Lesley Illingworth is an elder, working class woman, a visual multi media artist, who specializes in textiles and embroidery. She finally gained entry into the university system at the 56 years of age. She began documenting the austerity cuts in an exhibition called Shoddy in Leeds 2016, then became involved in a guerilla exhibition of disabled artists in Tate Modern turbine gallery for two hours in 2016. It was organized by The PCS Cultural sector and DPAC and is in the Arts4rights gallery online. This work called Story Telling Coat developed after reading research by Strathclyde Centre for Disability research and Glasgow Media Unit called Bad News for Disabled People: How the
newspapers are reporting disability, and showed how newspapers had increased their use of mocking and belittling language about disabled people. The Story Telling Coat displayed hand embroidered affirmative words describing disabled peoples good qualities on the outside of the coat. And on the lining inside, around the yolk of the coat it named the cabinet of the Tory government. While on the rest of the lining, it named the names of the 320 Conservative MPs who voted for the 30 pound austerity cut to benefits. Alternating with the names of deceased people from the Cullum’s list who had reportedly died from benefit cuts affecting their lives. It is now in the Universal Discredit Show Online organized by Unite Community Leeds and Wakefield Union.
As an older woman she was too old to gain a grant for an MA but too young to retire as the pension age had been increased by 6 years. She made her current work, created during the pandemic. It Is called Artists and Disability oppression: Up Close and intensive. It is an installation of 14 painted and embroidered artworks which where created about her life experience of these two oppressions. At the moment, partly because of the pandemic it has been challenging to get this work seen in an exhibition In real life however, she continues to put it out into the world as it is a subject that very much needs to be seen and debated.