Lesley Illingworth‘s Storytelling Coat deals head-on with the theme of “shoddy” government policies and practice towards disabled people. While the outside of the coat highlights the many positive qualities of disabled people, such as strength, patience, intuition, the lining tells a different story. MPs’ names are partnered with the name of a disabled person from Calum’s List – a memorial to deceased benefit claimants, where welfare reform is alleged to have had some culpability in their deaths.
“The political system of recent years against disabled people, and the increase in vilification by the media, has made me more political. I’ve seen how it’s affected the lives of disabled people, the unfairness of it all.”
This is the first time that Lesley Illingworth has made a political statement with her work, drawing on her extensive experience, as a disabled woman, of the medical and political systems, and particularly their impact on disabled people.
Illingworth is interested in how policy and decision-making is affected by the educational, familial and psychological powerbase of authority figures.
“I have become acutely aware of the storytelling spin and lies political organisations use to further their own causes. Attempting to rewrite a story with no illness, disability, powerlessness or vulnerability, rewriting the story believing they can cure and change illness and disability with hard work. But of course they cannot effect this change.
“Current policies further humiliate and abuse disabled people in an attempt to kill them off and make them disappear. I have recently been evicted from my home and placed in temporary accommodation, with complete disregard for my illness and disability, as there is inadequate social housing available.”
The Storytelling Coat is a powerful way to tell truth and confront the lies.
The outer coat of purple extols the strength of disabled people. The lining tells of their oppression.