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Artists Showcase the Year Ahead

Vision Australia will celebrate the work of 12 artists, who are blind or have low vision, by showcasing their artistic creations in the 2013 Vision Australia calendar.

Art is not only about creating what you see in front of you. It’s about expressing emotions, memories and ideas. And it’s about using the imagination and sense of touch to shape those images and colours.

For people who once could see clearly but now live with low vision or blindness, those memories and emotions may form the basis of their work. Others may choose to paint or create the world as they see, smell and feel it today.

In his research papers, John M. Kennedy, a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto has noted, “blind and sighted people share a form of pictorial shorthand. That is, they adopt many of the same devices in sketching their surroundings: for example, both groups use lines to represent the edges of surfaces. Both employ foreshortened shapes and converging lines to convey depth. Both typically portray scenes from a single vantage point. Both render extended or irregular lines to connote motion. And both use shapes that are symbolic, though not always visually correct, such as a heart or a star, to relay abstract messages.”

blind and sighted people share a form of pictorial shorthand.

The collection of works published in Vision Australia’s 2013 calendar is rich in colour, texture and movement. Across the range of styles, subjects and mediums used, each reinforces the power of art to inspire, invigorate and express inner emotions.

Woman by Keith Rutherford

“I was a bit dubious about expressing the fact that I had Stargardt’s Disease in earlier days,” explains artist Keith Rutherford, who was diagnosed at 16. “When I was at art college I didn’t want anyone to know, but once I left, I found it difficult to get a job because I couldn’t drive. I ended up working in the recording studio at the Royal Blind Society of NSW, now Vision Australia.

Curry by Dennis Mealor

Dennis Mealor was laid up in hospital and on a drip when a Sri Lankan anaesthetist who was concerned about his deteriorating vision dropped by to visit.“While we were chatting I said that although the food was good, I hadn’t had a curry in a while,” said Dennis, who has optic nerve damage, low vision and is now almost colour blind.“The next day she brought in a curry for me with prawns in the shell and rice and fragrant spices. It was heaven, the most amazing meal. Not just the flavour but the nurturing of her doing that for me. It was a milestone in my emotional recovery!” The painting commemorates Himani’s act of kindness.

Textured Pathway by Susan Oxenham

This painting may look like a peaceful bush scene, but in fact, it was painted in Penrith CBD where she and her brother had a joint exhibition. “My brother is a hobby sculptor and our exhibition was at the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre to celebrate International Day of People with Disabilities,” said Susan, who has retinal capillary hemangiomas.“I set up a canvas and painted the gorgeous trees using gesso, then imprinted it with real bark. I also used a glass bead medium for the rocks which has a similar texture to sandstone, and a few leaves and eggshells to create the dappled effect of the light through the leaves.”

Gruffalo by Henry Dusesin

Nine year-old Henry Dudesin painted this artwork after attending The Gruffalo, a play based on a popular children’s book by author Julia Donaldson.“I really enjoyed the play,” said Henry, who created his portrait at school.Henry, who has albinism, enjoys art classes. “We get to make stuff, too,” he said. “We made clay brains this year and last year we painted pictures of autumn trees with water colour paints.”

Support Vision Australia

Vision Australia’s 2013 Calendar, along with an array of Christmas gifts and cards
can be ordered by phone:

(AUS) 1800 422 077. Alternatively, visit www.visionaustralia.org/shop or a Vision Australia centre.

The 2013 Calendar is just AUD$12 and all proceeds go towards supporting thousands of
children and adults who are blind or have low vision.