Home » You’re Just Little – One Year On Reflections

Sunderland University graduate Steph Robson with her exhibition at the Spectrum Cultural Hub in Seaham Picture: DAVID WOOD PHOTOGRAPHY

You’re Just Little – One Year On Reflections

A year ago to the date, 4th October 2018, the You’re Just Little exhibition launched at Spectrum Cultural Hub with nearly 30 people, including my local MP, in attendance.    The photographic exhibition sought to reveal the challenges, obstacles and societal assumptions that people, like me, with Dwarfism, face on a daily basis.

“I just want to put some pictures on a wall at my height” – I said.

From that idea, that I just wanted to put some pictures on a wall at my height, bloomed into something much more significant and influential than I could have imagined at the time.  The work placed average-height, non-disabled people in my environment and enabled me to tell my lived experience in a non-confrontational way.

I’m proud of the discussions it created, the connections it allowed average-height people to make to our disability and the challenges faced.

The exhibition started conversations that wouldn’t have necessarily happened. It brought issues that we face as a community to the front and centre.

It was also a piece of work that gave voice to a group of people who are usually the object in arts, culture and media.

It became a piece of work to platform conversations with organisations about how to enable Dwarf people to engage more fully in creative experiences, even if solutions are not quite there yet.

Participatory Success

Mostly, I’m proud that the exhibition also platformed the perspectives of other people in the Dwarfism community.

This had a profound effect, not only me personally, but to see similar perspectives on a gallery wall showed how unrecognised or unacknowledged our perspectives, as dwarf people, are in society and it’s representations of our disability.  Where we are nearly, almost always, the subject matter, not the person telling the story.

Reflections of the past 6 months

The first half of 2019 has been consumed with what I thought was self-doubt and indecision.

Yet, after being part of the UNION course and the residential weekends away, I’ve realised that I needed the space to decide what to do next. To create a vision and plan for how I could best serve the Dwarf community and my own creativity.

The lack of public support from certain parts of the Dwarf community was keenly felt. Yet I appreciate that this was a discourse that perhaps we, as a community need to become more confident, trusting and comfortable with. Understandable after years and centuries of objectification and being told we’re “just little”.

It’s interesting to see organisations doing very similar work 12 months on and makes me realise that the idea of providing art spaces and opportunities for Dwarf people to engage in art and cultural events, on our own terms, is imperative.

Sunderland Culture – Creative Development Fellowship Award

Being awarded the Sunderland Culture -Creative Development Fellowship Award, I have to confess, has been a confidence booster, especially with it being the first piece of funding I have successfully applied for.  I cannot wait for the podcasting workshops.  And while sometimes I wonder if the community is ready for this type of creative engagement – I’m delighted to be given the chance to test-run the engagement ideas, from the support of Sunderland Culture, to help me to continue developing the Dwarf voice, and to develop as a creative practitioner.

Celebrating Dwarfism Awareness Month 2019

The photographs are evergreen.

The issues and difficulties that I face and others in the Dwarfism community are still experienced daily.

Still not recognised by the majority.

The need to talk about the issues face and how we are treated that still need to be talked about to fight for our respect and acceptance in society, as current as this time last year.

To mark Dwarfism Awareness month 2019 –  I want to share some of the photographs from the exhibition. Which I will be doing daily throughout October.  I’ll be sharing the story behind each one and the wider issues that a photograph represents as living with Dwarfism in the U.K today. Do come back and follow the photographs as they are published!

The Exhibition Podcast

You can also listen to the stories behind some of the photographs on the Exhibition Podcast.

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