Thursday, 19 January 2017

Celf Able - disability and the arts in Powys

This week's guest author is Amanda Wells - one of the founder members of the group Celf Able in Powys.

Celf-Able is a new group by and for disabled and disability artists in Powys. We provide opportunities for people to meet and create art, supporting and learning from each other. Our aim is to reduce isolation and raise awareness of disability arts and disability issues. We meet at Oriel Davies, Newtown one month and at Centre Celf, Llandrindod Wells the other. We are very grateful to have Arts Council of Wales ‘Sharing Together’ funding to meet until the end of March 2017. So the search for further funding to carry on beyond that has begun! 

The four initial members of the group had met on the Celf o Gwmpas Artist Training and Mentoring project, which ran from 2009 to 2014. As well as meeting regularly to develop our arts practice, we’d had some adventures including trips to Edinburgh, Glasgow and Finland. When the project came to an end we wanted to carry on meeting as a group as we all found working together and supporting each other very valuable with our various disabilities and the exclusion that disabled and disability artists often experience. We were lucky enough to secure funding from ArtWorks Cymru to meet bi-monthly, and meetings started in May 2015. 

We are pleased that some new members have joined the group since then. We have enjoyed sharing art skills and techniques, peer support, and we have even had a go at performance art, preparing and performing a short piece for ArtWorks Cymru conference in November 2016. For the performance we all chose a barrier that we face personally to engaging in opportunities, and between us we wrote a script about how the barriers affect us and how they might be overcome. The message we were trying to get across was serious but we used a lot of humour in the performance. 

We have just completed the process of becoming a not-for-profit company. This will open up the possibility of more grants for us. We would like to carry on getting together and are currently having discussions as to how the different members of the group would like to see Celf-Able develop. Some members just want to come along to do art in a supportive atmosphere, other members are more ambitious for the group, but there’s room for everyone to take part in whatever way they wish.

For our performance piece it somehow came about that we all took on the characters of birds (don’t ask, I really can’t remember how the idea came up but we decided to work with it), and we are now working on a group installation piece called ‘Bird House’. Celf o Gwmpas are kindly giving us a space to work in over several weeks, we have no funding but are meeting the costs involved ourselves, just because the idea came up and we all want to do it and we enjoy working together.

We are open to any new people who would like to come along, maybe just to meet us and find out what we’re up to. 

Our upcoming meetings are at Centre Celf, Llandrindod Wells, January 24th 11.00am - 3.00pm, and at Oriel Davies, Newtown, February 28th 10.30am - 3.00pm.

To mark the end of the Arts Council funding we are running a training day on arts and disability, and how the arts can be used for inclusion and wellbeing. The sessions are open to disabled people, arts workers, community workers, health and social workers and others. The days are taking place on March 21st in Newtown and March 28th in Llandrindod. The sessions are free and lunch is provided. To book a place call 01938 810058 or email


Voluntary (Un!)-co-ordinator, Celf-Able

Many thanks to Amanda for telling us about this innovative arts and disability group. You can read more on the Celf Able website, including a blog post by the Chair Sue Patch who writes "What Celf Able has done for me".  And you can learn about the development of Disability Art in the 1970s and 80s as a result of the new political activism of the disabled peoples' movement.

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