‘Touched’ by art

Try spending some time in a visual art gallery wearing a blindfold. The visit would not make much sense, would it? However, since October 12, visually impaired visitors have been enjoying an exhibition showcasing the works of some of India’s celebrated visual artists belonging to “Group 1890” at DAG Modern in Hauz Khas Village here.

The gallery has come up with an innovative interpretation programme called ‘Abhas’. The tactile experience for visually impaired students aims to help them learn, appreciate and experience a visual art form.

In the form of a guided walk and talk for students from blind schools across the city, the experience has been curated by an organisation called Access Logic and Logistics (ALL) headed by Siddhant Shah.

Mr. Shah, an architecture student, has been working on projects to make public spaces more accessible to the differently-abled. He started working on projects to focus on intellectual and social inclusion after someone close to him started losing her vision gradually.

He has taken 10 of the works on display at the exhibition and worked on ways in which the visually impaired can make use of other senses to enjoy the work on display.

Mr. Shah has used real flowers, feathers, sandpaper, wax, cutouts, other tactile materials and sound to help students get a sensory experience of the artworks. For those with partial vision, he has used lighter colours to reproduce a painting so that they are able to view it more easily. Visitors can smell flowers, feel feathers and get a better understanding of textures while experiencing the exhibition.

 “I am not an artist. I came up with these methods through trial and error. Once I came up with the concept, I tested it to see if it worked. The feedback I got helped me interpret the works of some of India’s best painters and bring the context to the visually impaired,” he said.

In addition, a book in Braille providing information on the show has also been brought out so that students can take it home and enjoy it at leisure. The gallery will also create awareness on inclusive design and spaces, hold sensitisation workshops for budding designers, artists, and educationalists from art and design institutions.

Speaking about the initiative, DAG Modern president Kishore Singh said: “We want to ensure that art is accessible to everybody at a level they can appreciate it. We hope the learning from these will become part of the everyday space for Indian viewers.”

The exhibition includes works by artists J. Swaminathan, Gulammohammed Sheikh, Jeram Patel, Himmat Shah, Jyoti Bhatt, Ambadas, Eric Bowen, Raghav Kaneria and Reddappa Naidu. It is on display at DAG Modern till December 14.

‘Abhas’, a tactile experience for the visually impaired, aims to help them experience visual art