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The Kid Should See This

A dreamlike swim in an underwater wheelchair: Sue Austin’s ‘Creating the Spectacle’

Filmed among the sea life in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, British multimedia, performance, and installation artist Sue Austin gently swims through the water in a specially-adapted underwater wheelchair.


The dreamlike dive and its subsequent film, Creating the Spectacle: Finding Freedom, were created as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad in conjunction with the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics. “Since then her artwork has been viewed globally by over 150 million people, helping to reshape preconceptions by creating positive images and narratives.” More from Colossal:

Her underwater wheelchair is adapted from a standard-issue National Health Service chair, with battery-powered propellers and perspex aerofoils to control turns. Austin hopes that the adaptations will be more widely available at diving centers in the future to make diving more inclusive.

underwater wheelchair sue austin

A statement on her website explains, “she aims to find dramatic and powerful ways to re-position disability and Disability Arts as the ‘Hidden Secret’. She argues that this ‘secret’, if explored, valued and then shared, can act to heal the divisions created in the social psyche by cultural dichotomies that define the ‘disabled’ as ‘other’.”

underwater wheelchair sue austin
Learn more about Austin’s work at wearefreewheeling.org.uk.

See more amazing projects including Izzy Wheels: Sisters create an artist-designed wheelchair wheel cover business and The Rolling Dance Chair, an omnidirectional, hands-free wheelchair. Plus: What does the wheelchair symbol actually mean?

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