In anticipation of becoming an independent organisation, arts commissioning programme Unlimited will set up its new base in Wakefield. Unlimited is the largest supporter of disabled artists worldwide and has awarded £4.7 million to over 400 ambitious artists.
To celebrate its arrival, Unlimited has commissioned Wakefield Artist Mohammad Barrangi to create a new mural in the city and made a film: ‘Unlimited moves to Wakefield’.
Currently led by senior producer Jo Verrent and delivered by Shape Arts and Artsadmin, Unlimited supports disabled artists to create and present their work across all art forms.
Mohammad Barrangi is an Iranian artist and Paralympian who recently graduated from the London Drawing School. His work often explores his own disability together with influences from Persian miniature painting and personal stories told in intricate detail, and sometimes humour. The Wakefield mural, supported by The Art House, is located near Wakefield Cathedral in a passageway that is used by a wide cross-section of people.
The mural is about travelling and migration. Barrangi depicts five female faces in the mural including the Iranian queen and the artist’s friend in Iran. He paints many of the figures with just one arm because the artist himself has “just one arm”.
Mohammad said “I think, for me, Unlimited is like my family and they are very good for all disabled artists. Making this mural has been very new for me because previously, when I have worked at the British Museum or Tate Modern it’s been for installations, it’s been inside. I think this mural reflects my life and it’s interesting because after we put the mural on the wall by the cathedral I received many messages from British people and refugees about it. I hope for the future I would have another project like that, outdoor work. Honestly, I am really busy with artwork right now - for Arts Council, a solo show in Paris, a piece in Los Angeles – I’m just working, working, working. Unlimited is my family and not a small family, it’s a big family, linking artists who are disabled across the whole of the UK and further. I think the future is good for Unlimited in Wakefield - and that’s good for me actually!”
The mural is the first project Unlimited has commissioned in Wakefield, and it is part of a UK-wide commissioning programme that has given opportunities for disabled artists nationally to develop and make new work.
Michael Graham, cabinet member for Culture, Leisure and Sport at Wakefield said: “Arts and culture are extremely important to Wakefield and so is making sure that arts, culture and everything that’s included are inclusive and open to everyone. Unlimited has an amazing record of supporting, funding and promoting the artwork of disabled people across the UK. They have enabled artwork from disabled artists to tell many important stories, to reach millions of people in the UK and internationally, shaping society. We are absolutely delighted that Unlimited is to be making their new home in the Wakefield district and, as a council, we are very much looking forward to working with them to help deliver for the people of Wakefield and help to increase the representation of disabled people in every way possible.”
Unlimited is recruiting a range of new roles from freelance financial and communications managers to a new senior producer, administrator, finance and communications officer. Unlimited’s base will be in Wakefield but it will also have a geographically dispersed workforce which means people can work for Unlimited from anywhere in the UK.
Jo Verrent, senior producer, Unlimited said: “We are thrilled to be setting up home in Wakefield especially as we are surrounded by some excellent arts organisations that we can connect with to support disabled artists further. Yorkshire is a great base for us to provide support, funding and promote new work by disabled artists for UK and international audiences. We look forward to getting to know both the people and places of Wakefield so we can genuinely add traction to our new home - supporting, partnering and creating new opportunities for disabled people as audiences, participants and, of course, artists.”
As an Arts Council England-funded programme, Unlimited will be connecting, collaborating and partnering with local organisations like The Hepworth Wakefield and The Art House.
Abi Shapiro, assistant curator, The Hepworth said: “I welcome Unlimited to Wakefield. Our gallery is delighted that Unlimited is joining our thriving cultural scene and we look forward to future collaborations. Unlimited has a fantastic reputation as a disabled led organisation that leads the sector on accessibility and inclusivity. We are excited to learn from their expertise and to work with a wide range of visual artists and we hope together to create new opportunities for all artists in the Wakefield district drawing on their strong artistic networks.”
Jen Garrick, marketing and communications director, The Art House said: “The Art House welcomes Unlimited to Wakefield and we are excited that Unlimited is going to be based here. The Art House was founded by a group of disabled and non-disabled artists who wanted to create a space where they could work together in parity, and so we are pleased we can get a chance to work alongside Unlimited to enable us to do even more of that here in Wakefield and continue that great legacy.”
Sarah Maxfield, area director North, Arts Council England said: “The Arts Council is passionate about breaking down barriers that prevent everyone being able to participate in and experience quality arts and culture, and the work that Unlimited does in supporting disabled artists helps us achieve this aim. I’m delighted that Unlimited is making its new home in Wakefield which has some exciting plans to develop the new Market Hall into a creative industries hub as well as some fantastic arts and cultural organisations based in the city. I look forward to seeing how its plans develop as well as Mohammad Barrangi’s new mural.”
To celebrate its arrival, the Unlimited team have created a film ‘Unlimited moves to Wakefield’ with key individuals and organisations expressing what they feel Unlimited will bring to Wakefield district. The film is available in multiple accessible formats and can be watched on Unlimited’s website from 26 October.
Unlimited have also supported ‘Breathing Room’ by disabled artist Anna Berry, a kinetic light installation which can be seen at WordFest at WX this October.