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Please do touch! Tactile art experience for White Cane Day

in Be Empowered, Stories of Independence

A hands-on art experience has been described as innovative and memorable by visitors with vision impairment. The event in Perth city was held to mark International White Cane Day.

Image shows a person touching the painting and feeling the sand on the tall ship
There was the opportunity to explore the paintings through the sense of touch

Contemporary Artist Nigel Laxton is behind the ‘Aggregate Collection’ currently on display at the Kamile Gallery in Perth. The artwork is highly textured because it features sand collected from beaches south of the river.

Image shows people holding the strips of canvas, some are holding white canes.
Nigel used canvas strips to explain the process of his artwork

Nigel gave a demonstration to clients to explain how his creations evolve. He encouraged everyone to hold a strip of canvas and to feel their way along this strip. Nigel then outlined the different processes of applying sand and acrylic to create his art pieces.

It was great because it was three dimensional. On the Botany Bay picture, I could feel the curves of the coast and differentiate it from the sea and the sky. With the squares on canvas, the thickness was different on each square.

Kylie
Kylie touches the painting which features small sand squares in a variety of pastel colours. Standing next to her is the owner of the gallery Kamile.
Kylie feels her way around the art

Three different pieces of textured art were displayed on separate easels with clients exploring each one. They were all seascapes. One featured the entrance to Botany Bay, the others were tall ships.

There was intricate detail on each piece.

This is so much better than having an audio description of a painting. I can feel the thickness of the rigging.

Les

I’m an art student and at university we paint without texture, so this is unique. I love the opposites of the smooth and the rough because it’s unusual.

Siobhan

Creating texture with sand

The gallery sits within the main foyer to the Anglican Diocese of Perth. Art enthusiast Kamile Burinskaite met Nigel and knew that she wanted to create an exhibition featuring his work.

Nigel loves exploring different textures and layers.

Image shows hands close up on artwork feeling textures

“This event has shown me how much this type of art means to people with low vision. To witness their reaction and to see them exploring and touching my artwork – it’s amazing.’’

Group photo of people attending the gallery with some holding a white cane to show their independence.
There were around 40 people who attended the experience

Nigel is a strong believer that people should be able to explore art with their different senses.

“I have received great feedback from this experience. Some people were keen to buy the artwork used in this demonstration, but I’ll keep them as I hope to run similar events in the future.’’

White Cane walk to Elizabeth Quay

After the hour long event, clients walked in convoy to Elizabeth Quay to enjoy a discounted group lunch at The Island Restaurant.

Youth Support Officer Ryan Honschooten says it was a great way to mark International White Cane Day. The gallery event demonstrated that art can be easily accessible to everyone.

“With art, there’s a huge emphasis on just one sense – sight. Nigel’s creations have shown that you can still experience and enjoy art if you have no vision. Through touch you can get a richer understanding of what a piece of artwork may symbolise,’’ explains Ryan.

We have a range of Group Programs on offer at VisAbility, with workshops designed to to help you in your own home. These progams are a good way to connect with others and to meet like-mind people in similar circumstances. Contact us today if you’d like more information CETenquiries@visability.com.au