculpture within an adjoining courtyard and small wooded area. From time to time I will put up images of work that I am making towards this goal.

Why did I want to do this job?

I am proud to define myself as a Disabled artist who works largely within the theories and traditions of the Disability Arts movement. I believe that the Disability Arts movement is the most exciting international fine art movement that exists today. (I will write more about this later.) I am very pleased to be able to help to preserve our history and to make it available for enjoyment and for study.

I am also very committed to making research facilities accessible to disabled people. When I studied for my PhD, there were a lot of practical difficulties in terms of using libraries and so on that were quite unnecessary. I wrote about this in My Experiences as a Disabled Researcher, which is published online as part of my PhD.

As an artist, I am very interested in landscape and the environment, as well as in science. So I really welcome the opportunity to spend time and make work at Holton Lee, which is set in 350 acres of nature reserve that include seven separate sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs). Holton Lee also has accessible studio facilities for artists, the Stables Studios, and a purpose-built exhibition space, Faith House.

What will you find out about in this blog?

First of all, you will find out more about Holton Lee and about how the archive project is developing. I will tell you about things as they happen, and will also include links to other important documents about the archive. For example, when the architects, Sarah Wigglesworth, have finalised the building plans, I will put copies on the internet and put links in to these from the blog.

Then, you will be able to find out more about Holton Lee as I discover it for myself. I had not been to Holton Lee before I was appointed as the Artist Adviser, although I had heard a lot about it from other Disabled artists and friends. This means that it is new to me, as it may be to you too. I will put plenty of pictures of Holton Lee here in the blog, as well as writing about it.

You will also be able to find out how the Holton Lee and virtual archive websites are developing, and about what new sections have been added to them. For example, Disabled artists and Disability Arts organisations held a number of conferences about whether or not to have an archive, and about how to run it. When these reports are available on the internet, I will tell you here. Allan Sutherland, who has written a lot about Disability Arts, has also carried out some important research about what the archive should include and about how Disability Arts organisations should be supported to preserve their own histories. I will also tell you when this research is available on the internet.

Finally, you will be able to read occasional essays by me about different aspects of Disability Arts, and about life as a Disabled artist. And you will be able to see the work that I make while I am here.

If you would like us to email you when the blog is updated, email

Please note that all of the opinions you read here are my own. They do NOT represent the opinions of Holton Lee, or the National Disability Arts Collection and Archive, or any of the funding bodies such as the Arts Council England.

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All contents © 2006

Dr Ju Gosling aka ju90's ABNORMAL: How Britain became body dysphoric and the key to a cure is available now for just 3.09 for the Kindle or in a limited-edition hardback with full-colour art plates for 20 inc UK postage and packing. Book cover