Red Pen

Red Pen – This project won People’s Choice Award when it was Exhibited at Shape Open 2018. Photos Rachel Cherry

A full set of books is available to view here:


I chose to write this book with this self help guide tone to demonstrate how people do things unknowingly or accidentally can build up into a what feels like a purposeful attack.


I have had essays back that look like they are bleeding, I then couldn’t read the comments to see if they had some positive elements


Left: People love pointing out spelling and grammar but it can feel like its for their own sake not mine. Right: I have a very short phonological loop so even if you explain to help me I will forget almost instantly. (I also struggle with directions)


Left: Someone was not returning my emails because they thought I was drunk. Right: Steve Redgrave one 5 gold medals because he was really tall not because he was dyslexic. People used to say this to me regularly as support.


Left: Getting work back with only spelling corrections throughout school would make me feel that until my work was spelt correctly there was no point focusing on my content as this was a secondary issue.


Left: I once had to explain to a teacher age 8 that I had spelt countries with only a u by accident and not to gain attention. Right: I don’t want to have to dumb my self down communicate.


I carry a lot of pain about the fact that I have not done as well in exams as my counterparts I have worked harder than. I often explained the concepts to them in the first place.


People rely on their good spelling to be a way making them feel superior. We create coffee table books and Facebook groups of people who have spelt things wrong in public. We don’t invite candidates to interview if they make one spelling error in their application on the pretext that it means they did not care enough (as a dyslexic trust me I care). It is my view that society has made it acceptable to laugh at poor spelling in a way that it no longer able to laugh at many other disabilities.


Random extract from the google search: funny spelling errors

Over my life I have built up pain body of ways that people have put me down for my dyslexia and ways I have had to conceal my poor spelling. I have created a small run of artists books based on the ways that people have accidentally, or on purpose or through understood social norms put me down. I have not corrected any of the spelling or punctuation.

I have sent these books out to 25 different people to comment on in red pen. People have corrected the spellings and reacted to the ideas. Red pen is synonymous with editing and correcting. We can some time edit and correct without taking in the meaning of the text.

I have had several different reactions to this project including this one:

“Spelling is not a measure of a person’s worth. Nor is it my place to make judgement like that. it is rude, uncalled for, and not nice. I am rather ashamed to have ever behaved like that.”


My project set up for a mental health and disability exhibition at Oxford University

2 thoughts on “Red Pen

  1. Genuine dyslexic should be treated sympathetically, particularly where good spelling is less important. They should be able to record their problem.
    However many jobs do require good spelling. The idea that spelling does not matter is incorrect. Misunderstandings & difficulties in making ones thoughts clear are frequent.

    • Thank you for your comments. I agree that spelling does matter but I believe only when the meaning is unclear or cannot be unpicked. For instance most of my errors are phonetic spellings: the meaning can be understood.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s