Gallery explores hands on tours

The Bendigo Art Gallery is exploring ways to engage with visually impaired visitors.

With the help of a grant from Creative Victoria and a research team from Monash University, the gallery has been scanning a selection of artworks to create 3D models.

The models will be able to handled by visually impaired patrons as a way to connect with the artworks and understand the composition.

“We have had this type of tactile resource before but have talked about it and always been keen to do it,” Bendigo Art Gallery senior curator Leanne Fitzgibbon said.

“In the past we have had audio-descriptive tours and some tactile options but we have been lucky to team with Monash to create these resources.

“We have been working out different ideas of how to best engage with the community and provide access to the collection if you are visually impaired.”

Ms Fitzgibbon said artworks included in the tactile tour would be a mix of modern and historical works.

“We are looking at 2D and 3D works,” she said.

“The 2D works will come in the form of printing plates that provide a relief image – it is a 3D printing of a two-dimensional work.

“It will help people understand the composition, the texture and help create a picture.”

A team of touch-readers will test the objects before the tactile tour is finalised.

“It’s an amazing opportunity to engage with the artwork and see how the artist’s hand has guided the material,” Ms Fitzgibbon said.

Artworks being scanned for the tactile tour include Patricia Piccinini’s sculpture The Young Family, Rosalind Park scupture Happy Ending by Michael Doolan and the gallery’s colelction of marble statues.

Paintings such as Thomas Kennington’s Homeless will also have tactile objects created for them.

“It is important to balance between the historical and contemporary works,” Ms Fitzgibbon said.

“We have already printed a couple of works and the trials have been a success. We should have materials available from August.”

The Bendigo Art Gallery also recently hosted an Auslan tour of its Collective Vision: 130 years exhibition.

Led by visual artists and printmaker Luke Duncan King, the tour was fully conducted in Auslan sign language. King occasionally runs Auslan tours at the National Gallery of Victoria.