By Cara Sulieman
AN ARTIST has turned the work of a blind photographer into ‘Braille’ pictures – so the visually impaired can appreciate the images.
Camilla Adams, 28, has turned the landscape shots by Rosita McKenzie – who lost her sight at the age of 11 – into 3D artwork.
Now the textured images are being displayed alongside 55-year-old Rosita’s original photographs at an exhibition held by the Royal National Institute of Blind People.
Camilla admits that the idea of photographs for the blind had confused her at first but added that Rosita had convinced it her it could work.
“She calls the shots”
She said: “I admit the thought of blind photography sounded like a bit of an oxymoron when I first heard about it, but Rosita made me understand it.
“Giving a blind person a camera gives them the opportunity to express how they ‘see’ things.
“With Rosita, for example, she calls the shots. She will decide where to take her photos and which ones we’re going to turn into 3D form, and she’s able to choose the photo with a short description of the scene. It’s like she sees it in her head.”
Rosita – who organised the exhibition at the RNIB headquarters in Edinburgh – became interested in photography after her husband persuaded her to give it a go.
“Pretty good photos”
She said: “It all started about three years ago when I started messing around with a disposable camera.
“My husband said he was sick of bringing home holiday snaps that didn’t have of him in there, so he told me that I was going to take some photos for a change.
“I panicked at first but I eventually found that I could take some pretty good photos.”
She soon started taking artistic shots by learning to “visualise” the scene in her mind by researching the layout of the area she wants to capture, feeling her way around and framing the shot in her mind’s eye.
It was when she met Camilla that she found a way of turning the photographs into something she could experience herself.
The artist managed to find a way of turning the image into a 3D artwork that can be displayed next to the original picture.
The pair have now taken their techniques and used them to teach other visually impaired people how to express themselves.
Work by Christine Barwick, Sarah Caltieri, Andreas Gartner, Anne Henderson, Robin Marshall, Fiona Powell and Rita Simpson will also be shown in the exhibition.
Other members of the group chose to portray the world as they see it.
Andreas Gartner, 45, created collages of blurred and overexposed images to represent his own visual impairment.
He said: “I was virtually left without a pupil after a botched operation to remove a cataract, which means my field of vision is milky white, like walking through a fog.
“I don’t think enough is done to make art accessible to disabled people. Museums are full of signs saying ‘don’t touch’ but often that’s the only way for us to see things and I think we’ve achieved that with the 3D representations.”