The Loughborough University PhD student joined a stellar line-up of the very best of British music and entertainment on Sunday 12 September to provide an epic celebration of the ParalympicsGB athletes and their achievements at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
The visual and performance artist had just three minutes to paint a 3mx3m piece on stage that reflects and celebrates the efforts of the athletes to music by percussionist Evelyn Glennie and violinist Michael A. Levine.
Animations of Rachel’s previous pieces played while she worked and her bold brushstrokes and high energy meant it was a performance to remember.
Switch - 3mins 16mins— Rachel Gadsden (@RachelGadsden) September 16, 2021
Rachel Gadsden performs in collaboration with @Dame @DameEvelyn #MichaelALevine during the National Lottery's #paralympicsGBhomecoming Celebration at @ssearena on September 12, 2021, London
Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images for The National Lottery pic.twitter.com/yqVR3CEZus
“All three of us – Evelyn, Michael and I – came together from different places and from working on different things and just exploded in this space together. I still can’t believe we managed it!”, Rachel said of the performance.
“This is the first time I have come out of isolation, and I was like a jack in the box.
“From Saturday, everything started building up and it was all so chaotic – at one point I had to check if I was breathing because of all the tension! But it was amazing.”
Rachel, who has a visual impairment and a chronic hereditary lung condition, which has resulted in her having a syringe driver fitted that injects her with drugs once a minute, has now received commissions relating to the Paralympic Games for Beijing, London, Sochi, Rio, and Tokyo.
Of the Games, she said: “I think the Paralympics has contributed and continues to contribute towards a shift in public awareness of disability and the breakdown of ableism in society.
“It makes disability visible, and if it is visible, there are opportunities for change.”
Rachel’s performance and the homecoming event, which was aired by Channel 4, can be watched online here.