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 IMMA’s National Programme, Mayo County Council Arts Office and South Tipperary Arts Service. 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 http://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. A guide is being produced to address the issues raised to date from these exhibitions, as the long-term aim is to use the exhibition as a basis for further research and development. IMMA will also host artists’ talks and a series of discussions with interested organisations.
A catalogue accompanies the exhibition with texts by Padraig Naughton, Director, Arts & Disability Ireland, and Cliodhna Shaffrey, curator. The catalogue is available in Braille on request and is also accompanied by an audio CD.