Gallery brings art to the visually-impaired with a hands-on tour

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VISUALLY-impaired art lovers were treated to a new way of exploring works at a gallery.

The visitors from Gosport and Fareham visually-impaired reading groups were yesterday given a tour of the Henri Matisse Drawing with Scissors exhibition in Gosport Gallery, Walpole Road.

HANDS-ON Artist Jo Bressloff, with Sue Wright and Carol Todd who are both registered blind. Picture: Ian Hargreaves  (13612-3)

HANDS-ON Artist Jo Bressloff, with Sue Wright and Carol Todd who are both registered blind. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (13612-3)

They were led through a tour and workshops by artist and educator Jo Bressloff, then created their own versions of the French artist’s final works, cutting out card and foam so they could feel the art.

The method mimicked Matisse’s own art, which was formed of overlaid cut out material.

Carol Todd, 55, from Rowallan Avenue in Rowner, Gosport, is almost completely blind.

She was with able-sighted Ken Wright from the Gosport visually-impaired (VIP) reading group, who helped get her to the event and sat with her as she cut out her own artwork at the workshop held in the gallery.

She said: ‘That was interesting – I didn’t cut my fingers.

‘You’re very aware that you don’t want to go over the edge.’

She added: ‘It was interesting to see the different shapes that came out from the cut outs and interesting to hear how the colours work together.’

And Ms Todd was able to experience Matisse’s own work – not by touching the reproductions on show in the gallery – but by moving her hand over a 3D copy.

The Living Painting Trust lent the group white plastic copies of Matisse’s The Snail collage, with sections raised and with different textures for blind people to feel how the work of art is composed of many different sections.

Ms Todd added: ‘Someone describing it to you is their perception of the picture.

‘But to actually feel that thermoform, it actually gives you a better idea of what it’s actually like.’

Councillor Christopher Carter from Hampshire County Council funded the afternoon of activities from his devolved budget from the council.

Volunteers from Give, Gain and Grow, of Gosport Voluntary Action, were also on hand to support staff members from Gosport Discovery Centre.

Lilian O’Hara, 81, of Hill Park Road in Fareham only has vision in her right eye.

She attended with friend and supporter from Fareham VIP, Joyce Robinson.

Ms O’Hara said: ‘We’ve been making shapes, flowers and leaves, making a collage.

‘I wasn’t very good at it, I was better when I was child but it was something very different.’

The day was one of many events run by Gosport Discovery Centre staff to bring the exhibition to different groups of people.