Colin is founding editor of Disability Arts Online. He has worked as a journalist, artist and poet within the disability arts sector in the UK since the early ’90s, when he was on the steering committee for Survivors’ Poetry. In 1995,when the Survivors’ Poetry Movement was at its height, he edited the group’s award-winning illustrated anthology, Under the Asylum Tree. He contributed to regular gigs and writing workshops within London’s thriving performance poetry scene.
Colin published his illustrated collections of poems, 100 Houses (2011) and Knitting Time (2013), shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Literary Award. He combines poetry and prose performance with visual art to express his personal experience of the wonders and trials of psychosis. In his teaching, journalism and arts practice, Colin draws on ideas from within Narrative Medicine, Open Dialogue and the Soteria Network that look at challenging medical model ideas of pathological ‘mental illness’ rather than the stresses inherent to living in a mad world.
Sandy is a prize-winning poet and writer who has lived with schizophrenia and all its moods for 40 years. She is a community educator who speaks to schools, universities and community groups about what it’s like to live with mental illness. She writes about madness, domestic violence and the humorous antics of women who play midweek ladies’ tennis.
Sandy published Poems from the Madhouse (1993), Loose Kangaroos (co-author, 1998), Blood Relations (2000), Confessions of a Midweek Lady: Tall Tennis Tales (2001) and The Wings of Angels: A memoir of madness (2004). Her memoir, Flying with Paper Wings: Reflections on Living with Madness (2009), won the SANE Book of the Year Award. Her latest collections of poetry are The Mad Poet’s Tea Party (2015) and Chiaroscuro (2015).
Sandy resides with her friends and animals on the outskirts of Melbourne. She writes poetry in the hope she will ‘move angels to tears and make a stern god laugh.’
Ken is a Murri writer, poet and activist. His people are from the Kunja Clan of the Bidjara Nation in south-west Queensland. His Bidjara name is Burraga Gutya.
In his youth, Ken spent time in boys’ homes and was later sent to Boggo Road Jail. While in prison, Ken learned to read and write. He then began to write poetry. He has lived in Sydney for over 30 years. He worked as an academic and cultural adviser at the University of Technology Sydney and is currently a support worker at the Judge Rainbow Memorial Fund, where he assists people who have experienced the criminal justice system.
Ken’s poetry has been translated into several languages. His publications include Ngali Ngalga (1990) and Yimbama (2015). His first major play, 49 Days a Week, was showcased at the Yellamundie National First Peoples Playwriting Festival 2017. He has also written a half-hour film script called Cocky on a Biscuit Tin.
Pony identifies as disabled, transgender (non-binary), fat and pansexual. An interdisciplinary artist, Pony works with sound/vocal performance/experimental composition/performance, art/music/visual poetry, costume and fashion modelling installation and theatre.
Conceptually, Pony’s work aims to subvert dominant culture by not waiting for permission to take up space in disciplines and practices that are reserved for the most privileged. Pony asks how individuals want to be seen versus how they are read by the dominant culture, usually as ‘other’.
Pony worked part-time as Creative Project Assistant on SNDCLSH, an accessible sound and visual workshop/mentorship. Pony recently facilitated a fashion show called Dressage, where models identifying as trans, fat and disabled, modelled clothing in an equestrian dressage routine.
Pony believes in a ‘nothing about us, without us approach’ and wants to support and build relationships through conversation and collaboration.
Louise Kate Anderson
Louise is a Sydney-based multi-disciplinary artist working predominantly with socially-engaged art and community collaboration, as well as being an activist, arts worker and producer in the arts and disability sector. Her work is mainly experimental practice or print-making based focusing on myriad issues from landfill reduction to reducing the stigma of mental illness. She has recently exhibited her work in Click 2015, Brunswick Street Gallery, Melbourne, the Future Feminist Archive Report, The Cross Art Projects, Sydney, 2016 ARI Sydney Show, ARTICULATE, Sydney, Future Projects: For What do we Stand? Brunswick Street Gallery, Melbourne and is in the upcoming Skeletons and Self Portraits, 29 July 2017 PACT Salon, Sydney.
Much of Louise’s curatorial projects and ideas, especially through relational aesthetics, centre on her hope that eventually access initiatives such as audio description, braille, and Auslan interpretation will be valued and celebrated as genuine, necessary features of the arts and cultural experience.
Richard is a poet, photographer and mental health activist. He has published poems in the Schizophrenia Fellowship NSW, Annual Poetry Journal 2017, Vibewire.org, UK journal, Poetry Space, Verity La, Wollondilly Ink and Conexoz, a magazine created for and by people with experience of mental health issues. He was commissioned to write for the public artwork project, Poetry: The Indelible Stencil, a region-wide project in NSW coordinated by Lizz Murphy in partnership with Southern Tablelands Arts. He promoted Poetry: the Indelible Stencil by touring and performing his poetry in local libraries.
In 2013, Richard was awarded a Professional Development Grant through Accessible Arts to develop a collection of poetry, The Gospel of Schizophrenia, published in 2015. The poems offer an autobiographical insight into Richard’s experience of mental illness and his time in South Australia working as a grape-picker.
Richard creates poetical photographs, some of which have been featured in Campbelltown Arts Centre, Fairfield City Museum and Art Gallery and NSW Parliament House.
Paula has been a consumer worker based in Northern Sydney Health since January 1998. As Manager, Consumer Services, Paula’s role includes individual and systemic advocacy, peer support and group work, consultation and liaison with consumers, staff orientation and education and mental health promotion. She has also worked for the Mental Health Association NSW Inc. and New Horizons Enterprises.
Paula is a Surveyor for the Australian Council on Health Care Standards reviewing services across Australia, is a member of The MHS Learning Network Management Committee, is the Deputy Chair of the NSW Consumer Workers Committee and a Director for the Flourish Australia Board. Paula is co-founder and facilitator of a monthly group called No Suppression which provides a safe and empowering space for people to share their creative self through music, poetry, art, comedy or just sharing their recovery story.
Paula has a BA majoring in Psychology, and together with her lived experience and personal recovery journey contributes to the progression of mental health reform in Australia.