“As a mother of someone with a learning disability and Down’s Syndrome, it’s really important that people see and recognise my daughter and her abilities – like any other mum, you want that,” said Henny Beaumont.
The cartoonist, who works for the Guardian and is artist-in-residence for the British Institute of Learning Disabilities, is teaming up with businesses in Stoke Newington this summer to put on a public exhibition featuring work by people who feel marginalised.
The Invisible People Art Trail will take place from 2-10 July, and will see artworks, including some by Beaumont’s 21-year-old daughter Beth, showcased in shop and restaurant windows in a celebration of difference and talent.
The project is being run in partnership with Kate Revere of social enterprise Revere the Residence, where Beth works during the holidays. Revere’s daughter Piper is deaf and autistic.
Beaumont said: “Kate and I bonded over a sense that we both feel our daughters are a bit invisible. There is a sense that they are not part of the community – friendships are very difficult and isolation is a real problem.
“Beth draws all the time. She does beautiful drawings. She completely has her own style. She draws directly from her imagination. She draws family and friends and she’s obsessed with flowers and butterflies but does it in her own way.
“It has been very difficult to get people involved, on board, feeling responsible and understanding of what she has to offer and how valuable, lovely, funny, warm and brilliant she is.
“It’s very difficult because people just see the disability first of all and don’t take on board all the other wonderful characteristics.”
Beth, who is studying catering at college in Minehead, said: “I hope people might like my pictures and I feel happy. When I do paintings, it does relax me.”
Just five per cent of adults with learning disabilities are employed.
Beaumont added: “It’s outrageously low. Beth’s college has a 65 per cent rate of employment after college – it shows what can be done. We’re trying to do something to help people make some money and be recognised.”
Revere the Residence offers employment and work experience to young people with disabilities or additional needs, or to their parents.
Beaumont, who has three other children, added: “Kate has been a lifesaver for Beth because she has created a community of people with learning disabilities and other disabilities, and you’ll see the warmth and sense of community in the shop when everyone is together.
“The Art Trail is a celebration of these people’s abilities, an opportunity to make people feel visible and for their artwork to be seen. It’s an appreciation of difference.”
Revere’s daughter Piper will also have her artworks on display, and Beaumont added: “Piper comes round and draws with me and she does amazing drawings. She draws until her dad comes round to pick her up! She has lots of work in the show.”
A host of aspiring artists who feel marginalised have submitted work for the exhibition.
The artworks will be sold, with all proceeds going to the artists. Sales of any donated works will help fund the Stoke Newington Business Association (SNBA).
Beaumont and artist Brigit Connolly have also been working with local special educational needs school Stormont House to produce plates and mugs with students’ artwork. The crockery will be sold in Stoke Newington this summer.