Art In Motion (AIM)

Everything and Nothing | Arnolfini Gallery

Betty Sargent is wearing a headpiece that she made from newspaper. It was her starting point for thinking about making a Dadaist costume. She likes to work in crochet and has crocheted a teapot and mug which sit on top of the headpiece in a Dadaist manner. Photo by Helen Grant.

In the spirit of Dada Bristol-based artist collective AIM have created a series of nonsensical happenings and fuzzy protests.

AIM consists of a group of artists who define themselves as learning disabled and as neurodiverse. We work in the public realm and provide opportunities for our artists to develop skills, knowledge and creativity through engaging in a range of artist-led projects. We share our work with a wide audience through exhibitions, presentations and screenings.

The projects we create are artist-led, providing opportunities for our artists to develop skills, knowledge and creativity. Our starting point in devising and developing projects is through making. For Everything and Nothing we have created art in the form of costumes that we wear as part of our intervention. We are passionate about the power of art to be more visible - be more active - to wear our art in public and to push the boundaries of what we do as a group, exploring new ideas. We aim to become more politicised and open up discussion about disability and art, recognising that lockdown has highlighted inequalities for disabled people.

In the spirit of Dada, our intervention is nonsensical, anarchic, non-conformist with an absurdist sense of humour. Visual aspects of our ideas have been directly influenced by photographs from Dadaist costumes created for Dadaist events in Berlin and at the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich.

We have also taken inspiration from an archival photograph taken outside the Arnolfini in 1989 of a group of disabled artists protesting about the re-design of the cafe and lack of access. We are incorporating the artwork made by AIM artists during lockdown. For example, Jonathan Barr Lindsay spent lockdown creating pictures of superheroes who he imagined would save us from the current situation depicting and commenting on world anxiety. Betty Sargent crocheted miniature figures of all the people she could not see during lockdown, exploring her feelings of missing connections with people. Chris Rose filled his flat with life-size Lego figures he made from cardboard, making a personal comment on the experience of isolation.

For Everything and Nothing the artists will brandish placards created to convey seemingly arbitrary, confusing, and possibly contradictory messages, using the language of protest while generating confusion about the message – a ‘fuzzy protest’, both serious and humorous. The project has been devised and created by AIM artists Jonathan Barr Lindsey, Louise Morgan, Dave Pearse, Chris Rose, Beth Richards, Betty Sargent, Helen Grant and Colin Higginson.

With the support from the Arnolfini and special thanks to Jesse Cooper and Keiko Higashi.

Everything and Nothing: Art in Motion at the Arnolfini Bristol Saturday 2nd July.

 The AIM artists worked over several months creating Dadaist-inspired wearable art in the form of elaborate costumes. 

Each artist drew ideas from their interests or particular passion, superheroes, recycling,books, knights and crochet. These ideas collided to create a menagerie of colourful and strange creations.

Alongside these creations, the artists explored what they wanted to say in their performance - Everything and Nothing!

The group produced placards with images on one side. Images of paintbrushes, guinea pigs,cameras, rocks, sunglasses, and fish and on the other side text, which, when arranged in the correct order, spelt: We Do Dada You Do Dada, although when not in order became nonsensical.

The group devised three interventions to perform throughout the day; one in the foyer of the Arnolfini; one in front of the building, and one, a walking piece, away from the gallery. Adorned in their costumes and brandishing their placards, they were ready to do Dada.

Unfortunately,Saturday 2nd July was a very wet day in Bristol. However, the artists knew the weather would not dampen their Dada spirit. Full of nervous excitement and ready to face any challenge, the artists decided to treat the day as a big experiment to create confusion, puzzlement, wonder and humour. 


Their first performance received a great deal of public attention. Visitors and passers-by escaping from the rain filled the foyer to be confronted by the unexpected. 


The performers firstly moved around the space in silence, boldly waving their placards, pointing fingers at each other, at spectators, then suddenly drawing in on themselves, cowering and uncertain. Next a soft humming could be heard, getting slowly louder until sounds, half-formed words, could be heard:

 Da!, Dada! Da!Dada! Dada! Dada! 

After the success of their first intervention, the group felt motivated and eager to do more. Due to the weather, the artists had to re-work their further two interventions, which they had planned for outside.  

The challenge to the group to devise and create new work on the spot encouraged them to be more innovative and playful. What did they have to lose for this was Dada!


In the second intervention, they arranged themselves differently in the space, exploring moving from stillness to more expressive movement. Using sound, they again went from humming to a more frantic exclamation of the words 'Dada'.


In their final intervention, the group felt more confident than ever. They took control of the foyer space, communicating more directly with spectators. One minute appearing bold and pompous, and the next, shrinking back, anxious and scared. This performance was more varied in the actions and gestures and had more emotional intensity.

On finishing the performance, one of the performers turn to me saying;

"I want to do this again. We need to do more of this."


For AIM, being involved in WAIWAV has been a rewarding and positive experience. Having been given the opportunity and challenge to think from a different perspective, Dada gave the artists the freedom to experiment, be bold and think sideways.


Attending the WAIWAV artists event in Birmingham was not only a great opportunity to meet the other artists involved in the project but, helped re-enforce for the AIM artists, that they were part of something meaningful and far bigger than just their intervention.


AIM’s partnership with the Arnolfini has strengthened. A week following the performance, AIM had an exhibition in the gallery where they exhibited costumes and photographs from the WAIWAV project. Since this experience the artists are now keen to do more performance work.





Aaron Williamson

‘Hiding in 3D’ | IKON, Birmingham

Alex Billingham

Fishwives Revenge | Tate St Ives

Alice Quarterman

Untitled: Why Are You Writing That Down? I Said It’s Untitled | John Hansard Gallery, Southampton

Alistair Gentry

25% (Rectification) | Tate Liverpool