Taking control through writing and making art

Lisa Scott2, Gabrielle Mordy2, Chloe Watfern1

1University Of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, 2Studio A, Sydney, Australia

Lisa Scott is a writer and artist for whom the pattern of text and stitch has brought insight and stability. Over many years, she has kept hand-written journals containing the stories of her life and her dreams for the future. In 2017 she first brought her journals into Studio A, a supported studio based in Sydney that tackles the barriers that artists living with intellectual disability face in accessing the art world. With the support of Studio A, Scott began the process of translating her life story into a visual artwork. This paper examines Scott’s practice, which has generated knowledge about her lived experience as an artist and a woman with an intellectual disability.

Here, a practice-led approach is adopted, where the creative work itself is a form of research. In addition, audio-recorded conversations between the authors provide insight into Scott’s process and intentions.

For Scott, writing and making art is a way of taking control. When she gets upset she starts writing because it makes her feel relieved. But sharing her work is also important. In March 2018, Scott exhibited her work at the Australian Design Centre. The show included a dress hand-stitched with important words from Scott’s journal. Scott wants audiences to hear her story. When people hear her story and her background she feels excited and lightened.

In considering Scott’s unique practice and lived experience, this paper contributes to an understanding of the significance of the creative arts for people with an intellectual disability.


Lisa Scott is an artist and writer who makes work at Studio A in Sydney.

Chloe Watfern is a Scientia PhD Scholar at the Univeristy of New South Wales.

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