Artist helps visually-impaired people rediscover drawing

An artist has been working with visually-impaired people in South Shields to create seaside-inspired artwork.

Customs House new exhibition Making Sense by North East artist Jenny Purrett (R). From left Sight Service Kerry Pattison and Maxine Munsey
Customs House new exhibition Making Sense by North East artist Jenny Purrett (R). From left Sight Service Kerry Pattison and Maxine Munsey

Jenny Purrett teamed up with charity Sight Service, based in Gordon Street, South Shields, to create Making Sense.

The exhibition, which is now showing at the Port of Tyne Gallery at the Customs House, in Mill Dam, is part of the venue’s year of drawing.

Customs House new exhibition Making Sense by North East artist Jenny Purrett

Jenny said: “The focus of the project was to help people with visual impairment develop a confidence or redevelop their confidence in their drawing skills.

“Many of them had been practicing artists before but sight loss had affected them, but this project helped them look at drawing in other ways.

“We went to the beach and selected materials to work with and explored other ways of drawing. They said it felt like they were ‘clarting around’ but being a southerner, they had to explain that to me.

“I’m so pleased with how the work has turned out and I think they will be blown away once they see it all hanging in a gallery.

Customs House new exhibition Making Sense by North East artist Jenny Purrett

“Some of the members saw bits of their work framed and couldn’t believe it was theirs. This drawing project is a real reminder that everybody draws and everybody can.”

Maxine Munsey, training manager at Sight Service –a charity dedicated to enabling visually-impaired people in South Tyneside and Gateshead – said: “I was contacted by Esen Kaya, from the Customs House, to see if we’d be interested in taking part in a project and we had a meeting with her and Jenny.

“Those taking part took a trip to the seafront with Jenny to look for inspiration and I’m just absolutely thrilled with what they’ve done. It all looks fantastic, it’s so peaceful and beautiful.”

Esen, the venue’s visual arts curator, added: “This project was to embrace and include people with visual impairment so that they had the same opportunities as everyone else to take part in a creative activity and work with artists.

Customs House new exhibition Making Sense by North East artist Jenny Purrett

“This is an incredibly sensory exhibition that very delicately explores a group of older people who have different forms of visual impairment and their relationship with drawing.”

Making Sense runs until March 13.

The gallery is open from 10am to 8.30pm on performance days, 10am to 6pm on non-performance days, Sundays and bank holidays. Entry is free.

South Shields-born artists Danny Gilchrist has created an exhibition to run alongside Making Sense.

Customs House new exhibition Making Sense by North East artist Jenny Purrett

He created portraits of the Sight Service members taking part in the project, including his own father, Dennis.

His exhibition, This Is Me, is on show in the Upper Fusion gallery until March 13.

Danny said: “I was asked by Esen Kaya, from the Customs House, to create these portraits. They’re more than just pictures of people because I’ve tried to incorporate their personalities into them as best I can.

“I really enjoyed doing them. My dad is one of the people and that was really interesting because I’ve never done a portrait of him before.”

Customs House new exhibition Making Sense by North East artist Jenny Purrett
Customs House new exhibition Making Sense by North East artist Jenny Purrett
Customs House new exhibition Making Sense by North East artist Jenny Purrett
Customs House new exhibition Making Sense by North East artist Jenny Purrett
Customs House new exhibition by Danny Gilchrist
Customs House new exhibition by Danny Gilchrist
Customs House new exhibition by Danny Gilchrist
Customs House new exhibition by Danny Gilchrist
Customs House new exhibition by Danny Gilchrist
Customs House new exhibition by Danny Gilchrist
Customs House new exhibition by Danny Gilchrist
Customs House new exhibition Making Sense by North East artist Jenny Purrett
Customs House new exhibition Making Sense by North East artist Jenny Purrett
Customs House new exhibition Making Sense by North East artist Jenny Purrett
Customs House new exhibition Making Sense by North East artist Jenny Purrett
Customs House new exhibition Making Sense by North East artist Jenny Purrett
Customs House new exhibition Making Sense by North East artist Jenny Purrett
Customs House new exhibition Making Sense by North East artist Jenny Purrett
Customs House new exhibition Making Sense by North East artist Jenny Purrett
Customs House new exhibition by Danny Gilchrist
Customs House new exhibition by Danny Gilchrist
Customs House new exhibition by Danny Gilchrist
Customs House new exhibition by Danny Gilchrist
Customs House new exhibition by Danny Gilchrist
Customs House new exhibition by Danny Gilchrist
Customs House new exhibition by Danny Gilchrist