18 July 2023

In her latest blog Venture Arts artist Louise Hewitt has a challenging but inspiring visit to Nothing About Us Without Us. 

Louise is passionate about art and culture, visiting Manchester’s wealth of museums and galleries to gain inspiration for her own art and to write her bi-monthly Venture Arts blog. 

Woman stood in front railings with a poster for the exhibition.

Louise Hewitt outside the People’s History Museum.

People’s History Museum is a beautiful and modern building, holding different exhibitions showing the history of working people. It tells visitors tales of everyday life in the past, how people once lived and their fight for change. I have been to the People’s History Museum before as I was previously in an art exhibition there with Venture Arts called Until it Looks Like This, in 2022.

When I first came to this exhibition I found it to be very over stimulating and overwhelming to process. But I decided that I needed to see this exhibition again, so I returned for a second visit.

Nothing About Us Without Us is about fighting for disabled people’s rights and justice for disabled people. This is a powerful and beautiful exhibition that may make people laugh, cry and feel very angry. I myself, as a neurodivergent artist, found some parts of this exhibition truly overwhelming and it made me very angry in some parts. Some parts are also very interesting and beautiful, especially the artwork on the banners.


Woman stood in front of a banner saying 'disabled people fightback'.

This exhibition inspired me to do some creative writing and create a poem I've titled, '500 Years of Fighting Back'. I wrote it because I felt so angry and disgusted that it has taken this long to see change and although some things are getting better, disabled people are still battling for their rights, even today in modern society.

What I liked most about this exhibition was the message that people were determined to fight back for their rights for as long as it took. I loved the protest banners, including the ‘Disabled people fight back one’, the artwork and detail is truly mesmerising and powerful and makes you think yes, we can do this and no, we don’t deserve to be treated like this. 

What I didn’t like about this exhibition was when I came to the timeline section, which showed how long this injustice has been going on for and I discovered that this has been going on for over 500 years. This made my blood absolutely boil, over the stubbornness and selfishness of some people who are frightened to embrace change and allow society to grow up and do the right thing. This has been going on for too long, for crying out loud when will it end?


Louise Hewitt stood in front of protest banners at Nothing about us without us exhibition

This exhibition didn’t inspire me to create any visual artwork but instead inspired me to do some creative writing and write a poem I’ve titled, 500 Years of Fighting Back. You can read the poem at the bottom of this blog. I wrote it because I felt so angry and disgusted that it has taken this long to see change and although some things are getting better, disabled people are still battling for their rights, even today in modern society.

As you would hope, the accessibility to the venue is very good with a ramp and automatic doors for disabled access. There are lifts to all areas of the venue and the place has beautiful wide open spaces and everything is well signed posted. There are also staff and volunteers inside each exhibition to ask any questions. The public transport to the venue is also very good especially for taxi, tram, train or bus.

My overall thoughts of the exhibition are that it is quite overwhelming and very powerful, I feel the need to warn people that it could be rather upsetting. But that the powerful message is important and needs to be seen everywhere if things are truly going to change for the better.

Nothing About Us Without Us runs until 16th October 2023 and is a free exhibition. 


500 Years of Fighting Back
By Louise Hewitt


For over 500 years we have had to fight for our rights,
500 years of having to prove ourselves to society that we deserve to be here and heard,
All those centuries of being seen as a plague rather than human beings,
As though our lives do not matter.

There is too much greed when it comes to money over human life,
Why should people with disabilities be made to suffer at the cost of a society that doesn’t care or understand,
Why are we labelled as numbers for so long.

You would think after 500 years things would have got better,
But no, even now we are still battling for our rights,
How much longer will it take until we don’t need to battle anymore,
When will society finally grow up and accept us for who we are.

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