Emma Fitts Boxy / Bias 2020. Acrylic and Flashe on canvas. Courtesy of the artist and The National, Christchurch. Photo: Sarah Rowlands

Emma Fitts Boxy / Bias 2020. Acrylic and Flashe on canvas. Courtesy of the artist and The National, Christchurch. Photo: Sarah Rowlands

Touching Sight: Conor Clarke, Emma Fitts, Oliver Perkins

Media Release

Touching Sight showcases exciting new work from three contemporary Ōtautahi artists, with a twist – it  also enables people with blindness or low vision to experience contemporary art at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū from Saturday 31 October.

“Each of the artists who’ve contributed to Touching Sight work in different mediums, and we’ve brought them together for a playful exhibition that celebrates different ways of making – and seeing – art,” says Gallery curator Melanie Oliver.

Being unable to see doesn’t need to be a barrier to appreciating visual art . Photographer Conor Clarke (Ngāi Tahu) has worked with participants from the blind and low vision community to make a series of large, touchable photographs that represent landscapes described as they remember them.

Emma Fitts has made brightly coloured, voluminous sculptural textiles, inspired by the form, colour and composition of twentieth-century paintings.

Oliver Perkins’s paintings are the result of restless experimentation in the studio. These works challenge our contemporary understanding of abstraction and how it can represent or reflect our experience.

“We have a reference room at the heart of Touching Sight that includes audio descriptions of each work. They don’t describe things in the way a sighted person would, but in a way that would let someone with low vision understand and appreciate them. We’ve tried to talk about things like colour for someone who may never have actually seen one before – how do you do that? We’ve brought in the other senses as much as we can, things like texture and feeling,” Ms Oliver says.

“And the title of the exhibition also comes into play, because some of the artworks have been specially crafted so that visitors can touch them and experience art in a way that people don’t often get to.”

Touching Sight runs from Saturday 31 October 2020 to 21 February 2021 at Christchurch Art Gallery. There will also be an artist floortalk, where visitors can join the three artists and curator Melanie Oliver for a conversation about their projects.

Touching Sight is one of several exhibitions in the Gallery’s All Art All Summer season, designed to make everyone feel welcome this summer – with more Kiwi families exploring their own backyard, Christchurch Art Gallery is opening its doors to visitors of all ages and tastes. The season will launch officially on 5 December 2020.