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Kent Association for the Blind Medway Art Group work with The Royal Engineers Museum, Brompton on an exhibition by visually impaired artists

By Clare Freeman

A group of artists have been creating works based on Medway’s military history, but they are unable to see the items their work is inspired by.

The Kent Association for the Blind (KAB) and The Royal Engineers Museum in Brompton have been working together on an upcoming exhibition, Through Our Eyes.

The exhibition of sculptures, paintings, mixed media and poetry, aims to challenge visitors perceptions of the need for sight in making great art.

Brian Prodger at work.

The KAB Medway Art Group meet once a week and work with various venues including Rochester Cathedral to create works of art.

Rochester artist Wendy Daws has been running the group voluntarily since 2006.

Ms Daws, 46, said: “What we want to do is raise awareness of people with sight impairments and what it’s like to have a sight impairment, so if you’re going around a museum or gallery and you can’t see it very well, what is there for you?

Oliver Smith, 6, and Natalie Smith meet Helen Wallis' guide dog, Rosie.

“If you can’t touch it is there an audio guide or is there tactile work?”

The group is attended by people from the Towns who have visual impairments which are mostly age related.

Barbara Brigden, 91, has been a member since the group started in 2006 and said it has changed her life.

Ted, 7, with Barbara, 91, making shadow shapes.

She said: “I was never particularly interested in art in my younger days, but I’ve discovered I can do all sorts of tactile things that I never dreamt I would be able to do.”

During half term, the group were joined by young people with visual impairments and together they created art based on the museum’s collection of military medals.

Watch: visually impaired artists create work based on the Royal Engineers

The Royal Engineers Museum already has some things in place such as dressing up activities and brass rubbings, and last week the children were taken on a touch tour of the collection.

Malachi, 7, with his sister Ayesha, 11, creating a foil metal based on the musuem's military medals.

Rebecca Gazey , the museum’s community engagement and learning officer, said it was a privilege to work with the group.

She said: “Although they can’t touch the medals, they can see them with the light on them, and by recreating their own they are able to engage with our collection through arts and crafts.”

Through Our Eyes runs at the museum’s Open Gallery from April 28 until July 13.

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