Today marks the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness’ (IAPB) fourth World Sight Day, an annual day of awareness held on the second Thursday of October to focus global attention on blindness and vision impairment.
Over the years, Oxo Tower Wharf has welcomed exhibitors wishing to demonstrate the effects that being blind can have on a person’s life.
Last year, gallery@oxo welcomed Sightsavers, an international organisation that works in more than 30 countries to eliminate avoidable blindness and supports people with visual impairments to live independently. Their free photographic exhibition called Framing Perceptions featured photos by Guardian photographer, Graeme Robertson, who has visited Sightsavers projects in Uganda and North India.
The exhibition aimed to highlight the impact of exclusion and the difference empowerment can make. It told stories of people with disabilities whose lives have been transformed through access to support and training – people like Manju and Bhanvari, two amazing women who run self-help groups in their community for others with disabilities.
Dallu, a 28-year old who rarely ventured out after losing her sight, visited the exhibition: “On arrival I was given a headset with audio description which not only gave the information about each person photographed but also gave me all the visual details of what each picture contained, including what each person was wearing. No details were missed, and I felt at no disadvantage because of my visual impairment. I was delighted to receive a copy of the guide too and particularly pleased that it included Braille.”
And that was not the first time Sightsavers had chosen to exhibit their work at Oxo Tower Wharf. They held their Junior Painter of the Year Awards and their i-click photography competition at Bargehouse in both 2007 and 2008 respectively.
In 2007, the theme was ‘My View – A Child’s Perspective’ and the idea was to offer a glimpse into the way children see the world, with a collection of inspirational and exciting paintings by UK Primary school children, depicting the world from their own perspective. The national and regional winners of Sightsavers International’s annual Junior Painter of the Year Awards were showcased to raise awareness of World Sight Day and also to encourage and celebrate the use of paint in primary schools.
And two years, later, Sightsavers returned for their i-click photography awards, with a ‘Body Language’ theme. Three teens were chosen as national winners and their photos, selected from hundreds of entries submitted by young photographers from across the UK, were displayed in a special exhibition alongside photos by Harry Potter star Katie Leung and X-Factor pop sensation Same Difference.
Emily Tudor, aged 13 from Buckinghamshire, won first prize in the 11-14 category, Stacy Leigh Stewart, aged 16 from Scotland won first prize in the 15-16 category and Lolita Cameron, aged 17 won first prize in the 17-18 category.
Dialogue Beyond Sight
Most recently in July, we welcomed MaMoMi, a social enterprise wishing to enhance the experiences and expand the possibilities available to the visually impaired. Their exhibition, Dialogue Beyond Sight, featured the works of 16 visually impaired artists and performers, which included paintings, illustrations and recitals.
IAPB Photo Competition
IAPB challenges amateur and professional photographers around the world to join in highlighting the impact of eye health in people’s lives, by taking part in an International Photography Competition with theme, ‘#StrongerTogether’. Send them your pictures – professional shoots, amateur compositions, instagrams or flickr – with the hashtag, #StrongerTogether.