Making art accessible
May 31, 2017

Living Paintings has been making art accessible to blind and partially sighted readers with an extensive catalogue of tactile pictures and audio guides exploring famous works of art.

Here are our three favourite eras in British art:

We love the Pre-Raphaelites and Ophelia by Sir John Everett Millais (1851– 52) which resides at Tate Britain

The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was founded in 1848 in the house of Millais’ parents near the British Museum in London. The group comprised seven members, of whom the most important were William Holman Hunt, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and John Everett Millais. All of them were either in their late teens or early twenties. Young, rebellious, impatient with their elders, and eager to make a name for themselves, they rejected 19th century artistic conventions, and instead looked to early-Renaissance art and Nature itself, for inspiration. Their aim was to express serious ideas, often drawn from biblical or literary sources, in a clear and simple way. In artistic terms this meant copying nature as accurately as possible and painting their models exactly as they were – warts and all. Though perhaps we should not take their aims too seriously – they were, as I said, young and rebellious – ‘Ophelia’ is an excellent example of their meticulous and detailed method of painting.

Enjoy Millais’s Ophelia with our tactile picture and atmospheric audio guide read by Sir Derek Jacobi in; Touch to See: Tate Britain and Touch to See Book Club: Shakespeare’s Kings and Heroines.

Dive into Pop with A Bigger Splash by David Hockney (1967) – which resides at Tate Britain

A Bigger Splash was part of a series of swimming pool works, often with a splash, which David Hockney painted to celebrate his pleasure and enthusiasm for the life he found when he moved to California as a young man the constant sunshine and a more glamorous life compared to London in the early Sixties.

Hockney was born in Bradford, Yorkshire, and proudly maintains the accents of his youth. Arriving at the Royal College of Art in London in 1959 Hockney found himself among a group of talented contemporaries, including Peter Blake, who were excited by images of American culture in glossy magazines and movies. They used these in their paintings, following the lead of older artists like Richard Hamilton and Eduardo Paolozzi. At about the same time, in New York, Andy Warhol and other Pop artists were working along similar lines, using everyday, familiar images as the subject of their art.

A Bigger Splash by David Hockney appears in Touch to See ‘Weather in Art’.

Why not check out the Contemporaries – Claire’s Coming Out Dress, Grayson Perry (2000)

Courtesy the Artist and Victoria Miro, London. © Grayson Perry

British Art in the 21st century is incredibly diverse and exciting, and with this in mind we are in the process of creating a contemporary art Touch to See book designed especially for teenagers. The above picture is of one of two Grayson Perry tactile images to appear in this exciting new publication. It contains 6 tactile pictures depicting works of art by contemporary British artists; all working with different media and exploring diverse themes. This book is designed to help blind teenagers explore and engage with contemporary art. It will also enable them to learn new skills and will stimulate their imaginations through creative activities, help develop self-expression, creative thinking and discussion. Artists represented include Tracey Emin, Grayson Perry, Jeremy Deller, David Shrigley and Anish Kapoor.

Our free library takes art everywhere up and down the country to blind and partially sighted people of all ages.


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