Born: 1993 | Coming to VA since: 2013 | Artforms: Ceramics, photography, animation, illustration
Proudest VA moment: “Getting fame as an artist. Being glamorous and famous.”
Dominic Bennett’s creativity knows no bounds. Since joining VA six years ago, he has explored passions ranging from hip hop – Eminem and Tupac are particular influences – all the way to children’s classic The Wind in the Willows. He’s become a highly skilled ceramicist and multidisciplinary artist. And last November he took to the stage at the Manchester Culture Awards, accompanied by rapt applause, to collect an award for the prestigious title of ‘Young Creative of the year: 2018’.
Getting recognition is important to Dominic. He loves the fact that “you can come to VA and do anything you want. You can become a famous artist.”
He sits on our learning disability-led steering group, and has attended protest marches, fighting for social justice and equality – themes he often explores in his work.
In 2017 he worked with games designers to create a playable arcade game, Weasel Nation, inspired by the Wind in the Willows villains and featuring characters with disabilities, voiced by his VA friends. This was exhibited in the foyer of HOME Manchester, as part of a major, critically acclaimed show by Project X (HOME’s collective of emerging talent who staged a year-long takeover of the venue. Dominic was the only learning disabled artist in the group.)
Dominic has musical talent too, and hopes to make it big as a rap artist: he’s just finished recording his first album, World Domination, for which he’s created artwork and music videos with VA. It includes songs inspired by wrestling, Manchester United, and Only Fools and Horses, alongside some more serious subjects that are close to his heart.
Dominic’s achievements are all the more impressive given the invisibility of learning disabled people across our cultural spaces. This group faces negative attitudes from others on a daily basis. They are talked down to, underestimated, discriminated against – or outright ignored. Research by Scope found that 1 in 7 disabled people have experienced others ignoring them or simply pretending not to see them.
Through Venture Arts, Dominic has refused to be ignored.
When asked to sum up VA in a word, he says: “Family. We’re a group of close friends, we’re like family. We will send a message out to the world. We’re Venture Arts. You don’t mess with us!”