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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 March, 2005, 08:28 GMT
First 'blind' art exhibition opens
Geoff Adams-Spink
BBC News website disability affairs correspondent

Artworks designed to appeal to blind and partially sighted people are to go on show in London.

Photo of latex 'bra' comprising two realistic looking pigs' heads
Pinky and Perky is a central exhibit in the show
Sense and Sensuality is an exhibition of works by the finalists from the UK's first annual competition to create pieces that can be appreciated by visually impaired people.

The event is funded by the charity BlindArt and features several works by visually impaired artists.

They can be viewed at the Royal College of Art from 2-7 March in central London.

All of the works are for sale, and some of the proceeds will be used to create a permanent collection.

BlindArt was founded by Iranian-born Sheri Khayami, who has been visually impaired since childhood.

She says the project is the result of "four consecutive years of tragic events" in her life.

"Two years ago I had to confront my visual impairment for the first time ever in forty years and I hated it," she told the BBC News website.

"BlindArt is my way of coming out and saying to the world, 'yes, I am visually impaired and, yes, it's fine'."

The 62 works of art include oil paintings, acrylic on aluminium, mixed media pieces using paper and collage, woven pieces and sculptures in bronze and wood.

Photo of nylon sculpture showing how a bird's wings move

One piece - made from cast nylon - shows the movements of a bird's wings in flight, and like most of the other works can be touched as well as viewed.

Another - entitled Pinky and Perky - is a large, latex bra with the cups sculpted into pigs' heads.

Although the artist, Carrie Riechardt, offered to wear it for the exhibition, it was decided that it would be better displayed on a tailor's dummy.

Universal access

Sense and Sensuality has been designed to be accessible to the widest possible audience.

Most of the pieces can be touched, all are audio described, labels are in large print and Braille, and British Sign Language guided tours will be available.

The works are hung at low level so that they can be explored through touch, plinths have been designed with wheelchair users in mind and the gallery floor will have colour contrast and texture to help orientate visually impaired visitors.

The winner of the competition will receive 5,000 and BlindArt will purchase one of the works for its permanent collection.

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