One of the artists taking part in Shoddy, Vickie Orton, has chosen the theme of a maze to reflect the experience of working your way through the benefit system:
“It’s like navigating a maze, so often you’re faced with dead ends or turnings that look promising but lead nowhere.”
The blanket that forms the background to the work was made in the local mill where Orton’s great-grandmother, great aunt, great uncle and grandmother all worked. The pieces are felted using wool representing the local woollen industry.
The first maze is a representation of how shoddily disabled people are treated under the current system. It’s impossible to work your way through this maze, there are many obstacles in the way including several staircases – an obvious barrier to a wheelchair user. The monochrome colour scheme illustrates the claims process, but for the majority of people the impact of disability on their daily life is not black and white.
The second maze represents the positive contributions that disabled people make to society. All the lines on the maze join up together at some point representing the links and support that disabled people both give and receive within the community. The bright colours reflect the many facets of life. The choice of colours, some with sparkle running through, illustrate the vitality and richness of an inclusive society.
In this budget week, with further cuts to benefits, this is an important reminder of the contribution that disabled people make, and the fact that everyone gives and receives support.
Vickie Orton with her work at Shoddy’s launch event 6.4.16.