UK artist, choreographer beat disabilities, spread hope
March 21 2013 11:44 PM
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Rachel and Claire interact with the audience.
Rachel and Claire interact with the audience.


By Zia Khan /Staff Reporter


Around two dozen men and women had to hold their breath to believe what was unfolding before them on a windy evening at Katara, Doha.
They witnessed the creation of a work of art, but not just any work of art. What left them awestruck was that the artist involved was not an ordinary person.
Rachel Gadsden, an award-winning visually-impaired artist from the UK, stunned the audience with her gifted capabilities. She jumped onto the stage with all the confidence in the world, had a good look at the giant canvas in front of her and was at work immediately.
Holding brushes in her left hand and bowls of colours in the right, Rachel did not let her audience feel even for a second that she had a physical limitation that many people would find hard to deal with.
Red, black, white, yellow, camel, purple and sky blue - soon, all colours started making an amalgam on the canvas and a piece of art was in the making. When it finally got a shape, it was greeted with applause from the audience.
“I can feel more than I can see…and that is enough for me,” the artist told her fans immediately after displaying the talent, explaining how she rebuilt her life after losing eyesight due to a lung problem six years ago.
The inspiration provided by Rachel for people with physical limitations was redoubled by a Scottish artiste who overpowered disability to become an acclaimed choreographer and multi-disciplinary performer.
Claire Cunningham has emerged as one of the world’s renowned artistes through the imaginative and dynamic use of crutches, which she has lived with for her entire life due to a disability.
The Glasgow-based artiste used to be a singer trained in classical music before a choreographer inspired her to become a performer. “It was accidental, I never planned it. Once it started, I never looked back,” she said of her career as a performer.
Rachel and Claire were in the city to exhibit their talent at the Arts and Disability Festival organised by the British Council and the Ministry of Culture as part of Qatar UK 2013, which is being celebrated to foster relations between the two countries.
The two-week festival that started on March 15 features the works of artists and performers from both countries with physical limitations.
The objective behind the idea, explained one of the organisers, is to encourage people with disabilities not to lose heart in the face of what happens to them and keep putting up a fight to get their share out of life.
On how to rebuild one’s life after a tragedy, Rachel said: “There is an artist in everybody…it is only when we manage to discover it...you need to feel things than just see them for that.”





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