Westonbirt Arboretum breaks down barriers for disabled visitors
A new exhibit featuring multi-sensory experiences through the trees of Westonbirt Arboretum aims to break down barriers for visitors with disabilities. Fragile with Attitude features stories from contemporary artist Zoe Partington and six Art Shape artists, showing the landscape of Westonbirt through their own experiences.
The goal of the Expo, which runs April 21-25, is to break down disabling barriers to accessing and enjoying the Arboretum and all of the exciting multi-sensory experiences it has to offer. Developed as part of the ‘Re-Storying Landscape for Social Inclusion’ collaboration, the project was led by Dr Sarah Bell from the University of Exeter in collaboration with Westonbirt, Art Shape, Zoe Partington and Natural Inclusion.
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“In an ableist world, people with disabilities are often overlooked or marginalized into certain categories that can be crippling,” Zoe said. “Our exhibit is about the stories and lives that are often distorted within our society. Westonbirt Arboretum provides space to frame new perspectives of a ‘frailty’ in nature that impacts us all.
The project also includes a new sound installation by acclaimed sound artist James Bulley and visually impaired sensory explorer Andy Shipley. “Sensing History” is an immersive experience with different imaginary soundscapes based on the history and future of Westonbirt.
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The piece takes the audience into a more than human tale, woven with sounds, touches and smells, traveling from deep time to the present day, their path marked by the rich floral species that surround them. The overall aim of the project has been to encourage landscape decision-makers to think about the various ways in which landscapes are felt, valued and experienced over time by different groups of people.
Ben Oliver, Westonbirt Learning and Engagement Manager, said: “It is important that we think about how the arboretum is used and experienced by all groups of people to ensure that everyone can learn and move on. a brilliant day and experience the trees in all their glory. It also helps us as staff identify where we can make changes, such as staff inclusion training, to help us be a more accessible site. »
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