Living Paintings was formed in 1989 by Alison Oldland MBE, formerly a lecturer in Art History.
Alison would say that the story of how Living Paintings came about was a ‘typical Oldland family story’ i.e. a tale of the unexpected. Alison wanted another family dog but not one that was going to chew her furniture. As a result the family ‘adopted’ a rejected trainee guide dog, Emma, and from the day she arrived in the house it was clear why this dopey, soppy, blonde had not made the grade! She remained, very happily with the family for many years until her timely departure to doggy heaven.
To say “thank you”, Alison decided to give a series of lectures in her beloved History of Art to raise money for Guide Dogs for the Blind. To the first came Tony Castleton, then Head of Appeals for Guide Dogs. He was blind. Projecting images of great masters onto a screen and knowing that a member of the audience could not see these glorious works of art, Alison took great care in describing what was being looked at. So successful was she that Tony asked her to record descriptions of other works of art for him to enjoy at home, in his own time. The seed for an incredible idea was sown. Realising that there was a possibility of sharing her great love of art with people who could not see, Alison was inspired to do more.
Pictured below, Tony Castleton enjoying Renoir’s La Loge in Touch to See book Paintings from the Courtauld Institute Gallery.
Inspired and want to find out more? Read more about the history of Living Paintings.