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Sensing Every Space - A Different Way of Seeing

Sensing Every Space is a journey round South Hill Park in 50 abstract paintings.

As soon as I received the call for artists email in September 2021 I knew that I wanted to create a series of digital paintings, to be displayed as a digital installation, accompanied by audio recordings and poetry exploring my Sense of Space at South Hill Park as a blind person.

Most people think that my life has shrunk and become miserably slow since becoming disabled. But the truth is that my life has become deeper, richer and more intense as I appreciate every moment and sense every space. My hope is that my installation will encourage people to stop and journey slower, as I have had to, as I've become disabled.

As a blind artist I paint digitally. I use the vision I have left, and my iPad with it's wonderful magnification, to see photographs, 1% at a time and in my mind build up a full picture. Then, in the same way, I can paint in tiny sections and hope that together they work as a painting.

I could have shown a series of these landscape paintings, but right from the start I wanted to try and express how I "sense" the grounds beyond what might be "seen". I wanted to invite people to gain an insight into how those of us with limited sight experience the world.

The installation invites you to see beyond the views you take for granted, that I took for granted when I could see as you see. It invites you to "sense" the spaces around you when you wander around the grounds at South Hill Park.

My aim is to give you some small insight into how those of us with limited sight experience the world. Instead of being able to identify a space at a glance, you will need to stop and journey slower, spending time wondering…

What can I see?

What can I hear?

How do I feel?

Where was this painting inspired?

In what season was this painted?

How does this painting make me feel, beyond what I can see?

And then, thinking about the installation as a whole…

Do any of these paintings stand out to me?


What about it am I drawn to?

And perhaps most importantly….

How might my experience of this installation change how I journey around spaces and view places?

As well as creating a piece of visual art, I wanted to make my installation as accessible as possible to people with visual impairments.

I always knew that the installation would be audible as well as visual. I recorded the sounds on my visits at South Hill Park and researched how art is audio described.

Long story short - hardly any art is audio described, less than 1% even in the major art galleries; and there's a lot of debate about how best to describe visual art.

With no manual to follow, I experimented with different ways of describing my paintings.

I started off by writing poetry about them….

Stilling busy thoughts

Journeying in the moment

Sensing every space

Space to begin

Space to connect

Space between

Space to relax

Space to hide

Space to seek

Space to journey

Space to lose yourself

Space to reflect

Space to observe

Space to slow down

Space to listen

Space to focus

Space to refresh

Space to explore

Space to wander

Space to wonder

Space to grow

Space to create

Space to be

As the summer ends

Colours indicate changes

Space for winter's rest

Time to take it slow

Notice minutiae of life

Nothing stays the same

Sun rays bring new warmth

Life notices, springing forth

Nature's new blessings

Space to follow

Space to notice

Space to hear

Space to reach

Space to water

Space to spring

Space to stop

Space to take flight

Space to move

Space to expand

Space to get lost

Space to question

Space to gather

Space to stretch

Space to float

Space to dream

Space to reroot

Space to sprout

Space to hear

Space to be me

Although this poem added something to the installation, it didn't adequately describe the visual aspect of the paintings, it didn't delve into the imagery.

My second attempt at audio description was to create pure descriptions of the paintings, but as abstract pieces this also missed the mark and almost obscured the sense I was trying to convey.

Eventually, with input from a few visually impaired friends, I settled on a middle ground which describes both the "look" of each painting and the sense I was exploring.

Here's are two examples