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Pardon Mill Gallery, Harlow stages an exhibition with a difference.

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THE SENSE of Touch exhibition, catering for the visually impaired, was the first of its kind to be held at the Pardon Mill Gallery, Harlow.

This exhibition combined several elements such as touch, taste, smell and sound. Exhibits included A sense of you, A sense of me by Freya Boittier, which is an installation with a mixture of different textiles and sounds.

Roger Lee, the project manager for Pardon Mill, said : “I gave a talk  last year to the Harlow U3A [the university of the third age] and in the questions and answers a lady put up her hand and asked ‘are you allowed to touch the exhibits of your gallery?’. And as a huge fan of Gerda Rubinstein ‘s work I started to explain the tactile nature of her work. Then I asked the lady ‘why do you ask?’ and she said ‘because I’m blind ‘and that actually shocked me a little bit.”

ART: A sense of you, A sense of me by Freya Boittier displayed in the gallery

Towards the end of the exhibition, the gallery had a visually impaired group visit the gallery. One moment stuck out during this event, which is explained by Sally Anderson, the creator of Pardon Mill Gallery. She said: “This person was actually born blind and so learnt braille while her contemporaries were learning to read and write. We have a sculpture in here, which is all about the colours of the rainbow, and the names of the colours are written in braille and she was able to read those. That’s the first time during this exhibition I’ve had somebody that can actually read braille.”

This exhibition has been a way of extending awareness of art to a whole new section of the community. The way it has delivered a sensory experience has not only brought joy and fulfilment to those who are visually impaired, there have also been visits from groups of children from Middleton Special Needs School , Ware, who suffer from autism.

Mr Luke Sasha a teacher from Middleton Special Needs School said: “A superb idea! And wonderful space. A space, which allowed a class of special needs children to access art through touch, smell, feel and looking.”

The exhibition has  now finished and has been replaced with the Body and Soul exhibition, which continues until June 23. This is showcasing the sculptures by John Farnham and paintings by his wife Lotte Farnham.

ART: Map highlighting where Pardon Mill Gallery is.

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