Speaker 1 00:00:05 Hello and welcome to today's episode of Accessibility and Me. I'm Man Stein from World Holloway University of London, and I co-host this podcast with one Brunai from Ivy Business School in Canada, and Luke Kauflin, also from Gu Holloway.
Speaker 2 00:00:21 Our guest today is Henry Fraser, mouth artist, public speaker, and best selling author.
Speaker 3 00:00:28 Henry. Thanks very much for joining us today. Could you talk a little bit first about your work as an artists?
Speaker 4 00:00:34 Yeah, my pleasure. Thanks for having me on as well. Absolutely pleasure. Yeah, I mean art is, um, I mean it's, I have enjoyed my whole life and I started again off Max since painting, using by holding tens to my mouth back in Jan 2015. It was, and it's kind of been a bit of a mad seven years in that time. It's been been able to do some pretty cool things with it. I've been able to kind of, you know, used, it's become my life now. It's become my living and I'm kind of very lucky to see that. And you know, I really enjoy it. It's kind of always a new challenge. It's always something, always try and do something different and try and push myself in different ways, which, which I really enjoy. It's a good thing about, the thing I really enjoy about art is that you, you don't have to always stick to the same line. You can kind of veer off and, and try something new and be creative and challenge your mind and not stick with the same thing over and over again. And yeah, I mean with my work I think that's what I try and do and you know, whether it doesn't work, it doesn't work. Like I know what does and you know, it allows me to explore different avenues.
Speaker 3 00:01:30 Have you found the art world accessible to you as a disabled person?
Speaker 4 00:01:35 Yeah, I mean, finding the stuff, the uh, kind of equipment online wasn't too much of a task. The, you know, the mouse sticks I use are readily available. I mean, Amazon is the easiest place to be honest, to, to get them. And yeah, it was quite easy. And you know, a lot of the equipment, everything else is just normal, normal stuff that anyone else uses. Um, I do have a special easel that was very kindly, uh, geared to me by a company called Lucky, which you know, is a kind of one clamp to the edge of the table. It's got underneath that put on and a vertical that, you know, I just put my card or paper, whatever, whatever I'm painting on against. And um, yeah, apart from that, social media as well been a godsend for me and how I promote myself and my art and everything else.
Speaker 4 00:02:19 I, so yeah, I mean I can access all those things by myself and ran like so, so far it's been, it's been right. I'm kind of wandering into too many obstacles. It's one of those things, you know, that I've got to kind of keep on myself, self-promotion, you know, kind of deep down that's not me, that's not what I do. But I know that to sell my staff is, is what I've gotta do. And I think it's the best way in and it's the best way to access it is through, you know, Twitter and Instagram and, and Facebook and those avenues and really explore that hard, you know, it's not always easy to get out and actually physically sell the work. So that's the way I've got to, that's the way I've got to someone.
Speaker 3 00:02:54 Looking back to March, 2020, where were you at the start of the pandemic and how did Life Change?
Speaker 4 00:02:59 I was still living at home at that point, my parents and then, yeah, suddenly when I got into the news game and Lockdowns happening, to be honest, it wasn't a huge, wasn't a huge change from my day to day life, huge number and say, well people don't get out a lot the time. So we were kind of used to that environment and being at home a lot and working or you know, trying to keep busy or with whatever it is. The only issue that obviously is then a lot of disabled people experience is that it meant that though going out suddenly means so much more. Those times you are out with friends or family or you know, wherever you are going, those moments are kind of far bigger memories than able bodied people who can go out every single day and you kind of do what they want really.
Speaker 4 00:03:42 And so, you know, that was a, that was a challenge, but early on I decided to um, kind of with, I did, its kind of something I learned in hospital, I taught myself and I kind of every my day to day life is not kind of looking too far ahead, not kind of planning for an end goal or end game all the time. Cuz you know, certain things, especially a pandemic, you have no idea when that's gonna end and the further that gets away and the more overwhelming it can be and it can kind of stretch and stretch and stretch and then it stretches your patience and your frustration, all those things. So I decided to just kind of take it, you know, day by day pretty much two day by two day and just kind of plan my day, do something, plan, go sit outside for a bit or read for a bit or paint for a bit or whatever it is.
Speaker 4 00:04:28 I planned it and then when it got to the weekend, I kind of just used it as a work week just working at home and you know, that worked for me and has worked for me since. I mean I've barely left home since I have moved house in that time, but you know, it was six months before I even left my house. It went anywhere. It was the last two I for my birthday this year in February. It was the first restaurant or bar, kind of any public space I've been to in two years. It's um, you know, I've had just to contest a lot but I've been very lucky that I've been able to continue with my Al and Do talks and you know, Zoom, Zoom's created a wonderfully accessible world. Um, oddly the Pandemic was arguably the most accessible. The world's been ever suddenly. You know, we could attend theaters, we could watch films, we could deal with these things or without having to worry about access or any of those things or you know, booking ahead and finding out, you know, something's not sorted for the other end. So I just kinda hope all that work continues.
Speaker 3 00:05:28 I think you touched upon it a little bit with your last answer, but what new opportunities and challenges did the pandemic bring? Uh, both personally and in terms of work?
