DASH Curatorial Commission Project

Proposal by Deaf Explorer CIC


In November 2018, Deaf Explorer organised a gathering called “DIY Diversity” for Deaf visual artists exploring curating. The event was popular and 34 visual artists visited Birmingham from around England. The keynote speech was by G. who was “agent for change” at Attenborough Arts Centre in 2017/18. He curated the highly successful DeStress Fest, that was artist led and focused on Mental Health.

G.’s presentation was packed with jargon. This demonstrated the difference between English academic language and British Sign Language.   All agreed this was dis-empowering but agreed that understanding the new terms for working together as “curators” was key to creating change in thinking and change in artistic practice; that would better prepare Deaf artists for the visual arts world.

After his presentation G. facilitated a workshop, that gave Deaf artist’s the opportunity to unpack G.’s talk. The workshop has informed this proposal, along with the will to set up a collective of Deaf visual artists, called “Delay” The name arrives from Deaf photographer “Becky Bailey” who described the “delay” for Deaf artists to receive and understand information fully, about arts opportunities.  Artists told their stories. Artists described communication difficulties and isolation. We learnt about all the issues facing Deaf artists and we learnt that full inclusion for Deaf artists, is one of the remaining challenges for equality.

This proposal aims to demonstrate an artistic intention, rather than an access intention and will position a small cohort of successful Deaf artists as leaders working together as a collective. Moving from individual purpose to collective purpose. They will uproot convention both in Deaf arts, disability arts and the visual arts.  They will Explorer the role of artists as “agency” raising the value of arts and demonstrate that art changes and saves lives!

It is anticipated that the Curatorial Commission project will develop many of the ideas seeded by the curator G.s presentation and provide significant structure for this to happen. Deaf explorers’ network will also provide a significant number of artists new to the Deaf, disability and visual arts sector.


Three artists that are based in the West Midlands that attended and presented at “DIY Diversity” for Deaf visual want to apply to the Curatorial Commission project.  In the spirit of the gathering they will apply as a collective of artists, and participe in the exciting learning and development programme at mac.

All the artists use access to work, so interpreter and note taker costs will be paid by the Department of work and pensions.

They will explore “Roles”

  • Consider the role of artist
  • Consider the role of the curator
  • Artist as curator
  • Curator as artist


  • John Finn – Digital and visual artist
  • Maral Mamaghani – jeweller and performance artist
  • Rinkoo Barpaga – street photographer and story teller

All are culturally deaf and use British Sign Language. All tell stories. All use more than one art form.

All have an interest in the artist having a political voice and the subtle ways marginalised people continue to be oppressed, in what appears a just, fair and equal society. This is what the artist have to say!  They believe they can get other artists gathering around this idea, specifically artists whose intention is informed  by some form of lived experience of oppression or discrimination.

The artists hope that during the commission they will learn more about their position in Art History.  They aim to instigate the dismantling of the term “diversity” and “Deaf” and explore new definitions like “Mutualism” & “Respect” so that artists with experiences similar to themselves can come to the table and dismantle definitions and prove artists are experts.

Deaf Artist Collective

Patterns by John Finn

Beginning with the origin of the patterns, Finns Fish.



Dorsa, Tales of Tresses by Maral Mamaghanizadeh

Maral Mamaghani – https://deafexplorer.com/2018/09/30/the-politics-of-voice/

Watch Marals proposal for intervention in art spaces

Watch Marals proposal for working with refugees in art spaces



Street Photography by Rinkoo Barpaga

Performance by Rinkoo Barpaga

Find out about what Rinkoo’s Audience about his storytelling. https://deafexplorer.com/2018/12/13/rinkoo-barpaga-attracts-a-diverse-audience-to-his-performance/

Watch Rinkoo Barpaga describing the diverse range of deaf young people in Birmingham.


Link to film Rinkoo describes in his BSL video about Double Discrimination