The University’s Artist in Residence, Jon Adams, has been awarded a prestigious fellowship by the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts(RSA).
RSA fellows inspire innovative thinking, enable positive change and support each other to tackle the challenges of the 21st century. Jon was nominated for his work and commitment to raising positive awareness about Aspergers syndrome, with which he has dealt his entire life. He dedicates considerable time to speaking about how his condition has not prevented him pursuing his dream to become an artist and working with disabled young people on art projects to inspire them to follow their own dreams.
Jon said: “I have wanted to be an artist since I was six years old but I never thought that I would become an RSA a fellow. All my life I’ve felt like an outsider so it means a great deal to be part of a network of like-minded people.
“At school I was told I would never amount to anything and I’ve spent the rest of my life proving them wrong. The recognition by the RSA is something I can be truly proud of.”
Jon’s latest art project, Look About, is part of the Cultural Olympiad, a cultural celebration of the history of the modern Olympic and Paralympic Movements. It is a two year creative research initiative which encourages people, especially deaf and disabled people and those from creative, arts and cultural organisations, to document their experiences of London 2012. Jon collects, captures and interprets the material and maps their experiences in a geological pattern. He has also spent two years documenting over one million minutes of his own life which will eventually become a geological map.
As a trained field geologist, palaeontologist and skilled artist, Jon has vast experience in investigating, mapping and presenting diverse patterns of data. His Aspergers makes him highly observant, a collector by nature and an authentic detailer. During his time spent with artists and practitioners – in studios, rehearsals, interviews, workshops and performances – he will be hunting for specific elements but also uncovering the hidden and unexpected.
He said: “Like geological strata, I’m interested in the layers of people’s lives and what lies under the surface. I hope the project will spark a cultural shift in attitude towards disability in the arts.”
“Look About is one of the most complex art projects in the Cultural Olympiad and I feel privileged that it’s been awarded the esteemed London 2012 branding.”