Cultivating spaces for extraordinary artists

Yvette Priestley

Yvette was born in Shrewsbury and spent her early years in the town before going to school in Coventry for visually impaired children. Her Dad and his large extended family still live in the Shropshire area.

Yvette's world as a visually impaired child growing up in the 1980s, had very little to do with art. She says that she did enjoy art at school, but was quickly encouraged to concentrate on 'sensible' subjects to get on in life.

She spent three years back in Shropshire on and off after leaving university - and during this time has vague recollections of hearing about DASH.

Yvette got a 'proper' job, which led her to London. "This is where my taste for art began. My workplace was close to Tate Britain and I got involved in access projects at the gallery. This started with helping develop picture described tours of the gallery and putting together an orientation guide to get to the gallery."

"A group of visually impaired people was then set up to advise Tate Britain and Tate Modern on its access work. The touch tours and picture described tours really flourished at this time. I also did some evening classes in sculpture and ceramics in my limited free time."

Yvette relocated to Birmingham for work reasons in 2006 and shortly after this read an advert in the Guardian by DASH for new Directors. It appealed to her because it was based in Shropshire and it linked her interest of making the arts more accessible to disabled people.

"I became Chair in 2008 and I think it is more important than ever to support disabled artists and audiences."