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‘Layers of Vision’ Exhibition – exploring accessibility

picture of the layers of vision exhibition - figure of a man with a walking stick
"I as Object Un-Seen" by David Johnson

Staff writer Ayushi Goel reviews the exhibition “Layers of Vision”.

Layers of Vision is “an art exhibition that explores the experiences and perspectives of blind and partially sighted (BPS) artists living in a world made for sighted people.”

Visiting the exhibition as a fully-sighted person was quite an eye-opener, it made me think about the blind and partially sighted (BPS) and the challenges they face in situations that require vision. The exhibition mainly focuses on how BPS artists feel going to museums and galleries that might have limited or no accessibility.

In a casual chat with Dr Katharina C Husemann, one of the three people behind the whole exhibition, she described the idea behind the exhibition as their ongoing research on accessibility issues in art exhibitions in UK museums. She went on to explain the three types of access – autonomous, embodied and social access. Autonomous access is the ability to navigate through the exhibition themselves, while embodied and social access allow BPS to have a feeling of belonging.

The exhibition starts with a wall-mounted 3D map to FEEL the space of the gallery. It is encouraged to FOLLOW the signage in an anti-clockwise direction and FIND each artist’s work. The best part about this exhibition is that it has accessibility; there is large print, braille, audio description, and other required facilities.

I personally enjoyed Clarke Reynolds “Fab too Touch”, even though I could not understand anything. All I could see as a fully-sighted person was an ice lolly, but that is not what it says or means. Measuring the size of a door, this artwork is made entirely of braille and thus can only be understood by people who know braille. What the painting says will never be understood by someone like me who does not know braille.

an image of art in braille, looks like an ice lolly to fully-sighted people

“Fab too Touch” by Clarke Reynolds

Every piece of artwork in the exhibition is similarly designed in a way which forces the fully-sighted viewer to think about the BPS and the way they tackle this everyday, but for the BPS, this exhibition is made to be accessible so they feel included as they usually aren’t in regular art exhibitions.

I would recommend everyone who has a chance to visit this exhibition to do this, to do as. It would provide a different view on the issues surrounding disability and would force you to think about them in a way you never have.

The exhibition is free to visit and is on until 16 December 2022 open from Monday – Friday: 10 am-6 pm at the Bush House Arcade.

You can find more information on the exhibition, read about and listen to the artists here

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