Budding artists prove limited vision is no barrier to talent during Southern Health Trust project

An innovative art project is introducing some visually impaired novices into the creative world of sculpture and painting.

A group of adults with severe and significant sight loss are working with artist Eddie Rafferty and showing great signs of promise.

This project, set up by the Southern Health and Social Care Trust project, is proving to be an excellent way for people with sight loss to get creative and improve their overall health and wellbeing.

Eddie Rafferty (Royal Ulster Academy RUA) is the Artist-in-Residence at the Trust and Arts Care, and is tasked to deliver an Art and Sculpturing Project.

Eddie Rafferty Artist-in-Residence Southern Health and Social Care Trust Louise Mallon Community Access Worker Sensory Disability Team Southern Health and Social Care Trust alongside participants Stanislaw Trafny, Inga Jaunslaviete and Catherine Gorman. Missing from the photograph is participant Lynette Norton.

How the project came to be

Louise Mallon, Trust Community Access Worker with the Sensory Disability Team, recognised that group art activity has many benefits to those with sight loss.

She said: “This project involves tactile sessions, working with wet and dry materials, working with shapes to create form.

Benefits to participants include improved self-confidence, development of creative thought and artistic ability.

“Improved imaginative and cognitive processes, promotion of social skills resulting in a reduction in social isolation and loneliness, improved social networks and sustained friendships,” said Louise.

Some of those taking part are overcoming major changes in their lives

Currently a group of four blind/sight impaired service users are participating – Inga, Catherine, Stanislaw and Lynette.

Due to severe sight loss, Inga has had to make many changes to her life. However, thanks to the Art and Sculpturing Project, Inga now feels like she is “getting back some of her independence”.

Catherine states this project “is a novel opportunity to exchange conversation whilst creating figurative and animal sculptures to convey ideas of protection, connection, dance and movement”.

Stanislaw remarks this project is “very valuable, enabling him not only to develop his artistic ability but to make friends and be part of group of people working together as one”.

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Lynette said that she “looks forward to weekly workshops as an opportunity to be creative and an opportunity for dialogue and fun”.

Lena Cavanan, Head of Specialist Services, said; “This is a great project to be involved with and I am delighted that the group are finding it beneficial and enjoyable.

“It is important for us all to remember that for those living with sight loss while their vision has changed, this project shows that their imagination hasn’t.”

For further information about Community Access opportunities for visually impaired people adults, please contact Louise Mallon (Community Access Officer for Blind/Partially Sighted) on [email protected]