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Artists with Physical Disabilities. 

Kathryn Barnett

Gary Nicholson

Victoria Tanner

13/11/23 - 09/12/23

Gary Nicholson

Gary Nicolson is a multidisciplinary artist based in Sunderland. Before graduating with a BA in illustration and later an MA in Design, Gary was a joiner before a spinal surgery saw him become unemployed and permanently wheelchair-bound. He was introduced to art through a friend and attended art therapy classes before deciding to enrol on a university course to develop his artistic practice. Gary's interests are pop culture and music and works in 3D and 2D illustration. He enjoys working with glass and ceramics which give a great sense of fragility to the artworks. The work exhibited is inspired by his spinal cord injury and how it has impacted him and how he sees himself as a paraplegic.

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Kathryn Barnett

In 2006, Kathryn discovered watercolour painting at a weekly workshop in the village community centre. She decided to apply to university as a mature student to fill her time and set herself a new challenge. There, she discovered installations and digital art as a way to communicate the disabled experience. Her love of found objects is evident in the subject in Mask: Stiff Upper Lip 2016. The vintage fibreglass welding mask was bought for £2 from the Saturday flea market in Chester-le-Street. 

If you are fond of metaphors, the mask which was once essential has become damaged and obsolete. Kathryn liked its aesthetic and worked with its original function of covering the face. She wanted to explain how complicated and tedious it can be to describe chronic illness, including mental health. Questions can become quite prying and personal, even from strangers. There can also be pressure to ‘act normal’ to avoid unwanted attention. It is just easier to say everything is fine. 

Kathryn strongly believes disability art has a place in the mainstream arts. She says, “It’s not as scary or marginal as you might think. It’s just how life is.”

Kathryn is the Co-founder and Director of LVAC Community Interest Company, which aims to tackle the cultural inequalities created by deprivations of health, income and education. She studied BA (Hons) Fine Art at the University of Sunderland. Later, she completed an MA in Fine Art at Teesside University. 

As a student, she exhibited a series of disability art screen prints, entitled, “Why?”, at the NGCA in Fawcett Street, Sunderland. Work from her final graduate exhibition was featured in the AN Graduate Show Guide 2016. 

Kathryn is a two-time winner of the Ede Ravenscroft Prize at Sunderland, and winner of the Sunderland Echo graduate prize. She completed an internship at Teesside University (2019) and was Creative Producer and later, a Research Assistant, for Prof. Simon McKeown’s disability heritage research project, The Carrying of Passengers is Forbidden (2018). 

Victoria Tanner

Victoria likes to create large, bold, eye-catching art. 


Over the years Victoria has experimented with different styles and mediums, concluding that she enjoys working and creating her best work by using acrylics in an abstract style. Victoria likes to use untraditional mark-making tools, anything that catches her eye that will create the desired effect and she prefers pallet knives over brushes. Ultimately she aims to create texture in her painting and use bright uplifting colours, usually with a splash of gold. 


Taking inspiration from her English degree, Victoria loves to incorporate words and quotes into her work. She has recently started to combining her original artwork with photography to create digital prints. A lot of her work is inspired by nature, and her absolute favourite subject to paint is the sea, inspired by living on the coast in Sunderland.


Victoria was diagnosed with the auto-immune condition, ulcerative colitis when she was 21. She had surgery to remove her large intestine and now living with an ostomy/stoma. Victoria has had lots of big operations and during illness and recovery from surgeries art was her therapy. A temporary escape, a distraction from the pain and her hobby has become her biggest passion. 

Virtual Gallery Space 

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