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Disability celebrated in new interactive sculpture unveiled by comedy star at the University of Hull


The University of Hull and Artlink Hull have partnered-up to commission a unique, interactive sculpture aiming to celebrate those in the local community living with a disability – and it will be unveiled by TV star Reece Shearsmith on June 28.

This new piece of art called, ‘A Totem For Hull’, will be unveiled by Hull-born actor and creator of cult-comedy, The League of Gentlemen, Reece Shearsmith. The unveiling is open to all and will take place Friday, 28 June at 2pm outside the Brynmor Jones Library, University of Hull.

Spearheaded by disabled artist, Jason Wilsher-Mills, the project has been developed by working with a range of disability groups and organisations in Hull. This has allowed local disabled people to explore the representation of disability in the region through retelling their personal stories.

Viewers of the sculpture are invited to download an app which will launch them into an augmented reality experience with full stories told through animations, text and audio. The ‘Totem for Hull’ app can be downloaded on iTunes and Android from Friday, 28 June.

The stories told will be updated and changed over time as more tales are collected from local people.

Reece Shearsmith, who is also behind hit BBC shows, Psychoville and Inside No. 9, says: “Storytelling is a passion of mine and it’s clear Jason’s vision of combining digital art, sculpture and augmented reality has ensured these particular stories have been told in a unique way.

 “It is wonderful to see the sculpture, depicting a disabled person, is situated on campus at the University of Hull where so many people will be able see it and interact with it every day. I am honoured to have been asked to unveil this groundbreaking work as it shows creativity and diversity in my hometown at its very best.”

The artwork has been commissioned as part of the University’s Culture Campus initiative. Marianne Lewsley-Stier, Head of Culture Campus at the University of Hull, says: “This has been fantastic and important partnership with Artlink and Jason. Interacting with the sculpture is more than just a fancy feature. It gives us all a chance to listen to, and learn from, our local disabled community.

“The stories you hear in the augmented reality are real and will increase our awareness and change our perception of living with a disability. The totem truly ensures our campus is diverse and inclusive for all our students, staff and visitors.”

Jason Wilsher-Mills, disabled artist and creator of ‘A Totem For Hull’, adds: “Being commissioned to create a new sculpture, for such an illustrious venue as the University of Hull, developed with some of the disabled communities of Hull, is an absolute honour.

“To have a sculpture at such a high profile venue, which celebrates disability, is a great honour also. I have really bonded with some of the people I have worked with and feel that there is even more stories out there in Hull to be explored.”

Born in Wakefield and based in Sleaford, Lincolnshire, Jason returns to Hull after completing a Square Peg Residency with Artlink Hull during UK City of Culture 2017.

The project is supported by Arts Council England, Hull City Council Arts and the University of Hull.

A Totem for Hull is a legacy of Jason’s work in the city and has been delivered in partnership with Artlink Hull, the University of Hull and Hot Knife Media.

It is part of a wider project by Jason Wilsher-Mills in which more totems will spring up across the country to tell the stories of local disabled people.


Photo: copyright Jerome Whittingham


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