Shape Open Retrospective

by Shape Arts in London, Greater London, England

Shape Open Retrospective

Shape Open: an exhibition that gives a voice to the unheard, profile to the invisible and lets marginalised talented artists shout: #LetUsIn

by Shape Arts in London, Greater London, England

We did it
On 12th November 2018 we successfully raised £710 with 25 supporters in 28 days

#LetUsIn

Our #LetUsIn campaign will support our Shape Open exhibition ‘Cumulative Effect: Disability & the welfare state’ in East London. Typically, venues and galleries offering physical and intellectual access are rare. In fact, less than half the venues we viewed in London for the Open had no basic facilities such as accessible viewing spaces or even loos.

It’s time to change this.

Now in its seventh year, the annual Shape Open call out brings recognition to emerging disabled artists whilst highlighting the often contentious issues that surround the lived experience of disability.

In a society where whole swathes of people are one minute hailed as superheroes and the next decried as benefit scroungers, the Shape Open seeks to draw out authentic and talented artistic voices, as well as creating a platform for informed debate.  Artworks are selected by a panel of industry judges, including Shape Open patron Yinka Shonibare MBE.

Why is the Open important?

The art of disabled artists has often been sidelined. Galleries and museums have kept our works away for decades on grounds of ‘taste’, ‘cultural difference’, ‘appropriateness’, uncertainties about audience appeal, and countless other reasons. Here is a sample of what we face:  

“Did you make that yourself?”

“Is there a chance you might die during the residency?”

Alongside this kind of marginalisation is the fact that most arts venues and galleries offer the bare minimum in terms of physical and intellectual access. We say it’s time to change this.

How do I get involved?

With your support we can showcase the work of a new generation of disabled artists to a waiting world.  Your support is welcome in any of the following ways: 

  • Attend the exhibition - pop in, bring a friend, bring a crowd, bring everyone!
  • Share our #LetUsIn message with at least two other people or organisations
  • Support our crowdfunder campaign to keep our work resourced, and to prevent exciting new talent going to waste. Every pound you donate helps towards fair and equal access to the arts.

If 5,000 people can donate the cost of a cup of coffee, we can keep the Open running for another year. This covers installation and transportation of artworks, plus the booking of an accessible space.  

We want to see the works of talented disabled artists hosted in venues of every shape and size. 

If the work is good enough to be seen – it should be seen.

Help us to open up the arts to all. Help to #LetUsIn.

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‘Cumulative Effect: Disability and the welfare state’

at Hoxton Arches, Arch 402, Cremer St, London E2 8HD

The exhibition will run from 2 November – 11 November 

10.00 - 18.00

If you have any access requirements, or would like this information in another format please contact Sara Dziadik at sara@shapearts.org.uk or 0207 424 7330.


Shape Arts provides opportunities and support for disabled artists and cultural organisations to build a more inclusive and representative cultural sector. Below is a film from Shapes' 40th anniversary in 2016:

Reg charity no. 279184

Supported by Arts Council England




Banner Image: Strangers by Carly Jane

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