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Disabled UK and European artists converge on Much Wenlock to celebrate the Olympics with a fantastic festival

  • Date: 21 March 2012
  • Area: Midlands
Man standing with a video camera

Simon McKeown. Credit: Simon McKeown

Much Wenlock in Shropshire, the home town of the late William Penny Brookes who inspired the modern Olympic Games, will come alive over the weekend of Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 May with a variety of art events by disabled artists from all over the UK and also Europe.

Entitled M21: From the Medieval to the 21st Century the project is presented by DASH (Disability Arts in Shropshire) as part of Unlimited, which is the ground-breaking Cultural Olympiad programme that celebrates arts and culture by disabled and deaf artists.

The free live art events will take place in the streets of Much Wenlock and the Priory Hall.

Mike Layward, Artistic Director with DASH says: 'M21 will bring together the history of this small Shropshire town with the politics of live art to confront the reality of modern rural living.

'Never before have so many of the UK's leading disabled live artists gathered in a small town in middle England.

'Witness the spectacle and thought -provoking work of these artists, in the streets of Much Wenlock and amazing projections on the 7th Century church as the sun sets on the Saturday night.

'We hope to attract many visitors from all over the country who will enjoy the diversity of the events. We hope they will also enjoy looking round such a beautiful town which has connections to the modern Olympic Games.'

M21 is funded by the UK Arts Councils, London 2012 and the British Council.

Ros Robins, Regional Director with Arts Council England in the West Midlands, comments: "DASH are bringing together artists from all over the UK and also Europe to present what promises to be an exciting weekend in this historic town.

"Our Unlimited project encourages collaborations and partnerships between disability arts organisations, disabled and deaf artists, producers and mainstream organisations to celebrate the inspiration of the Olympic and Paralympic Games."

One of the artists taking part is Simon Mckeown, from North Yorkshire. He is one of the UK's most experienced digital practitioners and will transform Holy Trinity Church with a crazy mix of technology using outdoor projections, opera singing to an accordion and animated creatures.

Simon comments: "Much Wenlock is a fantastic ancient town, and the miracle worker Milburga was one of its founders over 1000 years ago.

"Home of modern Olympics the town has a great and almost fantastical history. I can't wait to bring it alive soon with some visual magic and wonderful live music by Denise Leigh!

"M21 is a great and inspired festival with great artists. I think we should have more, and I hope lots of people come and enjoy the whole weekend. "

The other artists taking part are:

Sean Burn, based in the North East, is a writer and performer with a growing international reputation.  He will present Psychosis Belly  - absurdist poetry made from sports motivational statements.

The Disabled Avant Garde, from London, is a satirical arts organisation which creates contemporary art.  They will perform in costume Wendeville and Manlock based on the London 2012 mascots.

Kontenjer, a not-for-profit organisation based in Croatia, will create a film See no evil, hear no evil in which the main actors (one blind the other deaf) are exposed to a series of awkward situations.  They will also film events throughout the weekend.

Noemi Lakmaier, from London, was born in Vienna but studied in the UK. She will present 'O' Zero which will consist of four physically fit men and her own disabled body in a relay race that will render a competitive sport entirely non-competitive.

Alan McLean, from West Bromwich, is a performance artist. He will present Searching for Tony Mustoe. Alan met Tony in a Sheffield Day Centre and they performed at the National Review of Live Art.  Alan is auditioning performers for the Much Wenlock show.

Tanya Raabe, a visual artist from Shropshire, who emerged from Scarborough to establish herself as a pioneering visual artist, will paint the Mayor of Much Wenlock, Lesley Durbin. In 2010 Tanya won the Ability Media International Award for her work in the visual arts.

Ann Whitehurst, from Stoke on Trent, will present Training to be Me.  She will be filmed at a distance as well as in microscopic close up training herself to be herself.  She will then be in conversation with an assessor and evaluator.

For more information about M21 visit