A project for the visibility of people with disabilities in rural environments through artistic practices and urbanism
‘Here be dragons’ (“Hic sunt dracones”) is what they wrote in the Middle Ages when they did not know what was beyond the explored territory. Sea serpents and other mythological creatures were drawn on maps in these unknown areas.
Here are Dragons is a project that works with people with disabilities and artists, both local and from outside the peripheral contexts, and that seeks to make visible, empower and promote the autonomy, capacities and equality of a community that, especially in the peripheries and rural areas, is usually less visible and able to participate in common life.
This project explores inclusive art and urbanism, using artistic and creative practices to make people with disabilities visible and to place them at the centre of social contexts and policies, as well as valuing the work and commitment of the social groups closest to these communities, which are fundamental to their personal development.
We started this project with the certainty that in the case of the disability-related world, art favours the creation of work habits, awakens observation and produces changes in people, developing self-esteem. In conclusion, we believe that artistic practices are a tool that helps to discover the capabilities of any person.
The first edition of this project took place in the autumn of 2019 in Santa Cruz de La Palma, in the surroundings of the suburb of La Dehesa, together with the artists Clara Moreno and the local artist Raisa Maudit. In this first edition we had the collaboration of ‘Plena Inclusión Canarias’ and the different associations and occupational centres whose members live and know the history and context of the environment of ‘La Dehesa’, ‘Las Nieves’ and ‘Velhoco’. We also worked with the neighbourhood association, municipal workers, botanists and even the parish priest of the Royal Sanctuary of ‘Nuestra Señora de las Nieves’. In this way we promote interconnections between different communities with the aim of building a network that relates other ways of living the public spaces we inhabit.
In the various visits we shared experiences and learning by means of walks, urbanism workshops, design and construction, drawing, music and performance, emphasizing the environment, the flora, the memory and the heritage of a place as emblematic as the environment of the ‘Real Santuario de las Nieves’ and the ‘Barranco de las Nieves’ (Las Nieves Ravine). The project culminated with a “pilgrimage” through the ravine, a journey in which different points of the way were activated, installing a series of furniture designed and built by the participants, artists and Zuloark, inspired by the natural environment itself.
With the installation of this furniture (and the previous work of collecting plants, drawing, telling stories and music, tastes, interests and own memory, promoting the appropriation and resignification of public space) not only the natural and heritage environment is valued, but also the integration of people with intellectual or developmental disabilities through artistic practices in the context of the periphery of the capital of ‘La Palma’ is made visible and promoted. The invitation to participate in the “pilgrimage” to share and support all those interested was open not only to families, but to all those people who want to rethink and do something to improve our environment by learning, collaborating together and building a network.