Accessible, interactive and inclusive in ethos, Altered Images aims to stimulate engagement with the visual arts for the general public and particularly for people with disabilities. The idea that a visual art exhibition should be accessible to all is not a new one; most museums and galleries have an access programme that enables people with disabilities to experience artworks. However, selecting an entire exhibition with an emphasis on accessibility in a multi-dimensional way is relatively new in Ireland. The exhibition aims to enhance people’s engagement with the works through the tactility of relief models, by listening to the audio and artist’s descriptions. The exhibition includes work by artists Thomas Brezing, David Creedon, Alice Maher, Caroline McCarthy and Abigail O’Brien, with especially commissioned works by Amanda Coogan and Daphne Wright.
Altered Images is the result of a partnership initiative of South Tipperary County Council Arts Service, IMMA’s National Programme and Mayo County Council Arts Office. The exhibition works on many levels. Firstly, curatorial decisions were taken to ensure a cohesive body of work. The selected works all make reference to classical or art historical sources, either in the method of depiction or their subject matter. Each art work is accompanied by a multi-sensory display in order to provide meaningful access. In addition, an audio CD and Braille documentation of the large-print exhibition catalogue will be available on request. Artist Amanda Coogan has produced an interpretive signed-representation of the exhibition in the form of a filmed performance. Sign language tours will be available by arrangement and an accessible website for the project can be found at www.alteredimages.ie. Altered Images was shown at the South Tipperary County Museum, Clonmel, and at the Ballina Arts Centre, Ballina, Co Mayo, in 2009.
Padraig Naughton, Director, Arts and Disability Ireland commented: “What makes Altered Images an advance on what has gone before in an Irish context is the curation of a whole exhibition that has a multi-sensory approach to access thus having an inclusive appeal that will reach the widest audience possible. While in my reflections I have concentrated predominantly on my access requirements as a visually impaired person, Altered Images intends to provide access solutions that are cross-impairment while simultaneously creating an exhibition of equal interest and accessibility to a non-disabled audience. Consequently encouraging disabled people and their families and friends to come and explore the exhibition together. Furthermore it will for example allow people who are blind or deaf to explore the conceptual nature of visual and sound art along side non-disabled people.”
The show opens 17 June – 5 September 2010. For further information visit Altered Images at Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin. www.imma.ie
Guest Blog by Sally O’Leary
Image: © Amanda Coogan, Seven Steps, 2009, Film work, Dimensions variable. Commission, Irish Museum of Modern Art, South Tipperary County Council, Mayo County Council, 2009