Exceptional & Extraordinary aimed to stimulate and inspire discussion and influence wider public debate at a time of significant changes to disabled peoples’ lives, challenging societal views of difference and the implications of a society that values some lives more than others.

The opportunity to debate, discuss and explore the themes emerging from the four artworks with the artists and experts from medicine, museums and disability activism was built into the programme of performances. Audiences could take part in museum handling sessions with real objects, debate with artists and invited speakers after each show, and give their response to the performance through response cards, ’vox pops’ interviews or Twitter (@UnrulyBodies). One performance at the Royal London Hospital Museum and Archives was held with a specially invited audience of medical professionals and students, which generated a thoughtful discussion about current medical practice, its underlying values and treatment of difference.

This approach generated a rich environment for debate, for audiences to engage with and respond to the issues raised by the artworks and to get closer to the thoughts, values and perceptions of the artists at the heart of the project. This website and extensive press coverage takes the performances to a wider audience, and separate work with medical students embeds different perspectives on difference and disability into their training.

Here we give a flavour of the richness of audience and medical professionals’ and students’ responses to the project.

Photo Credit: Sarah Lee