AD and Touch Tours in Art

Tom’s Millbank Meander

 

I suppose a sighted person who reads a book gets an image of the story in his or her head. Equally well, someone who is visually impaired and listens to an audio book also shares that experience.  The same applies to art.  Having someone who is knowledgeable and can relay the theme of the art in a manner that is descriptive and informative enables the image to be visualised as that of a sighted person.   

 

My first experience of this was an audio description of J.M.W. Turner’s ‘Rain, Steam and Speed’. I had never seen this painting before or after my sight loss, however, the audio description of the painting was so good that the image has remained with me ever since. The train speeding over the country-side towards the viewer, its sharpness softened by billowing steam and Turner’s vivid expression of the rain will stay with me forever. Not forgetting the hare in the field, which I imagine, is racing the locomotive.

 

Sculpture is a different ball-game, especially when it is in front of you.  On a recent visit to Tate Britain London, before me stood Perseus – complete with Hermes’s winged sandals, Zeus’s sword and the Head of Medusa in his outstretched arm. Below him lies Andromeda, chained to the rocks shielding her eyes from Medusa’s gaze. Above her lies the terrifying sea monster writhing with out-stretched wings. This sculpture depicts a scene from Greek mythology.  It was described to me by Marcus Dickie-Horley on a hot summer day, while on the Millbank Meander AD and touch tour, 18th July, 2022. Marcus guided me using the Ramble Tag which enhanced the whole experience in many ways.  The Ramble Tag was not only practical but it allowed me flexibility to touch and feel the exhibit whilst not being restricted by Marcus.  This freedom enabled me to touch, measure and realise the enormity of the sculpture. Each piece of the work was individually cast in bronze of approximately one inch thick then pieced together by the artist. The Rescue of Andromeda by Henry Charles Fehr (presented to the Tate, 1894). 

tom being lead by a ramble tag on marcus' arm. feeling sculptures and walking around the tate gallery

 

If you are visually impaired and happen to end up in London, I would highly recommend an AD and touch tour at the Tate.  You will not get many other opportunities to caress Andromeda’s back!

 

Lack of sight does not have to stop a visually impaired person learning about and appreciating art in its many formats.  Accessibility and inclusion are there to enable people like myself to continue to  enjoy art. The fact that I have never seen Turner’s painting yet still have the image in my head gives me great pleasure.  I now feel confident to speak to anyone about Turner’s painting or Fehr’s sculpture.  Laura has just said to me that my description of Turner’s ‘Rain, Steam and Speed’ and Fehr’s sculpture was more exciting than the art itself! Hopefully this will motivate some of you to visit your local museums and galleries.  Go now, regardless of your thoughts about art.  Try it – you might find it impacts you more than you expect.   

 

By Tom Forsyth CEO Ramble Tag Ltd

Blog 01 – Inventing

Laura’s How To – Part 1.

If you’ve ever wondered how to get something from idea to market, (in our case in just 6 months) we’re here to share all the juicy details with tips and pointers.

Neither myself or Tom had ever done anything like this before,  all we had was belief in our idea and the overwhelming urge to make it happen.  

Lightbulb moments can ping at any time, don’t let a good one drift into the cosmos!  For us, the idea came about while we were walking our dogs.  Traditional guidance methods were cumbersome and not practical for us with our daft furry pals pulling us around.  After Tom lost his grip on my elbow, we joked around, being silly and exaggerating the situation.  This lead to the climatic suggestion of a handle being stuck to my arm.  We elaborated on how this could be possible, and that was the ball was rolling.

We hope to give some guidance and inspiration, so you can be prepared to nurture any idea with confidence.  It wasn’t easy, and we had many bumps on the road, but the key is perseverance.  

 

LESSON 1 – PREPARE TO PERSEVERE

 

Luckily our idea was pretty low-tech.  We knew it would be made from fabrics, and I had a sewing machine plus lots of bits n bobs around the house.  Before jumping ahead of ourselves, we did multiple Google searches for our idea using phrases like, a “harness guidance aid”, a “handle for an arm” etc.  We found nothing, and even tried alternative languages, finding it very hard to believe it didn’t already exist.

Waiting a day was too long!  On the night we came up with the idea I made a rough prototype from a knee pad and a bag, chopping perfectly good items up, but it was worth it to make this exciting thing.  We had to test the concept asap.

The inventors of the Ramble Tag. Tom is blind and holding the prototype blind aid / ramble tag that laura made the very night they had the idea together. they are delighted with the feeling of using it.story board of the first prototype in action. black and white nostalic happy photos.

 

The next morning I knocked on Tom’s door wearing it, and we went for a walk with our dogs. The feeling of independence became immediately apparent to Tom. The simple act of holding a handle attached to my arm, allowed him to walk more freely and naturally.  For me as his guide, it felt amazing.  My fear of him losing contact was gone, it felt safe and we were walking more freely and securely.

 

Luckily my partner Ross is a photographer, and we knew this was a day we’d want to remember.  He captured this magic moment when we were undoubtedly committed to perfecting our idea and helping others.

 

STEP 1 – TEST CONCEPT

 

It’s great to look back on it all and share our journey, we hope you enjoyed the first nugget.

By Laura Maclean CEO Ramble Tag Ltd