Zita Holbourne




Chained but still standing together (1)

Rights Not Games no 1(2)

Rights Not Games no 2 (3)

Still Rising (4)

Zita Holbourne

Zita Holbourne is an award winning visual artist, curator, writer, author, poet and a community and trade union activist. She is the founder of the Roots Culture Identity art exhibition and collective, creating a platform for  the art of predominantly young, black and migrant artists.

Zita was twice a finalist in the South Bank Show arts competition.

Her art has been used for political, community  and trade union campaigns, posters, leaflets, placards , flyers , websites, book covers  and book and journal  illustrations.  She was commissioned to produce a poster for the TUC Stephen Lawrence Appeal and her art has been used for the Palestine Solidarity Campaign joining form.

Zita’s new book of poetry Striving for Equality Freedom and Justice also features her art. She exhibits at a broad range of political ,community and equality focused events.

Austerity has had a devastating impact on disabled people, effectively a breach of human rights. As the co-founder of Black Activists Rising Against Cuts, I am very conscious of the double impact of cuts on black disabled people. I applaud & welcome the opportunity to work with DPAC to expose the fact that we are demonised and treated as second class citizens as a result and to stand up to disability discrimination”.


Facebook: Zita Poet Artist


Maze of Life- Vicki Orton

The Maze of Life

Vickie Orton

Vickie Orton has chosen the theme of a maze to reflect the experience of working your way through the benefit system: It’s like navigating a maze, so often you’re faced with dead ends or turnings that look promising but lead nowhere.”

The blanket that forms the background to the work was made in the local mill where Orton’s great-grandmother, great aunt, great uncle and grandmother all worked. The pieces are felted using wool representing the local woollen industry.

The first maze is a representation of how shoddily disabled people are treated under the current system. It’s impossible to work your way through this maze, there are many obstacles in the way including several staircases – an obvious barrier to a wheelchair user.

The monochrome colour scheme illustrates the claims process, but for the majority of people the impact of disability on their daily life is not black and white. The second maze represents the positive contributions that disabled people make to society. All the lines on the maze join up together at some point representing the links and support that disabled people both give and receive within the community.

The bright colours reflect the many facets of life. The choice of colours, some with sparkle running through, illustrate the vitality and richness of an inclusive society.



See also

Storytelling Coat – Lesley Illingworth

Story Telling Coat

Lesley Illingworth

Lesley Illingworth’s story telling coat is a powerful way to tell her truth and confront the lies.  The outer coat of purple extols the strengths of disabled people, such as strength, patience, intuition.

The lining, however, tells a different story. MPs’ names are partnered with the name of a disabled person from Calum’s List a memorial to deceased benefit claimants, where welfare reform is alleged to have had some culpability for their deaths.

Lesley Illingworth draws on her extensive experience, as a disabled woman, of the medical and political systems, and particularly their impact on disabled people. Illingworth is Interested in how policy and decision-making is affected by the educational, familial and psychological powerbase of authority figures.

I have become acutely aware of the storytelling spin and lies political organisations use to further their own causes. Attempting to rewrite a story with no illness, disability, powerlessness or vulnerability, rewriting the story believing they can cure and change illness and disability with hard work. But of course they cannot effect this change.”

Current policies further humiliate and abuse disabled people in an attempt to kill them off and make them disappear. I have recently been evicted from my home and placed in temporary accommodation, with complete disregard for my illness and disability, as there is inadequate social housing available.”




See more at

Twitter: @lesley_illingworth

See also and

Atos Protest Armband – Liz Crow

Atos Protest Armband (2012)

Liz Crow

French IT firm Atos was contracted by the Tory-led coalition government, at a cost of £112.4m, to administer the notorious Work Capability Assessment (WCA). Designed to cut the national spend on social security, the WCA has led to the deaths of thousands of disabled people, with many more experiencing serious distress and poverty. Combined with government and press rhetoric against disabled people and benefits claimants, hate crime against disabled people has skyrocketed. At the London Paralympic Games in 2012, Atos became an official sponsor.

Artist Liz Crow took the fight against Atos into the heart of the Games, wearing a homemade anti-Atos black armband stating: Atos kills’. In doing so, she took up the battle cry of activists working nationwide to protest the WCA. The image of the armband against a backdrop of the Olympic stadium was widely circulated online raising awareness, provoking discussion and affirming the accounts of disabled people.

