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Sense Art tours provide access to exhibitions

10 May 2016
The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre in New Plymouth is presenting a Sense Art/Art Access tour of its latest exhibition, Emanations, on Thursday 12 May.

An image from the exhibition EmanationsSupported by Deaf Aotearoa during New Zealand Sign Language Week (9–15 May), the tour includes sign interpretation, touch and audio description. Starting on the first ramp with a short talk by New Plymouth artist Andrew Beck, the tour will move through the galleries discussing highlights of Emanations: the Art of the Cameraless Photograph.

Emanations is the first comprehensive survey of cameraless photography anywhere in the world, presenting more than 200 artworks from 1839 (when the invention of photography was announced) through to contemporary artists.

Run by Assistant Curators Sarah Wall and Chloe Cull, these Sense Art tours introduce audiences to key works and themes in the exhibitions.

“A particular focus of the tours is the detailed visual description of artworks and spaces so our blind and visually impaired visitors can have a meaningful experience,” Sarah says. “We pay special attention to works that utilise sound or vibration.”

Videos of a NZSL interpreter make the gallery’s exhibitions accessible online for people who are Deaf.

Audio description training workshop

Judith Jones, host and tour guide at Te Papa Tongarewa in Wellington, will be taking part in the tour. She was also invited by the Govett-Brewster to lead an audio description training workshop for its curatorial staff and gallery hosts.

Sarah says it’s important that curatorial staff leading the Sense Art tours have the necessary training to ensure the tours are engaging and informative for visitors with hearing and vision impairments.

“It’s also important our gallery hosts have appropriate training so they can best serve our visitors,” she says. “We provide a Sense Art tour with each new exhibition, and we’re looking forward to the insights and experience that Judith will provide.”

Creating vivid images

Judith, who completed the audio describers’ training course run in Wellington by Arts Access Aotearoa in 2014, says she is constantly learning more about the ways that touch tours and audio description can create vivid images for blind museum and gallery visitors.

Judith Jones audio describes an exhibition at Te Papa  Photo: Norm Heke, Te PapaSince the Govett-Brewster re-opened in July 2015, it has held three Sense Art tours.

It began running regular New Zealand Sign Language tours in 2008. In 2011, it received the Arts Access Creative New Zealand Arts For All Award, recognising its commitment to developing its audiences by being more accessible to disabled and Deaf people.

Following Emanations, the Govett-Brewster has three exhibitions that will include Sense Art/Arts Access tours. These are:

  • Matt Henry: Long Division, 29 August – 27 November. Matt Henry grew up in New Plymouth and knows the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery intimately. Now, following major renovations and the addition of the Len Lye Centre, Henry is rediscovering the spaces that were once so familiar to him. For this exhibition Henry will respond to the architecture of the galleries in which his work is displayed.
  • Set in Motion, 2 September – 27 November. An exhibition of light, sound and movement, this exhibition presents kinetic sculpture by Len Lye alongside the work of four contemporary artists – Rebecca Baumann, Dale Frank, Žilvinas Kempinas and Ross Manning. Of different generations, all four artists share Lye’s interest in the possibilities of movement in art and its capacity to awaken our perception and senses.
  • Ruth Buchanan, 9 September – 4 December. Ruth Buchanan’s project is a result of her 2015 residency in New Plymouth. where she unfolded the events and local controversy surrounding this exhibition. Buchanan’s exhibition comprises of a series of architectural interventions in the gallery space that make particular reference to the collecting practices of the Govett-Brewster and the way they reflect the character and history of New Plymouth.

Emanations runs at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre from 29 April to 14 August.Bookings for the Sense Art tour, starting at 2pm on Thursday 12 May, are essential. 

Sense Art tours provide access to exhibitions

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