“Touch and Smell My Curves”
Intoduction:“Touch and Smell My Curves” is a piece of tactile art, which I created with the intention of sharing a message with both a sighted and non-sighted audience.
I am studying art at a University and have exhibited, run and attend shows on tactile art as I dedicate much of my time to the visually impaired.
I myself am a visually impaired artist and art student and I witness at first hand many difficulties that the blind and visually impaired suffer when trying to both engage with and research the world of art.
Why I Created this Piece:
Through my work “Touch and Smell My Curves”, I’m wanting to make the world of art more accessible to people who suffer (like me), with sight loss.
I’m striving to encourage more interactive touching and smelling of art, as I’m annoyed that so many galleries (both public and private), have very large signs and dictatorial staff saying “Do Not Touch”.
Why Tactile Art?:
Tactile art is a great way that art is able to share a message and I can communicate with my audience, as it screams out “Touch Me”, and “You Can”.
I believe getting to touch and feel a piece of art (regardless of being visually impaired, or not), is so important because it helps the audience to see it and appreciate it in a new way.
About the Work:
“Touch and Smell My Curves”, is not just about my ideas and concepts, it is also about the experiences of the people who interact with it. For me, this piece of art will be completed when people engage with it.
“Touch and Smell My Curves”, is based upon this belief.
I was driven to create this piece as a result of my changing experiences of art engagement by being encourage more to use my sensory experiences to a greater level and as a consequence I felt that I started to learn more about myself and how I fitted into the world.
I believe that tactile/visual art has allowed me to expand my understanding of how others with sensory differences effectively approach the world with equality to those that have full use of all senses by using alternative methods.
To me, it’s a fun and new way to see!
What’s It Personally Achieved?:
“Touch and Smell My Curves”, has made me dedicated to making art more accessible for people who are blind or visually impaired. If we make art available to be touched and smelt freely.
I feel it’s our responsibility as artists to do just that and it can be an intriguing piece of work to those who are fully sighted at the same time.
What Inspired it?
This work has grown from inside me over many years.
It’s only recently however, that I’ve decided to make my tactual art accessible, having previously concentrated (with great acclaim I add), with more traditional fine art, landscape, watercolours.
Why’s It Unique To You?:
For this piece I have sacrificed the visual in favour of the tactile when I felt I came up against a design conflict that I couldn’t resolve.
Eventually, I found that whilst making “Touch and Smell My Curves”, that by making it more poetic, by streamlining and eliminating visual clutter, I was free from running into visual/tactile design conflicts.
Who Inspired You?
I have been inspired by artists such as Rachael Dein, who is based in London and who creates raised plaster art pieces inspired by nature and plant life and indeed, as you see from my method of creating “Touch and Smell My Curves”, it contains natural organic materials.
Organic materials, both she and I, agree are a great way of preserving natural beauty, whilst at the same time giving it life by allowing everyone to touch and feel it.
Another inspiring artist is Heather Bowring, based in Portsmouth who replicates paintings, but makes them tactile. I was inspired by her tactile replica of “Whaam”, that had originally been produced by Roy Lichtenstein.
Methodology: How did I construct “Touch and Smell My Curves”:
“Touch and Smell My Curves”, was constructed from waste materials and organic matter found in my back garden.
The items found where:
- Old chicken wire
- Left over fence paint
- Old tins of varnish
From the mud, slate, sand, stones, pebbles, grass and leaves I created an organic cement like substance and from the chicken wire I created a very rough brain like shape.
I poured the organic cement sparingly onto the chicken wire structure and let nature take its course and after 72 hours I found it was hard enough to add the left over fence paints, which I merely sprayed, or poured onto the structure and sprinkled with sand.
Below are Pictures of Materials Used:
Methodology: How did I construct “Touch and Smell My Curves” continued:
I then left the structure outside in the elements for several days and let nature and the natural elements of weathering take its course with wet, drying, bleaching, etc.
I finally finished by adding the varnish to the structure as a long term bonding agent and again left it to be weathered.
Am I Happy With the Outcome?
I am very happy with the outcome as I think that what I have is unique and has grown from within myself, it’s like something trapped inside got out and from the look of it, we could either say it was alien, cancerous or many other things, but it needed to be allowed outside of me and into the world.
The question is “does it belong in this world”, and unfortunately I feel unable to give an answer and will let the observer decide.
Where Should It Be Displayed and In What Setting?
As it’s not designed to necessarily be visually appealing, the issue of lightning and location does not come to the fore.
It is from nature, of nature, represents nature and is to be touched, felt and played with and observing it is not all about seeing as discussed earlier.
It’s equally at home in the dark as in the light, but as nature made it, it should sit alone on a window sill to be with nature, that will cast its natural shadows, lights and darkness onto this work.
What Would I Do Differently?
Nothing, as it’s a unique one off that grew within and is now out and the process now is to let my next project grow and explode out of me.
Please “Touch and Smell My Curves”
Below are shots taken over differing construction periods: