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photo of a window in which a circle of stones and paper sits

Jon Adams

"I am very excited at the prospect of being part of this project in the South East and am looking forward to new insight, direction and 'change'."

Jon’s work plays with the transformation of the 'ordinary' and concepts of ‘hidden verses normal' combined with a subversive or geological context. Using a wide range of skills, materials and new technology processes the work references quality and his experiences of hidden disability and outsider arts as the core: These include photography, video, digital sound and visual manipulation, installation, mapping and illustration with interwoven elements of art, sciences and autobiographical reinterpretation. His recent work outdoors in creating unique temporary artworks has engaged new audiences and inspired conversations reflecting the complex issues around disability, fragility and the nature of public art.

Jon Adams on Axis
A stone on a beach with the word 'sin' on it.
Jon Adams blog
A gun wrapped in paper covered in dense type.
Jon Adams at the University of Portsmouth
Drawing of claire (line drawing of a female head) by Jon Adams


Artists often feel they need permission. I used to think I needed permission to do things, but I don’t. The only permission anyone needs is from themselves.

I used to think I could only create artwork for the small children’s playground. It felt comfortable and although I looked over with occasional envious glances, I didn’t think I could go and play in the big kids playground.

Actually, no one was telling me I had to stay where I was. No one was telling me I couldn’t step up and go further. The only person making that decision was me.

Things changed for me when I realized it was my choice. I started working with organisations like DADA South who worked with me, not just my pictures or my work. Getting Art Plus was a really turning point. I realized I could make that choice not anyone else. This, to me, is leadership – it’s realizing you can lead yourself and you don’t have to rely on anyone else to lead you. No one can do it for you. You have do it yourself.

sketch drawing of little birds by Jon Adams

Playing in the playground

Working in the Turbine Hall of Tate in London was a real marking point for me. I was working on a sound and line installation with David Dixon. This work has opened doors for me, in the Tate and elsewhere.

I’m also on the Arts Council of England’s Council, for the South East. It means I feel I’m being taken seriously, my opinion is being sort and listened to.

I’ve just finished an exhibition at Pallant House Gallery in Chichester called The Goose on the Hill. Having a solo show here was another mark for me. I enjoy being talked about as an outsider artist. For me that’s an acknowledgement that I just do what I do, I’ve not been trained.


I want to be able to do and say what I like and I like the idea that through my work I can inspire others to do what they want to do, Who doesn’t want to be useful? , Who doesn’t want to be remembered? I want to earn what I get thought.

I feel there is a tension, especially for disabled artists to conform, almost to perform their disability sometimes. I don’t want to conform. I want to do the unexpected. I enjoy crossing boundaries.

Ultimately, I want to spend my time making work for myself. If other people like it, that’s a bonus. If you create your own work for yourself first, you don’t get hurt by what people think if they don’t like it. Having said that I enjoy creating work that speaks to people. As a book illustrator I had to draw what other people wanted me to draw all the time and I want to move away from that.

Flying the Flag

This project is bound up inseparably with my dyslexia, the love of 'hidden meaning' and the act of reading the landscape we live in, something we can do without 'needing' the written word. It's also woven with 'personal story' and narratives including 'code breaking', the standing upon, marking and crossing our own boundaries both imposed on us by others and those we draw from within, the 'seen' and 'unseen'.

Jon developed Dysarticulate in 2010 as part of the University of Portsmouth Creative Campus initiative. It resulted in 5000 flags forming 'Lines on Lines' on the hill above Chatham on Sunday 24th July 2010 and flag fields were also created at Whitstable Biennial (where 6-700 people made flags), London Southbank, Portsmouth, Chichester and ending in Chatham, and also gained an Inspire Mark.

Individual public participation in the project resulted in further flag installations as far apart as Romsey, London, Buckinghamshire and Brighton in England, Joigny in France and event a single flag planted and photographed on top of Mount Olympus.

This year’s audacious aim for 'Dysarticulate 2' links to London 2012 Open Weekend 2011 - and aims to 'engage' artists and audiences and ‘celebrate’ by creating and planting one million flags recycled from book pages -

Jon will be creating fields of flags at Up-Stream and at Sync South East's Pitch! event.