Visitors to 20-21 Visual Arts Centre can walk through a 10-metre long inflatable tunnel sculpture as part of ‘Jason and his Argonauts’, a new exhibition held as part of the Scunthorpe gallery’s 20th birthday celebrations.
Drawing inspiration from the Greek epic, the exhibition sees artist Jason Wilsher-Mills bringing the stories of a new cast of heroes, those living with disabilities, to life in a visually stunning spectacle.
MP for Scunthorpe, Holly Mumby-Croft and Cllr John Davison, cabinet member for safer, stronger communities – urban, were among the first to see the new exhibition, which opened to the public on 9 October.
The centrepiece, ‘The Changing Places Argonaut’, is a richly decorated interactive tunnel which shares stories from the Changing Places campaign, calling for accessible toilets to be installed in large public venues throughout the UK.
Vibrant fibreglass ‘argonaut’ sculptures, light box digital paintings and a virtual reality gaming experience combine with Mills’ humour to challenge pre-conceived ideas of disability.
Sharing the inspiration behind the exhibition, Jason Wilsher-Mills, said:
“Through Jason & his Argonauts on Tour I have worked with disabled people in North Lincolnshire, Hull, Dorset, Corby, Manchester and London. As a disabled person I am interested in sharing the rich stories of our communities with a wider audience.
“I also wanted to ensure that carers were given an opportunity to tell their stories and my work reflects the wonderful work that they do. For example, the huge sculpture, ‘The Changing Places Argonaut’, is influenced by a chance meeting at 20-21 Visual Arts Centre with Lorna Fillingham, a North Lincolnshire carer campaigning for fully accessible toilets to be installed in all public buildings, so disabled people can live full lives just like everyone else.
“I hope you enjoy this show and take from it the joy, hope and humour that has gone into the work.”
Cllr Rob Waltham, leader, North Lincolnshire Council, said:
“It is fantastic to welcome Jason’s amazing cast of argonauts to Scunthorpe. This exhibition explores the experiences and challenges faced by people living with disabilities, a cause close to our hearts, in a unique and powerful way.
“We are committed to ensuring our town centres and facilities are accessible to everyone, and, working together with Lorna and the wider community, I’m proud of what we have achieved so far.
“The Changing Places toilets that have been installed at 12 locations across North Lincolnshire make a huge difference and enable more people to enjoy our towns and attractions.”
Jason and his Argonauts runs until 8 January 2022 and is the latest high-profile artwork to appear at the Scunthorpe based gallery, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary with an extra-special programme.
Most recently, local people’s poems were written large across 24 North Lincolnshire locations in Luke Jerram’s Of Earth and Sky, forming 20-21’s first ever outdoor art trail.
Cllr John Davison, cabinet member for safer, stronger communities – urban, said:
“20-21 Visual Arts Centre has pulled out all the stops to bring a brilliant anniversary programme to Scunthorpe.
“From Luke Jerram’s ‘Museum of the Moon’, to Dan Rawlings’ reclaimed oil tanker truck and now the huge inflatable argonauts, the creativity on display has been incredible to see and so inspiring to the wealth of creative talent we have here in North Lincolnshire.”
Jason & his Argonauts is supported using funding from Arts Council England.