Seen – Unseen featuring on the railings of The Crawford Gallery 2021
Thank you to Supersense for highlighting Seen – Unseen
Seen/Unseen. Response by Elaine Mackey-Griffin
I am excited. A new socially inclusive art event is coming to the Crawford Gallery in Cork. By a lady whom I met many years ago, Clare Mclaughlain, curator and art lover. How will this be?
Seen/Unseen I know has been conceived with education and participation at the heart of its concept. It is however specifically for Visually Impaired People (VIP’S).
I am not affected or afflicted by my eyes, though sometimes my perspective or sight can be impaired due to naivety and mood. I need to experience Seen/Unseen and so contact the artist.
I can relax, Clare is the same. Warm. Kind. Professional. And careful. We talk about the piece. I don’t necessarily fit in but I don’t unfit either. I feel connected and the performance artist in me is screaming Blindfold yourself. Do something, to qualify. This is IMPORTANT. Mclaughlain’s work is IMPORTANT. The community she works for is IMPORTANT.
“My husband has very bad sight. He wears glasses and can’t see if he is without them. He does suffer. Work demands he lives on the laptop”… We are in!
I say it to my husband, we save the date.
We get there a little late but time together without the children is romantic as is a Gallery Date. As soon as we get to the host space we catch Clare’s eye and she calls us in quietly, but not before greeting us and introducing us to the intimate group of 6. These men are Blind. I am humbled and put on my blindfold. Ross takes off his glasses.
And we listen to the curator explain the tapestry we are all looking at.
In darkness I am vulnerable. In an Unseen space I am uncomfortable. My husband is my rock and rolling stone.
The descriptions of colour, texture, history, presentation, artist’s intention swirl like neon in my mind. Colours taking a new image of something totally unlike what my eyes would see. I am afraid. I stay quiet and hold on tight to Ross, who by the way is forward working with the piece and the people. He is enjoying the art tour.
We are nearly there! We are brought to a table where art objects, ceramic and paper are waiting, we are told, for us to pick them up and feel them. This for me was most engaging. The group at this point were in fine form. A bubble of narrative made lyrical wax, with just a breath of wane.
The fascination by my hands of these blind objects gave me sensations of sea urchins, of coral and at time like fine bone china sticks. The acute sensations from hand to mind rose and the feeling of overwhelming darkness sparked a light! I felt less separated listening to the expression of these brave Blind men.
And honestly relieved when the tour was over and I could lift my blackout blindfold. My husband and I thanked Clare and bid goodbye to the men. Enriched was how I felt. And Blessed.
Clare’s work is most important. And it represents strength and potential in social & curatorial art. And it is happening, in important galleries in Ireland.
Mclaughlain is a lady who can change social space for the better by introducing us to blind-sighted communities. I felt the power of Joseph Beuys and his social suggestions here in the Crawford Gallery, Cork. I felt the artists support in lending and I felt a very strong heartbeat, drum from the often Unseen blind community. This event is special.http://adiarts.ie/event/visual-art-seen-unseen-tour-for-blind-or-visually-impaired-people-national-gallery-of-ireland/
Article by Martin Kelly on SÚIL Harbour to Harbour 2018
SÚIL Harbour to Harbour
Visual Artist Ireland
European Union EPALE Publications
Article on Seen – Unseen in the NCBI Newsletter
Irish Arts Review Article
At National Gallery, an Effort to Bring Visual Art to the Blind