Right Hear, Right Now Exhibition - Interview
Hard of hearing photographer Kate Disher-Quill has arrived in Melbourne with her Right Hear, Right Now exhibition. We sat down and talked to her about it.
Why did you start this project?
Three years ago, I read this article about a girl who was deaf and she wrote about her experiences growing up and what it was like always being left out, missing punchlines in jokes and it felt like I was reading about myself. I felt so connected to something, and it was something that I was so ashamed of and never told anyone about and suddenly there was this piece of writing that I related to. I felt so emotional and it made me think what is the big deal? It made me think that if I could provide that same link that the article gave me and what it did to me, I wanted to be able to do that for other people and so that’s why I created the project. I feel like if I had of seen this when I was younger, it really would have made a difference.
Is that what you are hoping that this is going to do?
Yes! I ‘ve already had that experience in Sydney and Canberra and that’s very reassuring. In some ways it’s really hard to keep going with the project because it’s quite exhausting but it’s those moments that have really made me realise why I’ve done it and that I need to keep sharing it hope that as many people see it. A mother brought her deaf daughter to my Sydney show and when she walked in, it was like oh my God! She was so excited and the mother emailed me afterwards saying that her daughter had been going through a tough time and this exhibition had flipped her and encouraged her to join a deaf theatre group and helped her want to embrace her deafness. It’s one story like that , that makes me realise, yep, this is all worth it.
How long has this project taken you?
It’s been about years-worth of work, organizing and meeting with people that I had never met before and getting the perfect photo in the limited amount of time that we had. Sometimes I would visit a few times just because I thought about how we could get a better photo to portray their story. I wanted to show the beauty of Auslan and I’ve done that as well through film using it as poetry showing it in a visual way for those who have not experienced Auslan before. Deafness is so diverse and I wanted to capture a range of issues, stories and experiences.
"The hardest part was photographing someone in an engaging way that captures something that you can’t see. The photos are an attempt to capture the story of the subjects, some are quite abstract and others are detailed photos. I wanted to make it artistic and beautiful to look at visually."
Is this your biggest show yet?
Yes, I think so because Melbourne is a lot more engaged with their arts and also the deaf community down here in Melbourne is lot more connected and there’s a lot of arts focus within the deaf community. I always knew that I wanted Melbourne to be a great show, so that’s why I kind of waited. A lot of people will recognise the subjects in my work because they are actually from Melbourne and are part of the community down here.
Why have chosen to display it at the No Vacancy Gallery?
I wanted a place that was easy to get to, very central, so that’s why I’ve chosen this gallery to display my exhibition because it’s in the CBD. I needed a space that was the right size for all of my artwork, films and displays, that was the hardest part. It also has a coffee shop within the gallery so I hope that also helps to encourage more people to come inside and have a look whilst enjoying a beverage.
How did you transport all of your artwork to Melbourne?
I actually hired and drove down in a camper van with all of my artwork. Couriers were just too expensive so I decided to use a camper van relocation service where I paid a dollar a day to relocate the camper van from Sydney to Melbourne. It really easy because it had all the space that I needed for all my pieces.
Growing up, did you have any contact with deaf children?
No! The only deaf and hard of hearing people that I have really met and become friends with are through this project. I never really talked to anyone other than my grandmother about my deafness and so this project has really opened me up as well. I’ve had people come into the exhibition who also have never talked or socialized with another deaf person themselves so it’s been an experience for myself to connect not only myself but others with the deaf and hard of hearing community.
Why should deaf and hard of hearing people come?
To come and read about some experiences that you may relate to and can connect with. Connecting with people’s experiences through art and also to look at some really nice pieces of art and photography and film. I hope that it empowers people to not feel the need to hide behind themselves, but to embrace it and be excited by it and to realise that it is something special to celebrate.
After this, what’s next?
Making a book of this. I always knew that this needed to live beyond the gallery because there’s only so many people who can come and see it. It needs to have a permanent life so that it can continue to empower others.