A disabled artist who was condemned by homelessness to live in a hotel room which was inaccessible has drawn on the experience to send a strong message about the obstacles often faced by people who have impairments.
Christopher Samuel was inspired by having to spend three months in a hotel rom in which he had to sleep in his wheelchair because he couldn’t even get into bed. He set about designing an inaccessible room and making it as annoying as possible.
The room is one of the attractions at Art B&B in Blackpool. Other artists have come up with themes including overhead light installations, neon slogans and meditative soundscapes but Christopher decided he would raise awareness among non-disabled people of accessibility issues.
He told the BBC how he ended up living in the hotel room: “I was technically made homeless by two local councils, who were arguing over my care costs and access needs.
“I couldn’t move around the room freely. It was very tight. For me to get in the door, I had to go into a little corner, then I had to shut the door behind me and I had to reverse out and navigate around the bed.
“I couldn’t sit at the table. I had to sleep in my wheelchair – I couldn’t use the bed. I couldn’t shut the bathroom door. I couldn’t use the toilet. I had to use a bucket.”
Christopher added that he couldn’t wash because the shower wasn’t accessible. The bed was difficult to get onto and had barely enough space to squeeze around. The bathroom door didn’t shut, and it got in the way when Christopher reached for the toilet roll dispenser.
He said: “I knew people would find it amusing at first, but in reality when you live that every day it’s not funny anymore. It’s inconvenient, it’s frustrating, it’s humiliating at times.”
Christopher’s room – titled Welcome Inn – has a bed surrounded by a 3ft lip, which you must scramble over every time you want to get in or out. The bathroom door doesn’t close because it hits the toilet, meaning there’s no privacy.
The BBC reports: “There’s a particularly ingenious arrangement for watching TV, and other tricks are likely to leave you exasperated if you want to use basic things like the bedside lights, shelf or table.”
Christopher said: “Anyone with wheelchairs will know that when we go to places that have tables and chairs, a lot of the time you can’t get under them, or they’ll be too high, or there’s a bar in the middle of the table so you have to position yourself to the side.”
Michael Trainor, creative director of Art B&B, said: “You probably wouldn’t spend more than a night in it in reality. I think the novelty would soon wear off.”