The Artist’s View
Juliana Capes, the artist who has most regularly worked on the programme, is one of many participants who have found the experience stimulating and rewarding:
‘When I first started working in an artistic capacity with visually impaired people, I was stumped as to how the “visual” arts could translate into a non-visual world. But this project has taught all those involved that the power of art goes way beyond the eyes, and in fact encompasses all the senses, the intellect and the emotions.
‘The workshops have consistently stretched and challenged the participants to rethink their approach to their disability by focusing on other senses and finding new abilities. Our focus has been on having an open mind and a willingness to investigate.
‘Every workshop is planned thoroughly in order to translate traditional techniques into ones that make sense for visually impaired participants. This approach challenges the empathy and creativity of the workshop leaders to devise techniques that can be satisfying for all, and to take into account differing visual abilitities, preferences and confidence.
‘Describing artworks for those without sight makes you use your own eyes differently and notice things that you usually wouldn’t. It also stretches your language skills to describe without subjectivity, with sufficient detail and with empathy. I’m always struck by how much the tours become a two-way discussion, with the questions of the participants shaping the tour.
‘My involvement in the programme has given me so much satisfaction. The group’s participants regularly voice how much they enjoy it. Recently a participant said that the project had “opened her eyes”, which I feel is the best endorsement it could have’.