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Michelle Baharier is an acclaimed multidisciplinary socially engaged visual artist based in London. Her artistic practice is strongly influenced by her lived experience of disability, her work reflects this. Her oeuvre includes videos, sound, performance and colourful expressive paintings and portraits, using storytelling, phone drawings and digital collages.
Baharier herself has Dyslexia. She was the Artistic Director/Founder and CEO of the Charity CoolTan Arts, run by and for disabled people. During her tenure from 1993 – 2016, she won twenty-seven prestigious awards for the agency and obtained funding from various public and private and organisations. Her endeavours paved way for the appointment of the British Artist Maggi Hambling as the first Patroon of CoolTan Arts. To Baharier, addressing barriers and prejudices about mental health, and dealing with multiple challenging social issues are of utmost importance to advance awareness and to further progress.
The Walkie Talkie, Baharier’s latest project comprises digital collages exploring bus journey accounts of strangers and their connections to them. The digital works were inspired by a poem called Routemaster Race, written by David Morris who is a wheelchair user. During covid and the lockdown most people were excluded from using public transport, which to Baharier felt like being David, excluded from life, which brought about the inspiration to make this body of work. Often her work focuses on her own life experiences and that of disabled comrades, breaking down prejudice and stereotype and stigma.