An exhibition, entitled Do you see what I see?, will open this month as part of the Wandsworth Arts Fringe in London. The exhibition includes pieces by artists who are part of the Windows of the Soul project and contains braille art, traditional paintings, print work and other examples of work by or with visually impaired people describing what they see to a professional artist.
In the UK, more than 2 million people are living with sight loss. Of these, around 340,000 are registered as blind or partially-sighted. The aim of the exhibition is to raise awareness of the realities of sight loss and to quash presumptions that art is not possible if someone’s sight is lost or impaired. The artists also strive to demonstrate that their art is beautiful and remarkable in its own right and that their sight impairment can enhance and not hamper it. It is also important for the artists to show their work as a collective, truly highlighting and boosting their own and the overall sight-loss message. The pieces show a broad spectrum of the impact of some sight-loss conditions.
Lindsey Whitelaw is a painter and landscape architect and founding artist for the exhibition at Outlined Gallery. She studied Art and English at Exeter followed by Landscape Design at Manchester. After a brief spell in the public and private sector she set-up a successful Landscape Practice, Whitelaw Turkington in 1991with community outreach at the heart of the design ethos. Since retiring from Landscape practice in 2011 she has returned to painting, exploring her interest and concerns for the environment and overlooked, forgotten or threatened landscapes. In addition, her interest in visual impairment has been ignited by her husband developing macular degeneration and glaucoma.
Lindsey said: "I have painted all my life but had a career as a Landscape Architect which involved community engagement and promoting general health and wellbeing through environmental improvements. With this exhibition I have had the opportunity to direct my art practice along similar lines as my landscape practice through engagement, collaboration and communication."
Aleid's Floating Books (2003), by Lindsey Whitelaw.
One of Lindsey's pieces, entitled Aleid's Floating Books, is an oil work on canvas. It came about from Lindsey's relationship with Aleid, a friend of hers who has a condition which causes double vision. Lindsey showed Aleid an original piece, and then recreated it based on Aleid's descriptions of the original.
Lindsey continued: "I have found this a profoundly moving experience and it has certainly raised my awareness, not only of the issues related to sight impairment but also of the fact that many other medical conditions can be detected through the eye.”
Since collaborating, and now with support from The Outlined Gallery, this group of artists have seen the interest in their work increase and awareness is growing. Led by Elizabeth Manuel, there is excitement and interest in the work and what it means beyond the group. With Elizabeth at the helm, it is hoped that there will be many more developments including plans for further collaborations. Elizabeth will work closely with artist Lindsey Whitelaw who was a key part of the Windows of the Soul launch in 2021.
Elizabeth said: "I am proud to be at the forefront of such exciting times for this group of wonderful artists and people. None of us knew at the beginning that this would become so important to each and every one of us. We each have our own stories and journeys to tell, yet sometimes our shared experiences are what has made our group so powerful. I am enthusiastic to see what happens with this exhibition and in the future showing that art is available and possible for anyone even if they have lost sight."
The exhibition will run from 10th June to 25th June at the Outlined Gallery in Nine Elms, Wandsworth 10 am to 10pm (closed Sunday Monday Tuesday). More information can be found here.