Robyn has had low vision all her life and has been using her work to advocate for better disabled representation.
She co-founded NZ's first disability television series ‘Inside Out’, and several innovative projects, including Crip the Lit, and the Disability Clothesline.
On top of that, she’s also worked in arts access, digital accessibility, in the disability community in government and NGO roles, and in human rights.
Earlier in the year, Robyn decided to write a collection of essays with a disability theme and struggled to shape the work.
Looking for inspiration, she applied for a residency at Toi Pōneke, and was the first artist to take part in the new d/Deaf and/or disabled artist development residency.
Robyn believes that this residency is exactly what she needed to develop her writing.
“The residency provided an opportunity to focus without distraction and think about what I wanted to say. I had permission to work on the essays and shape my ideas into a book concept. I exceeded the goals I set myself by completing six essays, one or two to several drafts, and a full book proposal.”
“Someone, somewhere believed I could write a book and that I was worth investing in. Having a writing mentor helped improve and shape my writing.”
As the first artist to take part in the residency, Robyn wants to encourage other d/deaf and/or disabled artists to get involved.
“I am so happy this opportunity is being offered again. The experience was very positive and affirming. I might never have had the confidence to apply for other more general opportunities and being offered this opportunity as an older person – there were no opportunities like this when I was young.”
Robyn believes this new residency is going to help give artists a platform.
“I think the community feels affirmed and valued as serious arts practitioners by being offered this opportunity, and seeing it being offered again shows our work, ambition, and development aspirations are being taken seriously and that we are respected as practicing artists.
“Not only is it positive for disabled arts practitioners, but it raises the profile of disability arts practice in different fields with the wider arts community. Disabled stories and representations by us make an important and valuable contribution to the wider human story and experience and are integral to the arts as a vehicle for change and human progress. Opportunities like this for a wider range of artists and creators, beyond the exceptional few, will enrich the whole community.”
If you’re interested in this residency, you can find out more on the Toi Pōneke website. Applications for the 2024 residency close 15 November 2023.