This is a preview of our new podcast, in which we speak with people who are blurring the boundaries between the roles of artists, makers, musicians, dancers, coders…

In this part of the conversation, we got into some of the reasons Joanne had chosen to feature bed bugs in her pieces…and this led to some insight into challenges facing Disabled people in Britain at the moment.

🗣 Show transcript


Jo: The bedbugs, they symbolise anything that represses people, and that people have to fight against.

Things that drain you because they literally suck your blood.


So anything that drains you of life, that’s what the bedbugs represent.


And in this story, for Disabled people in the UK, there’s assessments by the Department of Work and Pensions for welfare benefits.


And they’re handed over to private medical companies that … er … have lost their moral compass [laughs].

And it’s a lot about profiteering.


And the assessments, they’re not really fit for purpose.

They’re often flawed.

There’s a lot of mistakes made, and also the whole process is extremely biassed in favour of not giving the award.


It’s very stressful. And if you lose the welfare benefit, or if it’s not awarded, then you have an appeals process, which is very bureaucratic, and very difficult.


It’s practically impossible without any support.

And it’s very hard to get that support, often.

And for many people it’s too much for them.

They cannot go through the process.


And sadly, it’s left a lot of people living in really bad poverty, and thousands of people have actually died in relation to welfare benefit assessments.


Yeah, so the bed bugs represent profiteering companies that are basically profiteering from Disabled people, and causing them a lot of stress.


So that’s one thing that the bedbugs represent.

In UK, for mental health system survivors, there’s also the recovery model.

And that’s become … it’s been hijacked as a cost cutting thing and a reason to take away services.


And it’s become a cure, a false cure that’s saying, "Oh yeah, you’re all better now". Because you’ve done you know, 10 minutes of CBT or whatever.


It oppresses people from becoming, growing into their real authentic self .. and it’s crushing all the great things about their neurodivergence.

It’s basically about fitting in.

So that’s like, an attack, and that’s very draining as well.


So that’s what the bedbugs represent to me.

I connected them with bedbugs because somebody who I won’t name, but they brought bed bugs to my flat by accident!


And so, you have to put the poison down. And you have to lie down asleep on the floor. And then they walk across the poison.

And that’s how you get rid of them… they walk…you have to lie there and attract them.

And you just feel completely powerless.


Gift: good god


Jo: because you know you’re going to sleep as bait for these bedbugs to come and bite you.

So, it felt very much the same as going through these awful assessments.

Meet the team and find out more about Joanne’s artistic practice at

This is a preview of our new video podcast, in which we speak with people who are blurring the boundaries between the roles of artists, makers, musicians, dancers, coders…

It’s about being in a sort of protective veil of mysterious light. And it’s to do with a part of neurodivergence…it is rarely talked about, like, the positive side of it.

Joanne Cox

Toward the start of the conversation we got to talk about some of the ideas behind these pieces. It quickly spread out into thoughts about neurodiversity and music…how other aspects can take priority, and how collaboration between different media can bring unexpected results as we might not always understand the communication going on.

A transcription of the conversation is available by tapping on “show transcript” below.

🗣 Show transcript


Jo: The opening piece stems from when I first jammed with Charles with colour and the cello.

So Charles was making the cello notes into colour in a studio and it just changed the way I played.


[soft cello music interwoven with the pulsating light on the video]


Jo: Yeah, it was like you said, Gift. It was quite a spiritual, soulful experience.

There’s something about light and colour that is very soulful.

So that the first piece, the UK Tree Path and the Canada Tree Walk, it’s the Dragon Cello lighting up these these lights. and it’s just spiritual and soulful and exploring, and mysterious.


And it’s about being in a sort of protective veil of mysterious light. And it’s to do with a part of neurodivergence.

I mean, I can only speak for myself, because everyone experiences it differently.

But it is rarely talked about, like, the positive side of it. And it’s about the positive side of being more sensitive.


Charles: Personally, I felt really strongly connected to that, that way of, I don’t know, playing with the sound and then producing light from that.

