Images at my fingertips

Last time, I told you about my love of art and started to describe the work of an organisation called Living Paintings. In this blog, I want to tell you about their “Short Stories”, which are small albums of two or three thermoforms on a theme.

These are great. I have recently enjoyed the one entitled “Fashion”. This looked at fashion from the 1950s onwards. I loved the 1960s pictures. The image of Twiggy wearing a mini dress and knee-high boots took me back to playing with my Sindy doll when I was a child.

I then was thrilled to receive their album on space exploration. There was a tactile image of the International Space Station and a diagram of our solar system. This was particularly well-timed as I have been watching Professor Brian Cox’s series on “The Planets” on UK television’s BBC2.

Now I have images from the silver screen. I have had great fun exploring a still from the film “Jaws”. Brody, the police chief, is trying to stab the shark, having thrown a gas canister into its mouth. The shark’s teeth are magnificent!

The last image is from “Star Wars” and the script on the accompanying CD is read by Warwick Davis, who played the part of Yoda in scenes where the character, who was otherwise played by a puppet in the original trilogy, was required to walk. In the picture, Luke Skywalker stands next to C3PO and R2D2. R2D2 is projecting a holographic video of Princess Leia begging for help. I’ve seen the movie but I hadn’t appreciated at all what this projection looked like. The picture I had in my head of C3PO wasn’t too far from the mark, apart from the joints at his knees, which I hadn’t expected to be so pronounced.

As you might imagine, I also love sculpture. I still recall a school trip to a sculpture exhibition at the Tate Gallery in the 1970s. Some of the details have faded but I remember a beautiful bronze casting of a smooth shiny snake. A model of a ballet dancer performing an arabesque was fascinating. There was also a sculpture of a woman’s head cleverly represented as though she had wet hair after swimming.

In Japan, visually-impaired children are taught sculpture as a matter of course. Some years ago I went to an exhibition of some of their work. There was a truly brilliant cabbage made by quite a young child. My favourite, though, was a piece called “Dream Tower”. It was a rectangular shape, denoting, perhaps, a block of flats. There were “windows” which you could reach into to find parts of the human body, such as arms and legs. This sounds macabre, and perhaps it was, but then I have somewhat macabre tastes!

Nearer to home, in Swindon we have an event called Open Studios, where local artists display their work. I have purchased paintings and enjoyed exploring sculpture and wooden carvings. One year, I visited the studio of local sculptor, Pat Elmore. She generously let me touch everything in her exhibition. I would have happily spent hours stroking her models of animals and admiring a girl’s head with her hair streaming away. This was so cleverly done that I still marvel at how she got the effect.

There is another local artist, Lynette Thomas, who produces unique mosaics. She collects objects such as broken china, old dolls and bits of tile. You name it, she can use it. When she had an exhibition at a local pub a couple of years ago, she allowed the mosaics to be lifted down so I could reach them and explore them thoroughly. There was a fantastic piece featuring skeletons which was inspired by the Mexican Festival of the Dead. Other themes included the green man, grief and magic.

Lynette asked me about  my perception of colour and how I appreciated art. And then a wonderful thing happened: she asked if she could create a mosaic for me! So I now have, hanging on my wall, a truly individual artwork with objects and words inspired by what I said. There is even a miniature hurdy-gurdy which plays a tune when you turn the handle! I consider myself very privileged.