Championing Neurodivergence On Screen

By Benji Thomas

Project Art Works is a collective of artists and makers based in Hastings, and is attracting national attention for its efforts in promoting the representation of artists with complex support needs [see Issue 125: Project Art Works: from Local to International]

Illuminating the Wilderness

Film London Jarman Award 2020

Four films created by artists at Project Art Works have been shortlisted for the Film London Jarman Award. This prestigious award was inspired by the avant-garde filmmaker Derek Jarman, whose iconic Prospect Cottage, close by in Dungeness, still attracts visitors from all over the world. Established in 2008, the award celebrates experimentation and innovation within the art of the moving image. Alongside Project Art Works’ films there are only five other entries in the shortlist: Michelle Williams Gamaker, Hannah Quinlan and Rosie Hastings, Jenn Nkiru, Larissa Sansour, and Andrea Luka Zimmerman. The winner will be announced in November and awarded a cash prize of £10,000.

Illuminating the Wilderness

One of Project Art Works’ nominated films: Illuminating the Wilderness, documents the shared experience of six neurodivergent artists exploring the wilds of Glen Affric in Scotland.

In an artist profile interview with Film London, artist and co-founder of Project Art Works, Kate Adams, comments that the film “shows the relationships that emerged, and the way in which we all started to look out for each other. All hierarchies of the traditional film set were completely eradicated.” Adams further suggests that the moving image work that their collective creates “repositions people and the way they’re seen in society, as leaders and contributors”.

In a short excerpt from the film, which you can view at https://filmlondon.org.uk/profile/project-art-works, one artist embarks on a treasure hunt through the forest as the rain begins to fall, the group encounters a wild frog, and together they explore the wilderness. Genuine moments of interaction and the relationships between the artists, their carers, and the natural world are examined, framed by stunning shots of Glen Affric.

As the centrepiece of a wider programme of innovative discourse entitled Explorers, the exposure of Project Art Works through the Jarman Award will hopefully contribute further to more widespread positive discussion within the culture sector and wider society about the value of neurodivergence within the Arts.

Coming up on the weekend beginning 14th November, the Film London Jarman Award Weekend will host online screenings, talks and performances by the shortlisted artists through the Whitechapel Gallery’s website. Go to: www.whitechapelgallery.org/jarman-award/jarman-award-2020-shortlist to find out more about the award and this year’s shortlist.

Project Art Works is also currently working on a cinematic version of Illuminating the Wilderness intended for wider release.


We hope you have enjoyed reading this article. The future of our volunteer led, non-profit publication would be far more secure with the aid of a small donation. You can also support local journalism by becoming a friend of HIP. It only takes a minute and we would be very grateful.