As the mother of a young adult with Down’s Syndrome Henny Beaumont has longed for her daughter to be more visible.
Now, in celebration of difference and talent, the artist and Guardian Cartoonist, who is currently Artist in residence for the British Institute for Learning Disabilities and Respond UK, has teamed up with businesses in Stoke Newington to curate the Invisible People Art Trail.
Work by people who feel marginalised or invisible will be displayed in shop and restaurant windows (July 2-10). The project is being run in partnership with Kate Revere of social enterprise Revere the Residence, where Henny’s daughter Beth works in the holidays. Kate’s daughter Piper is deaf and autistic.
Henny explained: “Kate and I bonded over a sense that we both feel our daughters are a bit invisible. There is a sense that they are not part of the community, friendships are very difficult and isolation is a real problem.
“Beth draws all the time - she does beautiful drawings. She completely has her own style. She draws directly from her imagination - she draws family and friends and she’s obsessed by flowers and butterflies but does it in her own way.
“It has been very difficult to get people involved, onboard, feeling responsible and understanding of what she has to offer and how valuable, what a lovey funny, warm brilliant person she is. It’s very difficult because people just see the disability first of all and don’t take on board all the other wonderful characteristics."
Henny added: “Piper comes round and draws with me and she does amazing drawings – she draws until her dad comes round to pick her up! She has lots of work in the show.”
Beth, 21, is currently studying catering at college in Minehead. Just 5% of adults with learning disabilities are employed.
Henny added: “It’s outrageously low. Beth’s college has a 65% rate of employment after college - it shows what can be done. We’re trying to do something to help people make some money and be recognised.
“As a mother of someone with a learning disability and Down’s Syndrome it really important that people see and recognise my daughter and her abilities – like any other mum you want that.”
Revere the Residence is a social enterprise offering employment and work experience to young disabled people or those with additional needs or their parents.
Henny, who has three other children, added: “Kate has been a lifesaver for Beth because she has created a community of people with learning disabilities and other disabilities and you’ll see the warmth and sense of community in the shop when everyone is together. The Art Trail is a celebration of these people’s abilities, an opportunity to make people feel visible and for their artwork to be seen. It’s an appreciation of difference.”
A host of aspiring artists who feel marginalised have submitted art for the exhibition.
Work will be sold, with all proceeds going to the artists. The sale of donated work will help fund the Stoke Newington Business Association. Henny and artist Brigit Connolly have also been working with local special needs school Stormont House to produce plates and mugs with students’ artwork, which will be sold in Stoke Newington this summer.
Beth added: I hope people might like my pictures and I feel happy. When I do paintings, it does relax me.”
Click here for more info about the Invisible People Art Trail.