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Film Oxford presents the latest work by The Shadowlight Artists, a group of six artists with learning disabilities based in Oxfordshire. A group show across two venues, Arts at the Old Fire Station and Modern Art Oxford, this exhibition showcases work spanning installation, painting, digital media and theatrical production. The exhibition celebrates the group’s creative growth since their formation in 2009 with an artistically ambitious body of work that re-frames disability arts.

The exhibition features a series of dynamic new works by the core group, alongside two new films produced by the wider Shadowlight Associates group.

Mark Hemsworth’s prints represent a move into large-scale works, reflecting his obsession with collecting images; while a new installation by Richard Hunt expands his painting practice into the realms of multimedia installation. A new animation by Tom Breach merges autobiographical experience with fantasy; and Lucy Skuce’s video installation blends her obsession with construction and the domestic environment. Danny Smith’s new film expands his interest into ancestral memory and the cultures of prehistory.

About Shadowlight Artists 

The Shadowlight Artists are a group of six artists with learning disabilities based in Oxfordshire, working in a variety of media but with a shared interest in digital forms. Their work is personal, moving, and at times challenging.

The group formed in 2009 as a result of Film Oxford’s Flash Frame project. The aim of the project was to identify individuals with learning disabilities who showed artistic potential and ambition to take their work to a broader audience. Since then, the group have gone on to produce work that has reached audiences within the UK and beyond, spanning media, from painting and sculptural installation, to film and theatrical production.

The Shadowlight Artists are Tom Breach, Mark Hemsworth, Russell Highsmith, Richard Hunt, Lucy Skuce and Danny Smith.

Artist Biographies

Richard Hunt

Richard Hunt was born in 1972 in Plymouth, and grew up in Gibraltar (amongst other places). He now lives in Rose Hill in Oxford. Hunt works prolifically, and has produced around 150 new paintings and drawings over the last 3 years. In 2013 he exhibited works at the Compton Verney Gallery in Warwickshire. Hunt identifies his creativity as an extension of his Catholic faith, and sees painting as a direct expression of his belief. This devotional practice is also interleaved with his interest in popular culture, and his work often incorporates elements drawn from Egyptian murals alongside imagery form popular culture, such as Star Wars or Batman. Richard won the 2017 Shape Open prize with his painting Totempole, produced during the Creative Bridges project.

Lucy Skuce

Lucy Skuce was born in 1981 in Banbury, Oxfordshire, and grew up in Worcestershire. She lives in Didcot, Oxfordshire. A filmmaker born with multiple disabilities, Skuce bought her first VHS camcorder as a young woman and started to film her life, including the objects and places she identifies as important. Since working as part of the Shadowlight group, her focus has increasingly shifted from inanimate objects to people, particularly her desire to assert the importance of her personal power and independence. This independence includes the importance to her of ownership and control of the production process; scripting, shooting and editing her films herself. Her work has been screened both within the UK and internationally, including Liberty Festival (National Film Theatre BFI Southbank), and Abilities Festival (Toronto).

Mark Hemsworth

Mark Hemsworth was born in 1968 in Reading and grew up in Cholsey, Oxfordshire with his family. He is a skilled draughtsman with interests in photography, film, and other recording media. In part due to his passion for walking and the landscape, Mark is also interested in work which uses the landscape and experience of the natural environment directly, such as the work of Richard Long. 

Russell Highsmith

Russell Highsmith was born in Oxford in 1985 and lives in Abingdon. Building on his previous writing and direction projects, Highsmith has expanded his writing from short film scripts into long-form work. He has developed a script for a play which culminated in a theatrical performance of the work The Big Shock in February 2016. The play draws on the genres of romantic comedy and drama, and at times offers an unsettling view of young relationships. Russell developed the piece in collaboration with playwright and producer Mark Ralph-Bowman.

Danny Smith

Danny Smith has broad artistic interests and has worked in a wide range of media from painting and photography to performance animation and documentary. His work across these media shows a common theme; Danny's desire to demonstrate independence, and explore the emotions triggered by change in his own life. In 2016, working with choreographer and dramatist Emma Webb and photographer Roger Gilboy, Danny has made a film, The Light from my Crystal, exploring his dreams. Interested in the cave as a dream space and ancient cave dwellers, in his dream, Smith awakes in the Stone Age and finds a crystal that has the power to bring life to the distant past. Through the film, he has visualised this dream, performing in the Clearwell Caves with himself cast in a gothic imagining of ancestral life.

Tom Breach

Tom Breach is 20, lives in Oxford and has Asperger’s. Having joined the Shadowlights in 2016, Tom Breach is the newest member of the group. He often works in the medium of drawing. 

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