On the Couch with Claire Cunningham

Claire Cunningham Arts Review On the Couch photo by Eoin CareyWho is Claire Cunningham?
I’m a disabled artist and performance maker based in Glasgow, Scotland, currently visiting Australia for the first time and now performing my solo show, Give Me A Reason To Live in Melbourne for the Festival of Live Art (FOLA).

What would you do differently to what you do now?

Who inspires you and why? Many people.
Those I collaborate with, my friends, those close to me rather than distant figures.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
I think partly I’m doing the best I can by doing what I’m good at. But I could be more politically active I think. And recycle more!

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Whats a holiday? (ask me in a week when I potentially have my first holiday in years hopefully on a beach near Sydney somewhere…)

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take then to, and why?
In Glasgow I take them to Sharmanka. It’s a kinetic gallery of sculptures by the wonderful sculptor-mechanic Eduard Bersudsky and its incredibly dark, melancholic and humourous, yet deeply political – I love his work.

What are you currently reading?
Nothing – but I’m hoping in my holiday time to start (finally) Lighthousekeeping by Jeanette Winterson.

What are you currently listening to?
I’ve just been re-introduced to Dancing on my Own by Robyn. Im really enjoying it as a warm up song – its way more upbeat than things I normally listen to but I think that’s good right now. It fits with the sunshine in Australia for me.

Happiness is?
My friends.

What does the future hold for you?
Lying on a beach hopefully. New people. New work. Coming back to Australia…

Claire Cunningham is a Glasgow-based performer and creator of multi- disciplinary performance. One of the UK’s most renowned disabled artists, her work is often rooted in the study and use/misuse of her crutches and the exploration of the potential of her own specific physicality, with a conscious rejection of traditional dance techniques developed for non-disabled bodies and any attempt to move with the pretence of a body or aesthetic other than her own.

Cunningham’s work combines multiple art forms and ranges from the intimate solo show, ME (Mobile/Evolution) (2009) to the large ensemble work, 12 – made for Candoco Dance Company. In 2014, she created Give Me a Reason to Live and the full-length show, Guide Gods – which looks at perspectives of the major faith traditions towards the issue of disability.

She is a former artist-in–residence at the Women of the World Festival at the Southbank, London, and of the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queens University. In 2016, Claire will be Tramway’s (Glasgow) Associate Artist and Perth International Arts Festival’s Artist In Residence.

Claire will be performing Give Me a Reason to Live at Arts House, North Melbourne Town Hall: 9 – 11 March as part of the 2016 Festival of Live Art (FOLA). For more information, visit: www.fola.com.au for details.

Image: Claire Cunningham – photo by Eoin Carey