Margate exhibition celebrates artworks and disability activism of Lizzy Rose

Lizzy Rose with work at Crate in 2018

A vibrant celebration of the life and work of Lizzy Rose, artist and disability activist, is now on show.

Despite her young age, Lizzy made her mark on the art world with her work campaigning for fairer working conditions for disabled artists. She sadly died aged 33, in January 2022, following a long struggle with chronic illness.

Her legacy is celebrated through the exhibition Things I Have Learned The Hard Way, which runs across four Margate venues –  Turner Contemporary, LIMBO, CRATE & Well Projects –  from now until April 23.

Lizzy in front of a collection of watercolour paintings made in hospital. Published by Crohn’s & Colitis UK, 2014

Nationally, Lizzy was known for her work as a disabled artist, and her campaigning for fairer working conditions for disabled artists will form a lasting legacy. The exhibition showcases a comprehensive collection of Lizzy’s works, spanning over a decade from 2008 to 2022, and encompassing a wide range of mediums, including moving-image, works on paper, sculpture, and digital work.

To commemorate Lizzy’s life and work, a one-off event titled ‘One Day I Will Feel My Power’ will be curated by fellow artist Leah Clements on 12 April at the ICA in London. An online participatory project titled from Lizzy’s own work, ‘Sick Artists Club’, also showcases the everyday creativity of housebound artists.

Lizzy Rose, self – portrait in hospital gown in 2021

Curators Katie and Matthew said: “We wanted the title to be in Lizzy’s own words. The complexities of Lizzy’s illness were not always understood, even by the medical professionals that worked with her.  The title ‘Things I Learned the Hard Way’, comes from a document she made to give to her medical teams to explain some of the specifics of her condition, to avoid having to repeat herself, and reduce the anxiety that came from spending long periods of time in different hospitals.”

The exhibition will re-stage some of Lizzy’s most immersive works and bring together works on paper- drawings and collage. The works selected span a decade from her degree show at Central Saint Martins to her last completed video work, ‘Sick Blue Sea’ (2019).

The project is supported by Arts Council England, Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation, and hundreds of people who generously donated to the project crowdfunder.