The Galleries' recent programme for visually impaired people has included the following events:

  • Sculpture workshops, using clay, plaster and polystyrene, were inspired by twentieth-century and baroque sculptures in the exhibitions Out of Place (Dean Gallery) and Choice (RSA Building).

  • Francis Bacon: Portraits and Heads (Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art) gave the impetus to explore oil painting materials and techniques. Participants stretched and sized canvas, then experimented with oil paint combined with different media and waxes. This approach was developed with the Gauguin’s Vision exhibition (RSA Building), when participants created a narrative oil painting of their own.

  • An exhibition of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s photographs allowed participants to discuss how photography works and handle different kinds of cameras. They used Photoshop software to manipulate images taken with digital cameras, increasing the contrast and improving visibility for some of the participants.

  • Exhibitions of watercolours by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and JMW Turner offered the chance to experiment with watercolour equipment and techniques such as stretching paper and using washes.

  • Descriptions of the installations, plus discussions about the significance and meaning of objects, took place in the exhibition Selective Memory. Afterwards, participants chose objects, pressed them into clay blocks to fashion a mould, then mixed and poured plaster to create a plaster sculpture. An interesting object was thus created, revealing something of the maker’s life.

  • Different methods of representing a person’s character were discussed in conjunction with the BP Portrait Award exhibition and the subsequent clay sculpture workshop.

These small-group sessions created an informal but challenging learning environment with an enjoyable social aspect. They also provided particular encouragement for people who had recently lost their sight.