The past two days have been great. The participatory sessions with blind and visually impaired people took place, and I am thrilled with how they went.

The failure of one of the large organisations to step up to the mark left me floundering in some respects, but thanks to the direct support of individuals and small groups (and the power of Twitter) the word was spread widely. The downside is that the relatively short notice period made it difficult for people to attend, so numbers were fewer than I had planned for. Happily, though, that proved to be a great positive. I was able to spend much more time than anticipated with participants on a one-to-one basis, and really gain from being close to the interaction.

I was hoping, perhaps optimistically, that I might just be able to give something back by getting someone engaged with contemporary art that may not otherwise have become so. Wow! One of the attendees was a visually impaired MA Fine Art student with macular degeneration. She told me I had (her choice of words) opened her eyes to new ways of thinking about her approach to her own work. Best of all, one of yesterday’s participants, when I asked her what she thought of the work, said she couldn’t stop smiling. She had never been to anything to do with contemporary art before.



A lot has happened over the past week or so, and most of it, but not all, has been good. I won’t dwell on some of the not-so-good parts. Having said that, at the time of writing this the internet was down….

The weekend was very good. Matt Roberts had come down for one-to-one sessions with artists at Art Space, and to give two evening talks. Feedback from everyone I have spoken to so far has been extremely positive, even though most people (including me) have been reminded in some way of the work they have still to do!

I installed the exhibition at Art Space on Monday, and mostly it went well. I had to make some adjustments to one of the pieces at the last moment, which meant that it didn’t work quite as intended. I have no-one to blame but myself for this – I didn’t allow for a contingency in the installation time. Ordinarily I would have taken the piece away altogether, but there is a strong element of experimentation involved.

Also on Monday evening I hosted a crit group. This was organised by arc – the Artist Resource Centre based at Aspex. A dozen artists, some of whom I met for the first time, came to look at and to discuss the work. This was an interesting exercise. I hadn’t expected everyone to like the work (I never do), and I had wondered how many would grasp the concepts. It don’t consider it to be the most accessible work, but there was much encouraging feedback, and many were prepared to engage. Bizarrely though, on leaving, one participant said that he loved the work, but that he thought I was being a little disingenuous. That simply isn’t true. There is no benefit to me in having a crit group and playing that sort of game.

I took a call from a picture editor at the local news while I was out and about on Tuesday. They wanted some pictures of the works from the exhibition. I said I thought I would be surprised if they went with it, but I managed to get back to the studio in time to send in some images. I’ll pick up a paper today and see. Could be interesting….

I found out that my blog on A-N was again in the top ten. This was a pleasant surprise, not least because there are several others that I find infinitely more interesting than mine. Speaking of arc, they forwarded a link to their blog which mentions my installation in the arc space at Aspex. I think I must have missed this first time around. They are currently showing ‘Deliverance’ by Mike Bartlett and two others. I also heard that Morph Plinth arrived eventually at Sluice Art Fair. I don’t know as yet where else it turned up (there was talk of it being smuggled into Frieze and an embassy), but I’ll let you know if I find out.

David Minton’s comment about my drawing ‘Reliquary of Conceits’ at the Salon 2011 exhibition in Vyner Street made my day.

Lastly, yesterday and today, I have participatory/discussion sessions with blind and visually-impaired people at the exhibition. This is to form a part of the research for my current strand of work, and the primary reason for the exhibition. I am very excited about this, and thrilled that people are prepared to travel to take part.


In addition to the usual posters and stuff, I have ordered large print and braille info sheets for the exhibition, and learnt in the process that there are two types of braille available. In working on various aspects of this project I have come to realise that I take a lot for granted. Little things sometimes, like the language I use on a daily basis without a second thought.

I remain disappointed in the lack of follow-up and support from certain channels, but I have to roll with it. Tellingly, perhaps, the large organisations have been next to useless, whilst the smaller groups have, in the most part, been very helpful.

I have to make final decisions about the works I am going to show. Some of the choices have been made easier for me – either because there is not the room, or the works aren’t quite ready enough (or I’m not sure they are ready enough to let go just yet). A couple more days….


I went to a great talk at Portsmouth University yesterday afternoon, given by Dominique Ghesquiere, the artist on the Art Space Portsmouth International Residency 2011. I had previously only seen a few examples of her work on the blog, so it was a good opportunity to see more of her work. I had a feeling the work was going to be my kind of thing, and I wasn’t disappointed. I thoroughly enjoyed it. An exhibition – the culmination of the residency programme – takes place at the end of November, taking in three sites around the city.

For my own practice, I am trying to drum up support for forthcoming discussion sessions with blind and partially sighted people (details here). Twitter has been a great help in spreading the word (so far tweets have been fed to approaching 16,000 people!), but finding participants is not straightforward. People have expressed interest from as far afield as Glasgow, but there are obvious logistical limitations. Some of the channels I had expected to be the most useful are proving, surprisingly, to be something of a let down.


The 3D painting project is well under way. Preliminary stages have yielded some finished works, I have a pile of materials in the studio, another behind the sofa, more under the bed… I desperately need more studio space!

I have had to extend the reach for particpants for the ‘focus’ groups. The original contacts are either being evasive, or maybe the person(s) I was dealing with no longer work for the organisation(s). It will be a pain to have to start again at this stage. I have set up an info page on my website and tweeted a link to it to try to drum up more support. A request for re-tweets was very helpfully taken up by ACE South East – they have many more followers than me!

Are you, or do you know of, a blind or visually impaired person who is interested in contemporary art and/or would be interested in taking part in an informal discussion?

I am currently working on a new body of work exploring concepts of 3D ‘paintings’, and I am trying to contact groups and individuals who might be interested in taking part in small, very informal discussion groups made up of other blind or visually impaired people. This project is not about creating art aimed specifically at blind and visually impaired people, but rather to explore a hypothesis that a blind or visually impaired person may have an advantage over a normally sighted person in the understanding of the concepts behind the work.

This project is supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England

More details are here – thank you for your help!