CUTTER // NASH ‘ParaOice’ Sound Installation

Now on display, London, Asia House as part of the BodyParts Exhibition (see instagram post below).

A Paralympic parody, The Paraoice is based on a futuristic vocal competition. Through the lens of of post-human, queer and disability theories, this piece examines public perceptions of ‘realness’. Exploring how Paralympic sport has impacted upon society’s views about disability, validity and normativity.

Imagine a 2099 remake of ‘The Voice’ competition.  In this dystopian future, competitors with augmented voices are disqualified.  A lucky few, however, qualify for a parallel competition The Paraoice.  Most people love The Paraoice but some question its eligibility criteria, likening the show to vegan steak.  This in part has been due to the rise in bionic vocal chords….

The audio installation will be experienced through Sonic Pixels – an innovative sound delivery system developed by Cornbrook Creative and James Medd in collaboration with CodeBug.

Like pixels on a screen, this system allows us to create sonic equivalents of brightness, colour and texture as well as an interesting visual representation of our sound art.

Belle and the Bell Curve

Latest instablog about the fantastic sound based workshops I delivered for my Research Residency Heart of Glass.

Highlights from the workshops includes one participant, John, singing a rendition of ‘Michelle my Belle’. This was the first time John had heard a playback of himself singing or speaking. He was astonished!

International Women’s Day

Today I delivered a short presentation for Salford City Council’s IWD2019 staff event. Below is two images from the prezi I made for my speech and my instagram blog about IWD2019.

Other speakers included: Debbie Brown (Director of Service Reform) and Magda Sachs (Principal Policy and Equalities Officer).

Image depicting a mountain. Text at the top reads: D 3 – Democracy Disability and Devolution, Manchester Based Women’s Project, Breakthrough UK – Gemma Nash (Trustee)
Image of a leaf. Text on the leaf reads: Why? According to the Fawcett Society, only two women MPs identify as being disabled people – under half a percent of the House of Commons! 42% of women in Greater Manchester who reported sexual violence were also disabled (Voices of Survivors Project 2018)

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The campaigning theme for International Women’s Day is ‘Balance for Better’. But for many disabled women, our lives are literally ‘Hanging in the Balance’. Last month I learnt a shocking, if not surprising, statistic: 42% of women in Greater Manchester who reported sexual violence were also disabled (Voices of Survivors). . . The safety of women in Greater Manchester is a key area of concern for the newly launched Pankhurst-Fawcett Scorecard. The Scorecard identifies 10 key measurements around gender equality across Education, Employment, Safety, Participation and Culture. Led by Helen Pankhurst and the GM4Women2028 Coalition, the plan is for the data to be compiled and shared annually to 2028 (which is the anniversary of equal franchise). . . One of the biggest reasons why the safety of disabled women has become more of an issue over the last few years is due to cuts in our welfare state (Sisters of Frida). In Greater Manchester, for example, many disabled women have reported a 25% reduction in their social care package, sometimes this has been reduced to 50% or even 0%. . . Unfortunately it is also more common for women to have no other method of funding their own care, making them more at risk. According to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, just under half of disabled women are neither employed nor actively seeking work. . . This is a particularly difficult situation for any women in an abusive relationship, as they can end up forced to rely upon their abusive partner to provide ‘care’. . . Anyone can become a disabled person and I always think it’s worth remembering that our fight for representation and is also your fight, or those before you – many suffragettes, for example, became disabled through their activism. Many ended up incarcerated in institutions alongside other disabled people at that time. So these brave women were again denied the right to vote, because they were disabled. #internationalwomensday #girlpower #womenempowerment #balanceforbetter #events #feminist #women #art #empowerment #feminism #iwd #womeninbusiness #artwork #sdg #celebratingwomen

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Field Recording – Acorn Farm

Gemma Nash using her field recorder, Acorn Farm 2019. Photographer – Michele Selway

Yesterday a visited Acorn Farm. The farm runs a brilliant day service for people with learning disabilities, some of whom will be taking part in my forthcoming sound based workshop. This workshop is part of the research for my Heart of Glass residency.

Working alongside technologist Kris Gjerstad, we will be focusing on different ways of communication and challenging perceptions about who who is allowed to speak. We will also be exploring the work I have been doing with Gareth Cutter, i.e. the voice in fairytales and future ways of talking.

Gemma Nash with the lively group from Acorn Farm, 2019

Whilst I was at the farm I recorded some sound using my newly purchased Zoom H5 Recorder. Here is a short sound mix from the field recordings I made during my visit!

Research Residency

Gemma Nash speaking about her work for the Heart of Glass team, 2019

Last week I delivered a presentation about my arts practice for Heart of Glass. Heart of Glass are an arts organisation based in St Helens with a focus on collaborative and social arts practice. They recently commissioned me to work on a research residency which will take place from February to April 2019.

