Touched by Art
Posted by Anne-Marie
On Tuesday I welcomed a group of ladies and gentlemen from the Coventry Macular Disease Support Group. This is a support group which meets in Coventry regularly to share information and support each other through age-related sight loss.
Last year I was lucky enough to take part in some training to enable me to audio describe art works to visually impaired people. After meeting with the group I invited them to come to the museum for a visit. Firstly we explored the History Gallery. One of the things I love about my job is the things that you learn. They told me stories about living in Coventry during the Blitz and we reminisced about pink fridges. I showed them Coventry-made goods from the Great Exhibition of 1851 and some chain mail.
Then we visited the Discover Godiva gallery where I gave an audio description of two important paintings by John Collier and Van Noort. Although I suspect the real highlight was the cartoon about the Godiva legend which they enjoyed very much.
After that we went upstairs to the Sculpture Gallery, and armed with my list of tactile sculptures we explored some of the pieces up there. I always really enjoy the touch tour part of the visit because it gives me an opportunity to experience and learn about the sculptures in ways that are not otherwise possible. We explored the sculpture Michelangelo as a Boy. The group were blown away by the amount of detail in the sculpture including the ribbing on his stockings and the pattern on his jacket. We also explored a few statues by Tim Threlfall which was wonderful because they are made of such diverse materials and although they look simple they are deceptively complex.
That was followed by a nice sit down in front of the Lowry painting of Ebbw Vale. I had planned to do another audio description but the group were worried that my voice was getting croaky – or maybe it was a polite way of getting me to zip it for a while. So we took it in turns to spot things in the painting and to talk about our impressions.
They were a lovely group and I really enjoyed working with them. They said that they were delighted to come for a visit as many of them hadn’t visited the Herbert since the redevelopment. They said that they felt more confident about finding their way round now that they had been orientated and invited me back to the group to do a talk next year.