Kolkata gallery makes artworks accessible to visually challenged


Tactile and Braille version of such pieces for a life-changing experience

Satyajit Ray’s famous documentary The Inner Eye on Binode Behari Mukherjee, a visually challenged artist who taught at the Visva Bharati University, Santiniketan ends with a quote from the artist himself, “Blindness is a new feeling, new experience, a new state of being.”

During a week-long workshop with students suffering from visual disability which concluded on December 3, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Siddhant Shah, an accessibility consultant made repeated references to Mukherjee on how the artists used ropes, paper and other material to create his masterpieces.

“After the orientation programme which continued till December 3, many visually challenged students started making artworks with the material. Some got so excited that they took material from us so that they can make artworks later,” said Mr. Shah , founder of the organisation Access For All.

Mr. Shah has been working with the Kolkata Centre for Creativity ( KCC), a multi- disciplinary art space in the city, that recently launched accessible outreach initiative called “Sparsh Drishti” providing visually challenged an access to intricate artworks through Braille and tactile illustrations. Under the initiative, the KCC along with Mr. Shah organised a Tactile Art Workshop for visually impaired students particularly on the exhibits of well-known painter Jogen Chowdhury.

Kolkata gallery makes artworks accessible to visually challenged

The KCC, which is spread over 70,000 sq ft and had hosted more than 200 events in the past one year, has plans to have a tactile and Braille representation of artworks of all the major exhibitions held in its premises in future.

The initiative is to take a step further than only providing physical access and have a dedicated team that will make tactile and Braille version of artworks, Richa Agarwal, executive director, said. In the process of making artworks accessible to the visually impaired, Ms. Agarwal also said the artists will also be involved and expressed hope that it may become a life-changing experience for some people.

“We have to understand that people with disabilities are quite liberated and it is for us to include them. It is not about empowering them but empowering ourselves in the process by making a gamut of works accessible,” Reena Dewan, AVP, KCC said.

As per the last census conducted in 2011, people with disability comprise 2.21 % of the entire population in India and a huge number of disabilities are visual.

Accessibility for people with disability in public places remains a crucial issue and when it comes to areas like art galleries, public libraries and festivals the situation turns out to be more gloomy. Studies taken over the past few years show that people with disabilities do not have much of an access to major big budget community Durga Puja pandals in the State who claim to highlight artistic splendour and creativity.

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2019 5:48:53 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/kolkata-gallery-makes-artworks-accessible-to-visually-challenged/article30155654.ece

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