“Gadsden is creating an artwork with frantic speed, fighting her own real-life fight against the dying of the light. In the act of painting, she tells us, she is "living in the second". A profoundly affecting reminder of our shared humanity.” Luke Jennings – Guardian/Observer
Rachel Gadsden is an exciting and unique artist who creates dynamic artworks as both solo artist, and collaborator as well as leading a range of national and international participative programs. At the core of her practice are concerns as to how humankind comes to terms with mortality: by unearthing the unseen, making the invisible visible. Part of that process is about being open about impairment, and working to empower others to find a voice with which to challenge stigma. Ultimately Gadsden’s work is underpinned by themes of fragility and resilience, a shared and positive sense of survival in the face of chronic health conditions, and the politics and mythologies surrounding disability.
Gadsden is a multi-award winning artist who has a BA and MA in fine art; she was artist for Hampton Court Palace 2008, and for UK Parliamentary Outreach’s 2010 General Election public engagement commission. Gadsden was awarded to major international Olympic and Paralympic London 2012 commissions, directing Unlimited Global Alchemy and Starting Line for the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad. In 2013 Gadsden represented UK, creating “This Breathing World” for Qatar - UK Year of Culture 2013, for British Council and Qatari Government at katara Cultural Village, Doha. HRH Prince Charles formally opened the exhibition.
Recent commissions include a cross media performance, Talking Souls in collaboration with British Council SA & Artscape’s Women’s Festival, Cube of Curiosity with Marc Brew, Liberty Festival, and Gadsden is currently Artist for UK Parliament and is creating 4 Saint’s paintings for The Speaker of the House of Commons, commissioned by the Speakers Art Fund. Gadsden is currently creating a digital artwork for the lighting of the Sochi, Russia 2014 Winter Paralympic Torch as part of the Paralympic Torch lighting Ceremony at Stoke Mandeville, UK, March 2014. In March 2014 Gadsden will embark on Al Noor ~ Fragile Vision, a multi cross-cultural Middle East – UK artistic commission and out reach program in collaboration with British Council, Al Riwaq Gallery, Bahrain, and the Museum of Islamic Art, Qatar, DadaFest 2014 and the Liverpool Arab Arts Festival.Gadsden was commmissioned to create 14 Stations of the Cross paintings for St Joseph’s Cathedral, Abu Dhabi. 2015 major commissions included The Four Fridas for GDIF, A Tale of two Cities project in collaboration with Everton and Manchester City Power wheelchair football, “Amandla” for Freewheelers Theatre and Media and ILHAM exhibition and conference at Museum of Islamic Art, Qatar, and 2 artistic delivery residencies for British Council in Bahrain and Palestine.
Gadsden was selected to present at the AWID International Forum in Bahia, Brazil 2016 and she was commissioned to be the lead artist for the 2016 Rio Paralympic Heritage Torch Lighting Ceremony at Stoke Mandeville, UK. Recent Arts Council - Artists International Development Award and an a-n Travel Bursary enabled her develop her work in Palestine with the Bereaved to Bereaved Women’s Group, Jerusalem, with Gaza and West Bank disabled artists and athletes and with disabled artists that she worked with in 2015 in Ramallah. Gadsden also undertook her first commission for Qatar 2022.
2017 Gadsden was awarded an Unlimited International R&D Award for It was Paradise and was invited by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, chairman of the Riyadh- based MiSK Foundation to exhibited her work and perfrom Shamal a multi media live art and digital film perfromance in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Gadsden was awarded the National Diversity Award 2013: Positive Role Model for Disability and she was shortlisted for the European Diversity Awards, Hero of the Year 2014, and she won Breakthrough UK - National Independent Living Award "Influencing disabled people’s participation in society”.
Gadsden was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from London South Bank University in recognition of her artistic career, in Nov 2016.
Gadsden is Patron for 3 Disability Arts Charities in UK, QEII School in Horsham for moderate to severe disabled young people, DASH Disability Arts, a Disability led visual arts organisation, and Freewheelers Theatre Company, a disability led theatre and media company, and Gadsden is also an active Ambassador for Spirit of London 2012 Trust.
CV & Education
Qualifications and training
2001 - MA Fine Art, City and Guilds of London Art School, London
1998 - BA hons Fine Art (painting), Wimbledon School of Art, London
2008 - Hampton Court Palace Solo Exhibition, Hampton Court Palace, Hampton Court
2006 - Beyond the Asylum, Faith House Gallery, Holton Lee Dorset
2004 - Reflections Exhibition, Art House Gallery, London
2002 - Mirade a Colombia Looking at Colombia, Bolivar Hall, Venezuelan Embassy London
2001 - Whispers in the Dust, Institute of Child Health, London
2007 - The First International Disability Arts Competition, Holton Lee, Dorset
2005 - Beyond the Asylum, Denbigh Museum and Library 3rd Sept- 2nd Oct, Denbigh North Wales
2005 - Inside Out, Brighton Library, Brighton
2005 - Museum of Modern Art Wales Open, The Tabernacle, Machynlleth
2005 - The Whittingham Riddell Shrewsbury Open, Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery, Shrewsbury
2009 - Artist in Residence Parliamentary Outreach, Houses of Parliament, London
2007 - Historic Royal Palaces Artist in Residence Hampton Court Palace, Hampton Court Palace, Hampton Court
2007 - Holton Lee Art Residency, Holton Lee , Dorset
2002 - Artist in Residence Penallta Colliery South Wales, Penallta Colliery, South Wales
2002 - Artist in Residence working with Young Offenders, Huntercombe Young Offenders Institute, Henley on Thames
2002 - Mirada Colombia-Looking at Colombia, Bolivar Hall London, London /Bogota Colombia
2007 - Discursive Space, School of Art and Architecture, Brighton University
2005 - Beyond the Asylum, Denbigh Museum and Art Gallery, Denbigh North Wales
2005 - Poetics of Decay, Arts Council/RIBA, Brighton
Competitions, prizes and awards
2007 - People's Choice Prize for Touching Angels (Iraq), Holton Lee, Dorset
2006 - Black Swan Open, Black Swan Gallery, Frome Somerset
2005 - Arts Council England "Grant for the Arts", Arts Council South East, Brighton
2005 - Artsadmin Digital Media Bursary, Artsadmin London, London
2005 - Dada Award 2005 Visual Artist Category, Liverpool DadaFest, Liverpool
2005 - Inside Out Arts Council and RIBA, Jubilee Library, Brighton
2005 - People's Choice Prize, The Whittingham Riddell Shrewsbury Open Art Exhibition 2005, Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery
2003 - Most Popular Painting Prize, Hunting Art Prizes 2003, Royal College of Art, London
2002 - London Arts International Go Grant, Children of the Andes Bogota, Colombia, South America
2000 - Arts and Humanities Research Board Bursary, MA City And Guilds of London Art School, London
1998 - William Brooker Painting Scholarship, Wimbledon School of Art, London
1996 - Juliet Gomperts Memorial Scholarship, Italy