Why Norfolk sight-loss charity has taken on an artist in residence
A Norfolk graduate is bringing the visual arts to the visually impaired in a new charity partnership.
Norwich University of the Arts (NUA) masters graduate Amy Fellows has been appointed as artist in residence at the Norfolk and Norwich Association for the Blind (NNAB).
Her appointment is part of a new initiative launched by NNAB to demonstrate the power which visual arts can have for visually impaired people.
Freelance artist Ms Fellows previously worked with the charity - which will be known as Vision Norfolk from early next year - on a research project into the stigmas and barriers for people with sight loss.
People from the charity with visual impairments also contributed to the final pieces she submitted for her masters in communication design at NUA, from which she graduated in 2017.
More recently she was chosen as one of 12 artists to create murals in Norwich Market as part of a project by the city's business improvement district (BID).
With NNAB she will lead art, graphic design and screen printing classes around the county which will culminate in an exhibition in Norwich in 2020.
Ms Fellows said: "Many people think that the visual arts are 'out of bounds' for visually impaired people, but in fact creating art can be really therapeutic for many and they can create art which stands up on its own merits alongside work from fully-sighted artists.
"When you start to lose your sight, you have to think about creative ways of doing things. The kind of creative thinking which is stimulated by art can help people think more creatively about how they are going to cope in their everyday life."
Former teacher David Foulds, who started to lose his sight around 10 years ago, took part in creative writing courses with NNAB before switching to art. "It was a bit odd, because I had no formal art training, but I found I really enjoyed it," he said.
"It is interesting to see other people struggling with sight loss in the same way I did. It makes you realise you are not alone."
NNAB chief executive Gina Dormer said: "We know that social isolation can be a big problem for those living with sight loss, so the opportunity to take part in activities which stimulate their creativity in a sociable context is really important."