The Gentle; TOUCH Visual Arts A New Exhibition Has Opened in Wales and Visitors Are Encouraged to Actually Touch the Pieces of Work. Julie Richards Finds out about the Display Which Has Been Created by Visually-Impaired as Well as Sighted Artists
SUCCESSFUL British artist Gary Sargeant was determined that his artistic career would not come to a premature end in the early 1980s when he became visually impaired.
Determined to continue creating work, he met an art therapist who helped him produce art in a different way and he quickly established a name for himself with his tactile work, following a solo exhibition in the House of Commons in 2003.
The following year he became the first patron of the charity BlindArt, which has gained worldwide recognition for promoting contemporary works of art by both visuallyimpaired and sighted artists, showcasing them side by side and challenging the public to tell the difference.
The charity's latest show, Touching Art, Touching You, has just opened at MOMA Wales, theMuseumOfModern Art which is in Machynlleth.
It is a revolutionary contemporary art exhibition that offers a different visual art experience for visitors who can touch the work.
The exhibition breaks through traditional hierarchies and barriers in the arts by actively encouraging all works to be explored through touch.
By shifting the established rules of art appreciation from sight to sense of touch, the gallery experience is intimate, fresh and liberating.
Sargeant - whose work has been bought by many British collectors, including some famous names such as the actress Dame Judi Dench and the legendary violinist Yehudi Menuhin - is among 17 artists who are featured in the exhibition.
"Since my childhood I have always felt the need to paint and draw and once I lost most of my sight I began to work differently," he says.
"Having been used to painting work on a large scale during my time producing backdrops for the theatre, I just adapted my work.
"When I was offered an exhibition at the National Library of Wales no-one was aware of my status as a visually-impaired person until I attended the exhibition opening."
The artist believes that art can be enjoyed by everyone, including visually-impaired people.
"There is a strong element of touch in everyone's work, whether it is a painting, sculpture or an installation. …