Speaker 4 00:05:36 Yeah, so up until the Pandemic, cause my second book was coming out in May, 2020, the kind of back end of 2019 start 2020. I didn't really paint. I didn't really have a chance. There's lot kind of final book editing and then preparing for interviews and all the press stuff that was gonna come along with it. And the moment lockdown happened, suddenly I had this freedom to, to actually paint and do something which I really enjoyed. And suddenly I was, I felt like, you know, why, why aren't I gonna myself just from at home not doing anything? Why aren't I still challenge myself my with my art And I was trying, you know, different color accommodations, different ways of painting, different and you know, it allowed me freedom to do that and it's been kind of worked out, you know, really well for me in that way.
Speaker 4 00:06:25 Um, so, you know, yeah, it's not been all bad. It's not been all doom and gloom and I don't want, and I never want to look at it that way either. It's been, I look at kind of what I've been able to do through and I've handled myself through and you know, I've still been able to give talks just not in front of people just far I assume, you know, long way that continued for those that especially can't, can't get out, you know, things like that. So yeah, it's not been a huge change but in many ways it's kind of allowed me to explore myself and my creativity a bit
Speaker 3 00:06:56 More. You talked a little bit about how the world was becoming suddenly more accessible like as a result of the pandemic because of, you know, all of these things were happening on Zoom and happening online when previously they were happening in person. But do you have any perception of those kind of opportunities continuing or do you feel like it's going back to how it was before a little bit more?
Speaker 4 00:07:16 I think certain bits, especially in statement industry, kind of moving back to how it was, I kind of hope it doesn't go all the way back. It still should, it still should be accessible. It takes a lot of theaters, especially for wheelchair users aren't accessible. I don't wanna talk on behalf of kind of any other odd people that, you know, experience it in a different way. But for wheelchair users I've found it to be, to be honest, a right pain most of the time. So allowing that, having that be able to like experience that through a stream or something would, would be amazing. I think they should look at it and look at it as a different avenue, not a and not a negative thing. Not suddenly, oh they won't appreciate. People will and people want to be disabled, people want to be out there experiencing these things but they can't always.
Speaker 4 00:07:58 And, and I think the thing that I've think has stuck so far is, is work work has definitely become more flexible and you know, accessibility and fatigue is one of the biggest kind barriers of, for disabled people of disabled disclose it, look at them kind of not as very ably as someone who's able bodied or because then they have to, you know, be open and honest about their levels of fatigue or what they can and cannot do from certain days or at certain times. I don't think anyone should be made to feel that way. It's, we've seen how flexible work can be everyone's had to do pretty much in kind of most sectors people have had to work from home via Zoom. You can meet, you can talk, you can do these things and in long way that continue because then you get way more disabled people employment, several people are much more honest and open to um, employers about their disability and you know, long way that continue because the greater understanding people have the kind of more welcoming, the more accessible the world will become.
Speaker 3 00:09:02 You're quite active on social media. Do you think social media is increasing the visibility of disabled people in public life and do you see social media as a good platform for disability activism?
Speaker 4 00:09:14 I mean, yeah, I've been def I think especially now, you know, with the last few years or so we've seen a big change in, in understanding of other people's stories, whether, you know, whether it's gender, sexuality, race, all these things. And it's great and I think social media play a big part in that. Yes, there is a lot of negatives that comes with it, but you know, that's gonna happen in the real world anyways. The art you just got, people just kind of have to learn the art of ignoring those things or blocking them and just not replying to them or you know, whatever. But it opens conversations and it, it makes people far more visible and you know, I never, whenever I put something out there, I never try and hide my disability because it is, you know, it's a huge part of me and my life and what everything I'm doing now is, is through that and because of it.
Speaker 4 00:10:01 And I think kind of the more honest people are about those things online. Great. And I do see it more and more I see a lot of people kind of being more honest about not just kind of the good side of things about what they're doing but you know, the black accessibility or how they get treated and things. And I think it's very important that people get that in their minds and and and are able to see that often and you know, there's some wonderful uh, disability rights activists out there who share their day to day lives and it's given me a far greater understanding of other disabilities as well and you know, just cause I'm saying well myself doesn't mean I suddenly know no at all and I don't I everyone to think that way and I'm learning a lot from it and I think other people should do as well.
Speaker 3 00:10:41 Great, thank you. And just as a final question, what do you have planned for the future and the next couple years?
Speaker 4 00:10:47 That is, um, yeah, that's a good question. I've, uh, well I moved out, I moved into my own place back in December so I'm still kind of, I guess I'm kind of pretty settled now but then there's still be a bit of time still get things right. It's kinda a whole new situation for me. And I mean I've got an exhibition coming up in September as well, so that's kind the planning. That's up until September after that I'll probably rest of it cuz it's always, it's always a bit of a killer and then next year it's honest. I dunno, I think I need to find something else state. But yeah, I mean I dunno what's gonna come my way in the future. I dunno kind of what, you know, what opportunities might come towards me. I, again, I don't plan huge usually far ahead in case something else pops up that I really want to do or try or get an opportunity that, you know, reinterest me, I want to keep some space open that I can, I do have that option. So yeah, to honest, kind of cut a long answer short, which I get pretty long. Um, I'm not sure to be, but I've a few things planned and I'm just gonna, what happens to
Speaker 3 00:11:47 All the best with Henry. It's really interesting. Thanks for coming.
Speaker 4 00:11:52 Pleasure. Thank you.
Speaker 1 00:11:58 Thank you very much for listening to today's episode of Accessibility in Me. We hope you enjoyed it and will tune into our next episode. We would like to thank the British Academy for funding today's episode site.