Paralysed sailor Hilary Lister subject of video artwork

Released to coincide with the 2012 Paralympic Games, ‘Sailing Out of Grain‘, a multi-screen film portrait of record-breaking quadriplegic sailor Hilary Lister, is the result of her remarkable collaboration with artist Juan delGado.

The £52,000 Arts Council-funded project was filmed over several months and shows how the yachtswoman, paralysed from the neck down, finds her freedom on the water.

The one-time biochemistry student, now 40, began losing mobility aged just 15. She took up sailing in 2005 using a ‘sip and puff’ steerage system and that same year sailed solo across the English Channel. In 2009 she became the first disabled woman to sail solo around Britain.

To achieve the on-water shots needed for this intimate portrait, Spanish-born film artist delGado had to learn to sail from scratch, training at the UK Sailing Academy in Cowes in April. He admitted he was not prepared for the physicality of sailing, but that it made him appreciate that Hilary Lister is, above all, a sailor.

Now Hilary is trying to find a Class 40 boat so that she can race against able-bodied and disabled sailors. ‘When I am in the sea I am free,’ she says, ‘I can make my own decisions.’

Edited into single, three and five-screen formats varying from four to ten minutes in duration, ‘Sailing Out of Grain’ appears on Weymouth’s big screen during the Paralympics. The installation can be viewed from 8-29 September at the Lighthouse Arts Centre, Poole, Dorset, and will tour other UK venues before heading abroad.

For more information on the project visit www.sailingoutofgrain.wordpress.comHilary Lis