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Art & Soul Member Spotlight - Lesley Illingworth

Artwork from Lesley Illingworth’s 'Artists and Disability Oppression: Up Close and Intensive' exhibition


Recently, Art & Soul participant Lesley Illingworth presented her exhibition 'Artists and Disability Oppression: Up Close and Intensive' in The Houses of Parliament.


A fine art textile artist and disabled activist, Illingworth's works were displayed to MPs between the 3rd and 10th May, following the project's pop-up appearance at Folkestone's Brewery Tap in 2023.


To celebrate this momentous achievement, Art & Soul spoke to Illingworth about her art-making process, inspirations, and her proudest moments throughout her art journey.


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What are your earliest memories of art-making?


"The colouring table in my primary school. It was a very creative place introducing painting, crayoning and music to me."


What/who inspires you the most when it comes to your creativity?


"All textiles.


Arts Related Twelve Steps - a twelve step fellowship I found in London in the early 90s.


Julia Cameron - All her books. I met her in London while she was writing 'Vein of Gold'. She took 3 months in London to write a book. I was amazed that anyone could clear their diary and move country to make space to create.


Shiloh Sophia McCloud, MUSEA University.


SARK - All her books, especially 'Change Your Life Without Getting Out Of Bed'.


Amber Kuileimailani Bonnici, Creativity Unleashed, and Women Unleashed workshops, Elizabeth Foley & Radiant Earth Studios."


How would you describe your artistic process?


Intuitive and emotive. I get out of the way and create.


Could you tell us a little more about your recent exhibition?


"'Artists and Disability Oppression: Up Close and Intensive' was in the House of Commons from the 6 to 10th May 2024 to discuss these two oppressions with parliamentarians."


What has been your biggest accomplishment as an artist so far?


"Taking my 'Story Telling Coat' into Tate Modern in a guerrilla exhibition with Arts4rights and Disabled People Against Cuts in 2016, and getting a close-up of it in an Observer article by Frances Ryan - https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/apr/03/disabled-artists-use-skills-to-highlight-shoddy-treatment-over-benefits


How has Art & Soul helped you on your artistic journey?


During the COVID-19 lockdowns and time afterwards, the Art & Soul Zoom classes helped me to feel connected with other artists and create art when I was totally isolated because of my chronic illness and vulnerability.


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We'd like to thank Lesley for sharing her story with us, and for helping make Art & Soul such a wonderful, thriving creative community.


Art & Soul's in-person sessions are set to return on Thursday 13th June, if you are interested in joining these sessions, please contact Maddy on maddy.howell@artandsoul.org.uk.

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