Working alongside Emily Gee (Heart of Glass Producer) and local disabled people, I will be investigating new possibilities of articulations beyond traditional art world paradigms.

I will also be exploring issues of power, voices and intersectionality through collaborative workshops, studio time and research visits.

Gemma Nash at Heart of Glass talking about Beyond Vocal Norms collaboration with Gareth Cutter!

Watch this space for more blogs about this exciting action research.

One from the Archives

BBC article from 14 years ago (gulp) about my ‘Old Skool’ club night Virtual Itch and the club’s resident disabled DJs.

“He lifts the needle onto the record, throws the record down and up to mix it into the next record using his chin, and then manipulates the controls using his mouth – it’s gobsmacking. The women just love him!”

Did I really say that ?! Cringe.

For the full article, click on the link below:

Disabled DJs on the decks

by Nuala Calvi, 13th February 2005.

British Music Collection Interview

A while ago I was interviewed by the very talented Irish composer Ailís Ní Ríain for the British Music Collection – a collaborative project between Sound and Music and Huddersfield University.

Today I stumbled across this interview on the BMC website …

The focus of this interview is the Manchester based digital story-teller and sound-artist, Gemma Nash. I became aware of Gemma when she interviewed for a place on Sound and Music’s Pathways Programme. I was on the interviewing panel and was intrigued by the strong political and social narrative in her sound work….

You can read the full article here:

https://britishmusiccollection.org.uk/article/interview-sound-artist-gemma-nash

My visit to the House of Lords

Today I attended an event at the House of Lords to celebrate Voicebox Cafés work supporting underrepresented women to participate in public life.

As a sound artist I have worked in some eccentric places but none quite as grand as the House of Lords! 

I was there in my capacity as a BreakthroughUK Trustee to help promote their new Manchester based women’s project – D3 (Democracy Disability & Devolution).

There were lots of interesting speakers at the celebration talking about a wide range of empowering projects.  I was particularly impressed by the young women from Manchester’s Women Making History project talking passionately about international and domestic ‘period poverty’.  This was a subject I briefly touched upon in my sound piece about disabled women’s health.

Disabled women’s healthcare is also a topic that BreakthroughUK is addressing through their health screening workshops.  Running at the same time as D3  these initiatives will support, encourage and empower local disabled women to take action and become more politically active.

D3:Democracy Disability & Devolution

Supporting disabled women to get involved in the political process is so important because we are particularly underrepresented.

According to the Fawcett Society only TWO women MPs identify as being disabled people – under half a percent of the House of Commons!  Yet the ONS estimates that approximately  8% of the working age population are disabled women.

Our lack of representation can be partly attributed to a global culture of misogynism within the political process.  But I also think we face a hybrid form of misogynism, as illustrated by the awful sexism and ableism  Freyja Haraldsdóttir recently experienced from other Icelandic MPs.

This intersection of misogyny and ableism is apparent within all aspects of the political process – from voting to standing in elected office. 

In the UK there has even been issues at AWS (All Women Shortlists),  such as the lack of step free speaking platforms and ableist attitudes.  For example,  one AWS candidate kept emphasising her ‘physical prowess’ during Hustings.   A debating tactic which would be questioned, at the very least, if she was emphasising being white or heterosexual etc . 

We have a political culture of macho-ableism which favours the loudest, rather than the most suitable, candidate.  Alongside the lack of basic adjustments, this sends the message that disabled women are not expected to be part of the political process. 

Recently this problem has been highlighted by shadow minister Marsha de Cordova after House of Commons authorities provided an inaccessible meeting room for an event being held to celebrate the UN’s international day of disabled people!

Hopefully initiatives like D3 and VoiceBox Cafes will go some way in changing this status quo.

For more information about D3 please see the Breakthrough website: https://www.breakthrough-uk.co.uk/democracy-disability-devolution.

CUTTER // NASH Shortlisted

Gemma Nash & Gareth Cutter performing at Metal Liverpool
CUTTER // NASH performing at Liverpool Metal, DaDaFest 2018

Really so pleased that @gareth.c.cutter and myself have been shortlisted for an Unlimited Emerging Artist Award.  Quite the list to be alongside!

It’s been an amazing journey so far with the kind support of Metal Culture, Sound and Music, Arts Council England.

“The statistics don’t really do the breadth of ideas justice … there is more music and sound work to be found in the combined arts – with Encounter Productions’ Deaf Choir, Cutter and Nash’s exploration of myths and future possibilities of the (non-normative) voice through sound art and music.”

Read more here:

https://weareunlimited.org.uk/announcing-the-unlimited-shortlists/