Just like his latest exhibition’s namesake myth, Jason Wilsher-Mills’ journey to becoming an acclaimed artist is a heroic adventure of epic proportions.
Aged 11, Jason caught chickenpox that caused his white blood cells to attack his central nervous system, paralysing him from the neck down. But his recovery surpassed doctors’ expectations and at 18 he went to university to study fine art.
He became an art teacher, taught in HM Prison Leeds, and rose to department head of an FE college. But aged 30 another infection worsened his disabilities and ended his teaching career.
Father to two young children and suddenly unable to earn a living, he decided to paint his way out of his predicament.
However, his disability meant he could no longer paint with oils, so he picked up an iPad, teaching himself how to embrace the pixel and use digital technology in his work.
His large-scale, humorous and multi-hued artworks swifty became sought-after and his exhibitions have toured the world. And his latest exhibition, Jason & His Argonauts, is now on at Wentworth Woodhouse for all to see until 18th June.
Lightbox installations, wall hangings and intricately decorated fibreglass celebrating disability and Jason’s Northern working-class heritage will be displayed on the ground floor and gardens of the Grade I listed stately home, making it fully accessible for all.
The exhibition also includes a 3.5-metre-long inflatable Changing Places Argonaut – a sculpture created to support the Changing Places campaign, which calls on all large UK public venues to install fully-accessible toilets, equipped with height-adjustable changing benches and hoists.
Ahead of the exhibition, Jason staged workshops for members of ArtWorks South Yorkshire, Rotherham Opportunity College and Sheffield-based Under The Stars – organisations which help adults with learning disabilities to achieve their potential. They were taught by Jason how to create art with iPads and made striking digital images of their faces and favourite things.
To book tickets, visit the Wentworth Woodhouse website.