Following on from my previous post regarding my involvement with the One Man’s Vision exhibition, I have now finished my illustration to be framed and showcased at the exhibition and have helped out with some of the installation process at Salford Museum and Art Gallery. I wanted to share my illustration and installation experience with you!
My artwork is based on an audio file I listened to recently, focused on the social perceptions of and reactions to blind and visually impaired people.
Featured in the background of the piece are many logos and symbols associated with myself; disabled, hard of hearing, sight impaired and a long cane user. But to me personally, they are exactly that – in the background. While they are a visual representation of the disabilities that I have, they do not represent me as a whole – the person in the centre of the illustration. A young, confident, fashionable and intelligent woman with many hobbies, talents and opinions.
When the general public see these images, they assume that they are attached to older people and are often surprised when they see me in shopping centres or cinemas just getting on with my life and going about things as anyone else would. I’ve often received comments such as, “But you’re so young! This shouldn’t happen to you,” and “You look so normal!” Other times, I receive the opposite reaction; it’s an elephant in the room and I can often tell that someone desperately wants to talk about my sight impairment but finds it hard to do so incase they offend me by choosing the wrong words. Scope’s ‘End the Awkward‘ campaign resonated with me and was also a source of inspiration behind the piece.
I used contrasting gradients on the top and bottom panels to represent my contrasting experiences with different people when they have preconceived ideas and assumptions of what a sight impaired person should look and act like, and to also signify the stark contrast of the logos against the real person associated with them.
It took nearly a month to complete the piece, as I can only concentrate on my illustrations for around 15 to 20 minutes at a time, and it was created using my favourite mediums of black fine liner and coloured pencils.
As well as creating an illustration, I also helped out with the exhibition itself; creating Braille labels to be installed allowing those who prefer this format to access all printed information (an audio tour and audio description will also be available), helping to type up some of the text labels to be printed off and placed alongside objects of interest housed inside glass cases, as well as creating an object list inside a table identifying all of the objects and portraits on display inside the exhibition.
I got to experience just how exciting installing an exhibition can be, fitting all of the pieces together after months of hard work – tracking down important objects and portraits, labelling everything, planning how the room and displays will look and how they will be accessible to all, and then installing the final thing before being open to the public. I had a really interesting insight and learned some great skills; and want to say a big thank you to the team for letting me be a part of this project!