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Art puts spotlight on forgotten group

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Published on 10 October 2018

Steph Robson at her photography exhibition ‘You’re Just Little’
Steph Robson at her photography exhibition ‘You’re Just Little’

The exhibition, ‘You’re Just Little’, is at the Spectrum Cultural Hub in Seaham until 14 October, and will reveal the challenges, obstacles and assumptions that people with dwarfism face on a daily basis.

The exhibition was created by Steph Robson, an MA Radio graduate from the University of Sunderland, who is the writer of the blog ‘Hello Little Lady’, which celebrates and gives a voice to people in the dwarf community – and is now branching out into photography.

“The exhibition was born out of frustration of having my experiences with a rare form of Dwarfism, Russell Silver Syndrome, dismissed and not recognised as a disability,” says Steph. “The exhibition evolved into including photos of participants from the dwarf community to reflect the collective difficulties of a much misunderstood and mispresented disability group.

“The feedback from visitors and online has been incredible.

“You can see the penny drop as average height people begin to realise the everyday difficulties people with dwarfism encounter while moving around the environment that non-disabled people take for granted.”

The exhibition came about after Steph met University of Sunderland BA Fine Art graduate Kathryn Barnett at the University’s monthly Artworks-U meetings. Kathryn is Studio Director for The Spectrum Cultural Hub, a creative learning centre which provides low-cost studios, project space and exhibition areas.

Kathryn explains: “The Spectrum Cultural Hub is committed to learning, mentorship and supporting emerging artists. A little while ago, Steph approached me with some of her ideas. Spectrum saw the potential and agreed to host what will be Steph’s first photographic exhibition. As far as we are aware, this will also be a first for Disability Art in this area.”

The exhibition, “You’re Just Little”, includes a participatory element, consisting of contributions from members of the dwarf community worldwide alongside Steph’s photographs and an interactive installation in the gallery space.

Steph added: “Kathryn encouraged me to put a proposal together and subsequently mentored me through this exhibition. 

“The exhibition has started some very interesting discussions that I hope will inform public policy and influence how people with dwarfism can be more positively portrayed in arts, culture and media.”

“I would love for the ‘You’re Just Little’ exhibition to tour nationally to have a greater impact. We need to create more participatory projects that enable people with dwarfism to share their stories.”

‘You’re Just Little’ is at The Spectrum Cultural Hub, 2 Lighthouse View, Dawdon, Seaham until 14 October. You can read Steph Robson’s blog ‘Hello Little Lady’, which celebrates and gives a voice to people in the dwarf community, at: https://www.hellolittlelady.com/