Quiet Space, 2023

Designed by Robyn Benson
Media, materials and dimensions variable
Commissioned by Te Tuhi, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland

Double Empathy Theory, 2023

Written and designed by Tzipporah Johnston
Digital print
Commissioned by Te Tuhi, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland

Neuk is a neurodivergent artist collective based in Scotland that advocates for neurodivergent* people in the arts. Neuk has provided accessibility consultancy for this exhibition as well as contributing information about neurodiversity and designing a quiet space for Te Tuhi visitors. In collaboration with curator Bruce E. Philllips, Neuk identified a number of opportunities to make Te Tuhi’s exhibitions more accessible, such as providing ear defenders, reading aids and traffic light badges as well as information in numerous formats including easy read, braille, alt-text, large-print, audio and NZSL. These offerings seek to reduce and remove barriers that often exclude and prevent neurominorities and people who are disabled from engaging with exhibitions. Neuk’s quiet space is a low-sensory environment that enables people to rest and recuperate—particularly those neurodivergent people who find busy and loud places overwhelming. In the design, Neuk has incorporated a reading area where visitors can find more information about the exhibition and the topic of neurodiversity. Neuk has also contributed a wall-based illustration explaining the ‘double empathy problem’. The double empathy problem is a theory developed by sociologist and social psychologist Damian Milton which provides an explanation as to why neurotypical people might not always understand autistic people and vice versa. This theory provides insight into how neurodivergence is a normal part of human diversity that requires acceptance and understanding. 

*‘Neurodivergent’ is an inclusive term that covers a wide range of neurominorities including but not limited to: autistic, dyslexic or dyspraxic people, or people with learning disabilities, ADHD, CPTSD, bipolar disorder or Tourette’s syndrome, or any conditions that affect the way that the brain makes sense of the world.