Tate Exchange: Ways of Seeing Art – Shape Arts Residency March 3 2017

Tate Exchange is a space for everyone to collaborate, test ideas and discover new perspectives on life through art, situated on the 5th floor of Tate Modern, Bankside. Shape Arts is a disability led arts organisation working to provide opportunities and support for disabled artists, as well as disabled individuals wanting to work in the arts and cultural sector. Between the 23rd and 26th of February – Shape Arts was in residency for their Adam Reynolds Memorial Bursary Shortlist showcase. Shape Arts set up the Adam Reynolds Memorial Bursary in memory of the life and work of sculptor Adam Reynolds. The aim of the bursary is for mid-career disabled artists, or artists looking to develop their professional practice, by offering available funds and a three month residency at a high profile arts venue.

The residency showcased artwork in a series of workshops led by blind and visually impaired artists along with a live-recorded symposium – ‘Bridging the Gaps: Exploring the link Between Art & Audio Description’.
It was also a chance for the public to engage with the artwork in the gallery verbally by having a go at creating there own audio descriptions with the use of Ipads, or if they didn’t feel comfortable doing that, could listen to the original recorded audio description on headsets.

The aim of the residency was to invite the public to question, how do you ‘see’ art? And how do we describe it to others?

Along with workshops led by blind and visually impaired artists, “Ways of seeing art” allowed the public to gain an insight into how stories are told and explore the different ways to describe physical materials through a variety of mediums.

One of the main pieces of artwork (see left), “Dole Scum 2”, designed by Anna Berry was positioned as an installation in the middle of the exhibition.

Having spent most of the 4 days invigilating the event it was an eye-opening experience to be a part of, as before attending I was intrigued and slightly unsure as to what the limitations were on how far you could take audio description. Through the live workshops that were taking place I was re-introduced to audio description in different contexts.

What really stood out for me over the 4 days is that by having a go at recording my own audio descriptions on a number of paintings I now have an appreciated insight as to how valuable audio descriptive technologies are to many people.