The Touch Tour

A key area of expertise, developed over 15 years, is in art education for people with sight loss.

The Touch Tours that I organise and lead at Southampton City Art Gallery, Portsmouth’s Aspex Gallery, and at other Arts and Heritage venues in Hampshire, provide an almost unique opportunity for visually impaired people to develop or continue an interest in art, particularly sculpture. The approach allows ideas expressed in artworks to be communicated through touch, description and discussion. Periodically, the participants also create their own artworks, taking inspiration from pieces that they have directly explored themselves.

Case study one: See What you Miss

In 2013, an exhibition entitled “See What You Miss” showcased work from Southampton’s permanent collection, chosen and interpreted by participants of the Touch Tours.

The exhibition revealed exciting responses to and interpretations of the artworks and asked the Gallery visitors to PAUSE, REFLECT and SEE the pieces guided by the insights of those with sight loss who had explored and read them, mostly by hand, at a slower and more reflective pace.

Case Study two: Clay Figure Workshop

After exploring a selection of figurative sculptures in the Southampton Art Gallery collection, the Touch Tour participants created their own figures with wire and clay.

Wire armature skeletons were manipulated into dynamic postures onto which small pieces of clay were applied to gradually build up the 3D forms.

Case study three: Textile workshop

A mixed-media exhibition relating to artificial intelligence and octopi, inspired the Touch Tour group to explore tentacle dynamics by using strips of textile materials. Clarke Reynolds, a visually impaired artist and attendee of the Touch Tours, provided samples of his tactile, stitched sea inspired artworks for the group to feel and fabrics with which to make an octopus tentacle.