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Nothing About Us Without Us

  • Free
  • Discussion
  • British Sign Language
  • Auto-captioned

Watch a recording of artists Dolly Sen, Christopher Samuel and disability historian Professor David Turner to hear about their experiences as users of Wellcome Collection and the methods they used to research the suppressed histories of disability.

Dolly discusses her current project, ‘Birdsong From Inobservable Worlds’. Using literature, performance and film, Dolly’s work explores and challenges the mental health archives as a gay, biracial woman with personal experience as an inpatient and student of the mental health system.

Christopher discusses his project ‘The Archive of the Unseen’. This multi-format interactive project tells the wider story of what it was like to grow up black, disabled and working class in 1980s Britain. Using the collections, Christopher addresses differences and similarities in the challenges faced historically by disabled people, and how this has been mediated over time through advocates such as Scope.

Professor David Turner discusses how disabled people’s experiences have been erased from histories of work and industrialisation, and how this history might be recovered from the archives and/or presented in public spaces such as museums. His current research explores the long history of disabled people’s political activism in Britain since the 18th century.

PhD candidate in the History of Art and Medieval Studies, Jess Bailey chairs the event. She has recently published research on disability based on her placement at Wellcome Collection.




Need to know

British Sign Language

This event is British Sign Language interpreted. An interpreter will be embedded in the event stream/visible to all attendees and will interpret what is discussed into BSL for d/Deaf, hard of hearing and deafened attendees.


There will be auto-generated captions for this event.

For more information, please visit our Accessibility page. If you have any queries about accessibility, please email us at access@wellcomecollection.org or call 0 2 0. 7 6 1 1. 2 2 2 2

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About your contributors

Black and white, head and shoulders portrait of Jess Bailey.

Jess Bailey


Jess Bailey is a PhD candidate in the History of Art and Medieval studies at the University of California, Berkeley. She has published research on disability at Henry Wellcome’s Historical Medical Museum in ‘Kritische Berichte’ and on sex work in 16th-century drawing culture in ‘Disability and Art History’ from Routledge.

Black and white portrait of Dolly Sen's head and shoulders. Her tattooed arms are resting on a glass cabinet.

Dolly Sen


Dolly Sen has a brain of ill repute. Because of this, she is an internationally renowned writer, filmmaker, artist and troublemaker. She is a working-class, Brown, Queer person who is interested in the disability and madness given to us by the world. Dolly Sen recently received a combined arts project award in collaboration with Unlimited and Wellcome Collection to develop ‘Birdsong From Inobservable Worlds’, which explores and challenges the narrative in existing mental health archives, and adds missing voices to the current archives of madness.

Black and white headshot of Christopher Samuel

Christopher Samuel


Christopher Samuel is a multi-disciplinary artist whose practice is rooted in identity and disability politics, often echoing the many facets of his own lived experience. Seeking to interrogate his personal understanding of identity as a disabled person impacted by inequality and marginalisation, Christopher responds with urgency, humour and poetic subversiveness within his work. This approach makes his work accessible to a wider audience, allowing others to identify and relate to a wider spectrum of human experience.

Black and white, head and shoulders portrait of Professor David Turner

Professor David Turner


David Turner is Professor in Disability History at Swansea University. He has published several books on his research, most recently ‘Disability in the Industrial Revolution: Physical Impairment in British Coalmining 1780–1880’ (co-authored with Daniel Blackie), published by Manchester University Press in 2018.