Spectacular Underwater Acrobatics Using a Self-Propelled Wheelchair

Spectacular Underwater Acrobatics Using a Self-Propelled Wheelchair

What is 'Creating the Spectacle!'?

 Dan Burton Photography

Image: Dan Burton Photography

‘Creating the Spectacle!’ is a groundbreaking series of live-art and video works by British artist Sue Austin featuring the world’s first underwater wheelchair, which flies along mid-water in a dramatic demonstration of the joy and freedom it brings.

The artwork has continued to receive global attention since she used the underwater wheelchair in a series of choreographed acrobatic underwater events produced through Freewheeling as part of the London 2012 Festival during the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Through ‘Creating the Spectacle!’ Sue aims to use the surprising juxtaposition of an NHS wheelchair in an underwater environment to transform preconceptions, create positive empowering images and inspire people on a Global scale. Her You Tube videos have been viewed by over half a million internet users and her work has been seen by millions, after being featured by international media, who have been inspired by her unique vision and spirit, reporting repeatedly on the ongoing story.

Sue says: “I’m thrilled that lots of people have been inspired by the project, many of them telling me how seeing the wheelchair underwater has made them want to try it too. They’re realising that it’s actually extending the boundaries for all of us. We’ve created something new and exciting and it’s really getting people talking. As a result, they’re realising that viewing the world from a different perspective inspires them to be free to explore new experiences. I now call my underwater wheelchair 'Portal' becuase it has literally pushed me through into a new dimension, into a new way of being."

The multi-faceted expressions of the underlying concept of transformation are designed to open 'portals' into the work, multiple different experiences shaped by the specific way each person first accesses the work. It therefore becomes a thinking space where every opinion is valid. Audience debate about the artwork is part of the project. As more underwater footage is released, the worldwide conversations are continuing to grow. Sue claims that "because no one has evey heard of an underwater wheelchair before (and it is about creating new ways of seeing, being and knowing), now that you have this concept in your mind, you are part of the artwork too."

Patents for the underwater wheelchair have been published and Freewheeling is currently seeking sponsorship in order to develop a production model. With appropriate training this become a unique activity that will enable others to experience the sense of joy and freedom that she feels when flying through the ocean.

Sue and her team are currently working towards an exciting multifaceted future vision for ‘Creating the Spectacle!’ through her not-for-profit organisation Freewheeling. This aims to create new ‘portals’ into the work, including:
- a national and international tour of live art events in large tank aquaria
- a national and international tour of live art events in swimming pools with part of the audience underwater
- a film for planetariums
- a commercially available model of the underwater wheelchair
- a touring exhibition of films and documentation showing project evolution, and
- a project in partnership with Plymouth University to develop an academic frame for the value of art created from diverse perspectives as well as researching innovative ways to open up access to creative education and employment.

As published  on http://www.wearefreewheeling.org.uk/