Building queer crip spaces from the ground up

A new lifesaving club will be popping up in Melbourne’s north-east, open to both physical and digital engagements – hint, it’s not for surfers.

A new built-for-purpose space for artists with disability is coming to town in Melbourne. The North Preston Lifesaving Club is ‘a gift that keeps on giving’, co-founder Billie Parsons tells ArtsHub. Built on a vision shared by Parsons and fellow artist Jeremy Hawkes, the North Preston Lifesaving Club was born out of the need to provide queer and disabled artists with accessible and affordable spaces where they can experiment and connect with community.

Hawkes says: ‘Accessibility these days is starting to mean accessibility for all sorts of people, for all sorts of reasons. Disability has a history in art and culture of being an “issue” – things have [improved], but we’ve still got a long way to go. So the name of the place is also trying to dismantle those cool catchphrases that only focus on the “ability” part.’

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Celina Lei is an arts writer and editor at ArtsHub. She acquired her M.A in Art, Law and Business in New York with a B.A. in Art History and Philosophy from the University of Melbourne. She has previously worked across global art hubs in Beijing, Hong Kong and New York in both the commercial art sector and art criticism. Most recently she took part in drafting NAVA’s revised Code of Practice - Art Fairs. Celina is based in Naarm/Melbourne. Instagram: @lleizy_