Liz says, “While Atos was getting public kudos for sponsoring the Paralympics, behind closed doors they were wilfully wrecking people’s lives. The idea of the Paralympic ‘superhuman’ was being used to whip up vitriol against disabled people – and Atos was profiting from both.




Liz Crow is an artist-activist. In Bedding Out (2012), a durational performance responding to the benefits overhaul, Liz took to her bed in a gallery, holding bedside conversations with members of the public about the issues raised by the work. Bedding Out was livestreamed to nearly 10,000 people in over 50 countries. Figures (2015) was a mass-sculptural performance that made visible the human cost of austerity, urging action against it. Taking up residence on the streets and foreshore of central London for 11 days and nights in the run up to the UK general election, Liz sculpted 650 small human figures out of raw river mud, one for every parliamentary constituency, with each figure representing an individual at the sharp end of austerity.


Photo credit: River Crow/Roaring Girl Productions

Vince Laws – Mental Helmet

My Mental Helmet

Vince Laws

Vince Laws made My Mental Helmet as a response to a call-out for visual representations of mental health experience. Imagine wearing a crash helmet 24/7. The poem was longer but had to be cut, brutally, as it was being painted, so it would all fit on the helmet.

Vince is HIV+ and deals with fluctuating fatigue, depression, stress and anxiety. He has been protesting the Work Capability Assessment since 2010.

“I want these Work Capability Assessment’s to stop. They are very stressful. It’s like I can’t do anything while in this process, the uncertainty is so great. Will they stop my benefits without warning as they did before? Make me appeal, fill out forms, and jump through hoops that the government itself has accepted are not fit for purpose, especially for those with mental health issues and fluctuating symptoms. It’s very cruel. The process itself traumatises me year on year, again and again. It’s like breaking someone’s leg every year to check they can’t walk. It’s madness. That can’t be right or helpful.”

My Mental Helmet

is safer darker heavier

harder to communicate

here I am alone


insulated from the throng

crying in car parks

round and round 

ripples in a goldfish bowl

but you can’t sleep

when you think about it…


See more of Vince’s work at and Disability Arts Online

Dandifest – The Movie

The Norwich Dandies is a group of contemporary artists, poets and performers who first came together at St Margaret’s Church of Art on St Benedict’s Street, Norwich, in May 2010.

This film, ‘Dandifest The Movie’, commissioned by the Dandies, shows the 2014 launch, highlighting the work of Vince Laws, Eloise O’Hare, Christina Sabberton, Ann Nicholls, and Dugald Ferguson.

Within the 6 minute film Vince performs the poem My Mental Helmet.

The film was made by Shelly Telly, aka Michelle Savage.

The next Dandifest is being planned for April/May 2017.

Dandifest brought so many people together to celebrate art, creativity and diversity. Norwich has not had anything like this for a long, time. It made art accessible; not just in terms of physical access, which was acknowledged, but culturally. I saw people walk past and then come back to investigate, amazed at what they saw. St Margaret’s Church of Art is a shrine to those artists who still believe in the community approach of bringing art to everyone.

Ann Young, Disability Arts Online

Independent art by people who have the cultural enrichment of society as one of their evident aims is something everyone can get involved in, for their subject matter is us and everyone and their art is about our lives, our dreams and our dressing-up boxes.

Marcus Dickey Horley, Tate Modern


See more of Vince’s work at and Disability Arts Online

Alice – Work Capability Assessment – Vince Laws


Alice: Work Capability Assessment

Vince Laws

Vince Laws has taken illustrations by John Tenniel, from Lewis Carroll’s Through The Looking-Glass And What Alice Found There, and updated them with 21st century speech bubbles. Here, The Walrus & The Carpenter have led the innocent oysters along the beach, with offers of ‘a pleasant walk, a pleasant talk’, only to sit on a rock and eat the lot.

“We must help you all back into work…” says the Walrus.

“Yes! Fill out this form…” says the Carpenter, offering a Work Capability Assessment form.

“Work Capability Assessments are an outrage. How dare healthy wealthy people devise state sanction torture for people with disabilities. This is harassment at the very least, and has led to much increased suffering, and many early deaths, including hundreds of suicides. The DWP and Iain Duncan Smith have done all they can to hide the numbers of people dying, but one day he and others will be in court facing charges and I intend to do everything I can to help bring that about as soon as possible.”


See more of Vince’s work at and Disability Arts Online