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UAL Research Online

Nibbling at clouds: the visual artist encounters adventitious blindness

McPeake, Aaron (2012) Nibbling at clouds: the visual artist encounters adventitious blindness. PhD thesis, University of the Arts London.

Type of Research: Thesis
Creators: McPeake, Aaron

This thesis, Nibbling at clouds: the visual artist encounters adventitious blindness, examines how visual artists who have come to lose all or most of their eyesight in later life continue to engage with their art practice. This relates directly to my own conditio, where vision has deteriorated in recent years to a point where my visual acuity stands at a tenth of normal vision, and as a consequence I am registered blind. The condition and art practices are in many ways inseparable, as behavioural changes in response to the deterioration of vision are largely unavoidable due to powerful physical, social and psychological influences. The research draws on the personal experience of the author as well as an analysis of phenomena experienced by the adventitiously blind artists interviewed: Sargy Mann, Keith Salmon, Sally Booth and Jane Phillips.

There are several pressing factors which impact on artistic practice following the loss of eyesight. These include mental health issues, physical rehabilitation, subject or modal choices in the studio, declaring one's condition (or not) particularly in terms of exhibition and more broadly, regarding the contemporary social understanding of blindness, particularly in the field of visual arts. Because of my subjective experienc of loss of vision, part of the thesis takes the form of a self-interview serving as a 'narrative washing line'. The self-interview acts as a continuous narrative throughout the document, and is punctuated by several 'volumes' addressing the above-mentioned disparate and more formal factors.

Exploring the extent of my own 'making' capabilities, the research process involved working with methods and materials which were new to me including film, photography and bronze sculpture. Because of the lack of literature in the field, my use of other artists' testimonies has been emphatic. Methodologically the artwork draws on literary work, including Joyce and Borges, in conjunction with personal experience to provide the option for multiple possible readings. My resulting artworks and works by the artists interviewed are documented and discussed throughout the body of the text in the context of blindness as contributing force in making and articulating the artists' ideas, rather than being only a detrimental influence. The work's primary contribution to knowledge is through providing an account of how a visual artist renegotiated his beliefs, emotions and goals following the breakdown in self and environment caused by the onset of adventitious blindness. It also points to the value of various practices of reflective examination in the process.

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Keywords/subjects not otherwise listed: blindness, visual arts, artistic practice, vision loss
Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > Chelsea College of Arts
Date: February 2012
Date Deposited: 13 Aug 2013 16:21
Last Modified: 19 Apr 2024 09:05
Item ID: 5871
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/5871

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