Impact case study: Lisette Auton
“I was never told to dampen down my ideas, or fit them into this particular box or constraints, but asked how can you make this bigger and bolder, and how can we help? As a disabled and neurodivergent artist, to be given this level of control and artistic scope was incredible.”
Lisette Auton, commissioned by New Writing North and Durham Book Festival 2020 & 2021
In late 2019, Lisette Auton responded to New Writing North’s call-out for New Narratives of the North East, a major commissioning strand for new work across genres.
Using reportage, poetry, verbatim speech and found poetry, she created Writing the Missing, a work exploring a new narrative for disabled culture in the North East. “I want to talk about the missing… 25% of people in the North East classify as disabled. We do not take up 25% of the cultural space. Where are the missing? How do we say: ‘you are welcomed and important?’.”
The written work – which you can read here – inspired a trilogy of short films, which New Writing North commissioned for Durham Book Festival. The third instalment will be completed in 2022. You can watch Writing the Missing: A River Cycle and Writing the Missing: All at Sea below.
New Writing North supported me to push my writing to the limits
“The ‘Writing the Missing’ series of films began as a written commission for New Writing North’s New Narratives for the North East. I was supported during this project to push my writing to the limits, allowing me to be brave and bold. I had a meeting with Claire Malcolm, to discuss where I might want to take this next and how NWN could support me in doing so. By the end of the meeting I’d said I wanted to make a film and Durham Book Festival was on board to help make it happen.
I had never made a film on this scale before.
The faith in me as an artist with a vision, and the support that I knew was always there if I needed it, allowed me to work with Rob Irish (filmmaker) and Sue Lee (BSL interpreter) to produce the piece of work I wanted to create. I was never told to dampen down my ideas, or fit them into this particular box or constraints, but asked how can you make this bigger and bolder, and how can we help? As a disabled and neurodivergent artist, to be given this level of control and artistic scope was incredible.
‘Writing the Missing – A River Cycle’ went on to win The Journal Culture Award 2021 for Performance of the Year. The next year I made ‘All at Sea’ and this time had the confidence to dig deep into my non-linear storytelling and vision for how I wanted it to look, sound and feel. The response has been incredible, from both disabled and non-disabled audience members. What I treasure the most is my new found confidence in my ability as an artist, having this valued by NWN has enabled me to soar, to be bold in my ambitions, and to apply for, and get, commissions I would have never dreamed of applying for before.”
Lisette Auton, 2022
Writing the Missing: A River Cycle by Lisette Auton (2020)
Writing the Missing: All at Sea by Lisette Auton (2021)
Lisette Auton‘s work focuses on identity, curiosity and play, kindness and access. Disabled, neurodivergent and northern, some say she’s a word artist, she says she does stuff with words. She works as a solo artist, with collaborators, and alongside wonderful humans as a creative practitioner. Her work lives on the page and often leaps off it as performance or installation. You’ll find Lisette’s work online, in galleries, theatres and bookshops, as well as random places such as laundrettes and station waiting rooms.
Lisette is an award-winning poet; the 2019 Early Careers Fellow for Literature at Cove Park; on the TSS Publishing list of Best British & Irish Flash Fiction; and winner of the Journal Culture Awards 2021 Performance of the Year for WRITING THE MISSING – A RIVER CYCLE commissioned by Durham Book Festival.
Her debut novel THE SECRET OF HAVEN POINT was published by Puffin in February 2022.