This summer, Mansfield District Council is set to welcome giant inflatable sculptures in the district to celebrate and explore themes of disability and activism.

The two figures, Changing Places Inflatable and Jason and his Argonaut, have been created by internationally acclaimed artist Jason Wilsher-Mills, a disabled designer who uses iPads and Wacom tablets to create bright, celebratory work. Jason’s talents lie in digital drawings that are transformed into huge inflatable works that use visually captivating and joyful sculptures to begin serious conversations about disability.

This exciting and free exhibition will be popping down to the Market Place for two days on Friday 14 and Saturday 15 July.

The display is part of the wider OneFest event, an arts and culture festival that aims to smash the stigma learning disabled and autistic people face in society daily and be counted in the fight to give them better opportunities. OneFest is held during a weeklong celebration from Saturday 15 July to Friday 21 July, in Mansfield’s town centre.

Speaking about the upcoming exhibition, Councillor Stuart Richardson, Portfolio Holder for Regeneration and Growth, said: “We’re beyond excited that this vibrant and vital exhibition is coming to Mansfield.

“It comes at an important time for the council as we begin the process of building new Changing Places in the town centre. Being able to collaborate with Jason on his exhibition will bring to light the reason why creating these spaces is so important.”

This exhibition has been made possible thanks to funding from Arts Council England, as the council successfully became part of the National Portfolio Organisation in 2022.

The two sculptures coming to Mansfield will be adorned with large tattoos that express love and connect with Jason’s northern working-class roots. The Changing Places inflatable addresses fundamental human rights and respect centred on access to Changing Places toilets.

Mansfield District Council are currently in the process of creating a number of these spaces across the town, following the successful bid in March 2022, where the authority was awarded £183,200 from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to deliver two Changing Spaces in Mansfield Museum and another at the Four Seasons Shopping Centre.

Changing Places toilets provide a dignified and hygienic option for people who need and deserve it. The facility includes things such as height adjustable adult changing bench, a ceiling track hoist, a peninsular toilet with space for two assistants, a privacy screen along with practical items such as wide paper rolls, a large waste disposal bin, a backrest on the toilet seat and a height-adjustable wash basin.

Artist Jason Wilsher-Mills added: “Changing Places helps many disabled people participate in day-to-day activities. Without access to such places, many disabled people are forced to stay home or be changed in unhygienic spaces, such as bathroom floors.

“As visitors pass through the tunnel of the inflatable, they will be able to read the words from those with this lived experience, along with lightbox digital paintings and highly ornate wallpaper.

“I hope both of these inflatables will spark the conversation around disability and encourage people and employers to work with us to ensure we provide better opportunities for people with disabilities.”

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