Deb Chilton is an Ipswich artist, business owner and mentor, achieving her goal of living a creative lifestyle thanks to National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) supports.
The 52-year-old, who has cerebral palsy and epilepsy, accesses support workers to assist her in exhibiting her art, attending exhibitions and improving her business.
“I am not truly happy unless I am creating,” she said.
“My support workers help me obtain supplies to create artworks, offer support in the art studio, attend art galleries and hang art for my exhibitions.”
Deb also recognises the importance of technology to promote her work, and uses support workers to take photos of her art, setting up zoom lenses on a camera and getting the best angles.
“A large part of my community access support is around my visual arts practice and building my brand,” she said.
“It is no use doing an event or painting if I’m not going to use social media (to promote my business).”
As an active member of the Ipswich arts community for more than 20 years, Deb says having the support and resources not only helps her with her own art, but also supports her passion to assist other people with disability and to enable inclusive art spaces for all.
“I run two small businesses, ‘Doodles and Dribble’, through which I sell my artwork, and ‘Ignite Artists Network’, to assist other artists living with disability to fully participate in the life of the Ipswich community,” she said.
“My motivation, underlying every project I engage in, is to facilitate opportunities for myself and others; we (people with disability) are quite capable of making a contribution and belonging.
“In 2013, I founded ‘ArtISability’ (now called ‘Ignite Artists Network’), a professional development visual arts workshop program; the industry networks and skills I gained in building this program has enhanced my ability to coordinate small scale workshop programs.”
Since showing her first solo Ipswich exhibition five years ago and her first Brisbane exhibition at the Greaser Gallery three years ago, Deb continues to hold exhibitions, attend art awards and apply for grants to continue her work.
In 2020, Deb received an Art Queensland stART grant for ‘Deb’s Digital Den’ and a Regional Arts Development Fund grant for the Ipswich Artists in Residency Kindergarten Workshop Program.
“While many artists seek specific funding for artists living with disabilities, I am able to successfully compete for mainstream funding… (working) in the mainstream artist’s community while advocating for the development of inclusive art spaces,” she said.
“Telling my own story can play a powerful role in creating social change; at the core of my heart is the fight for an inclusive arts culture.
“My work is rarely addressing disability issues, and I work closely with the Drawing Point Gallery in Ipswich, and Aspire Gallery in Brisbane; I am a part of the Brisbane Rotary International Art Spectacular each year and can hold my own in the open art market.”
Three years ago, a local kindergarten approached Deb to become an Artist in Residence, which she continues to do.
“I have an artist in residency booked for the second term at a local kindergarten, with funding for three kindys (as part of the) Ipswich Artist Emerging Program, to inject an understanding of what it means to be an artist as a career,” she said.
Deb also took part in the Carers Queensland NDIS Ipswich ‘Be Your Own Boss’ stall for International Day of People with Disability in December, showcasing her mixed media art works.
“It was an excellent opportunity for exposure, networking and sales,” she said.
Deb received assistance to apply for and implement her NDIS funding from Carers Queensland’s NDIS Local Area Coordination Partner in the Community Program for the Ipswich region.
She said she hoped by building a support system for herself, it will enable her to continue to grow as an artist.
“My NDIS plan is written to enable me to grow in confidence and to allow me to self-direct, with the freedom to travel safely and confidently within Australia to continue the work I am passionate about,” she said.
Carers Queensland can support you to find out more about the NDIS, to apply for funding and to help you get started with the NDIS.
If you have a disability but are not eligible for the NDIS, Carers Queensland can help you identify and link to options for support in your community.
You can also contact Carers Queensland on 1300 999 636, or email@example.com
Find out more about Deb’s art at: https://www.facebook.com/DoodlesDribble