It takes me back to why I started doing things like this in the first place.

Because it often involves something like a computer or circuit boards, or whatever.

But really, it’s just that these are the best ways I find to make something that doesn’t fit into the usual the usual norms of how we experience music.

I love stuff that’s got a continuum, say, from sound down into feeling and bass.

And when we think about vibration separately, if people are talking about kind of vibrating objects, coming from a dance music perspective,

I’m thinking well, that that’s just what we were doing back in the day, that’s just, you know…

we would be seeking to make stuff that was more like a roller coaster than a track, or something like that.


Jo: Yeah. [laughs]


Charles: And, and the light in particular, I remember wanting to get into this as a teenager, wanting to make music.

I wanted to make something that would not just take you somewhere else but maybe make people hallucinate or something.

And how would you do that through sound? How could you really play with it?

And it’s quite funny now, kind of, much, much later on, realising that music can do things to you.

And like, if it’s making you hallucinate, then that’s on the surface.

It’s like, there’s some kind of really deep change that might be taking place.

And something like this can maybe help understand that with the verbal communication on something, which usually takes priority, like I think you mentioned earlier, on Kate, there’s a different way of communicating that we might not be aware of.


There are these different ways that we can maybe draw people into that and one of them is through producing this light, and this kind experience that we’re not going to necessarily understand.

But when you’re in the room, developing it together, it’s like there’s something that neither of you are necessarily putting into it.

It feels like there’s something emerging from that, that you don’t have control of… or … maybe I just don’t… I don’t know.


Jo: Yeah! [laughs in agreement]


Kate: I love your description of making a roller coaster, not just a track, like it’s like a full body experience.


Jo: Yeah


Kate: And I do feel that way when I’m listening to Jo’s cello.

Because in my neurodivergent world I would live very much in my head, and my body sometimes almost feels like a different country that I cross the border to go into to do the things I need to do, like use my hands.

So when when I can feel the music in sort of my whole body it’s quite like “oh, wow, I’ve got a body!”

So yeah, I sort of relate to what you’re saying about that, more than just going in your ears and being processed in that kind of way that we normally think of music.


Charles: I don’t remember where I got this but somebody said “sound is essentially an extension of touch”.

It’s like touch long distance and whether we’re hearing that or feeling that, it kind of says to me sometimes sound can be like time travel as well, if you’re listening a to recording…


Jo: yeah,


Charles: yeah, just crossing over and not keeping things in one narrow box.

Meet the team and find out more about Joanne’s artistic practice at

This is a preview of our new video podcast, in which we speak with people who are blurring the boundaries between the roles of artists, makers, musicians, dancers, coders…

We were overjoyed to be able to invite our friends and collaborators Joanne Cox and Kate Lovell on as our first guests. Joanne has been working on the research and development two main projects over the last few years: Defiant Journey and Define Your Journey.

Defiant Journey is a stage show incorporating music (with Joanne’s Dragon Cello filling the space), interactive electronics with vibrations, movement, sign interpretation, and plenty of opportunities to get involved. It’s all about the experience of being a Neurodivergent/Disabled artist in our current time.

Define Your Journey is an interactive online experience which grew out of Defiant Journey during the pandemic. It follows the same themes, uses the same music, but the creative process of bringing this work online, including our cross-continental collaboration, has really changed the shape.

Over the next few posts we’ll be highlighting some key moments from our conversation, before we release the full hour-long episode. And watch this space for more opportunities to start new collaborations!

This is a preview of screen reader access for the bed bug scene in Define Your Journey:

It’s very much work in progress — watch this space for more information!

test element testing

This year we have been collaborating with Joanne Cox as part of a team of artists, producers, and access specialists, to produce a set of interactive video pages, including a small selection of virtual instruments. Please watch the video below to learn more, and try the instrument out for yourself.


Play the instrument here:

Fill out the feedback form here: DYJ feedback form (please let us know if this form is not accessible to you)