The Story of a Touch to See Book Club in Action
Our Community Development Team helped enthusiastic library member, Maggie, to set up a Touch to See Book Club in her local community.
First of all Living Paintings found a suitable community building – a theatre that is appropriately equipped, legally compliant and available for free. The theatre’s Inclusion Officer, Jack, was very keen to help and agreed to be the voluntary Club leader. His job is to arrange and lead the Touch to See sessions and provide a link between the group and Living Paintings.
Living Paintings gave full training to Jack and his helpers. With the help of the local volunteer centre logistics were sorted out such as the provision of tea, coffee and biscuits; how the blind and partially sighted participants would get to the meetings, and what other interesting activities can be woven into the sessions.
With the Club ready to launch, Maggie gathered together her friends, some of whom have sighted companions. Advertising by Living Paintings with the local County Blind Society and contact with existing library members in the area, led to a very good turn out. In total, twelve blind and partially sighted people, with sighted friends, embarked on the first of many exciting, new experiences.
On a Monday morning in June, they looked at two quite different paintings of The Chain Pier, Brighton; one by Turner and the other by Constable. Although both were painted circa 1826-28 of the same subject, the pictures portray very different scenes and are delivered in contrasting styles. The Club enjoyed this contrast, and talked about their memories of Brighton, deciding that it would be a good idea to arrange a trip there. The Constable painting has images of the fishing industry prevalent at that time and still used today. Jack used the imagery of the nets and baskets to introduce their guest speaker – a modern day weaver who uses recycled materials such as electrical cable, carrier bags and videotape to create baskets, bags and sculpture.
Maggie and her friends couldn’t be more excited about the next Touch to See book they will explore – the Club chose ‘Shakespeare’s Kings and Heroines’ at the end of their last session. Maggie was born blind and so can’t wait to touch the face of the great bard. She is also delighted because her sighted neighbour is so interested in the Club that she has asked to join. Jack has organised a couple of local actors to come in and perform some well known Shakespearean passages and there is already talk of a trip to Stratford-upon-Avon for a matinee, audio-described performance.