Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum exhibits emotive World War One display

Posted: 14/06/2018 | Scottish War Blinded

Glasgow's Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum has launched what is described as an 'emotive' World War One display, centred around the works of artist Frank Brangwyn.

The exhibition invites visitors to reflect on the impact of war, and the life-changing impact of sight loss sustained by those in the armed forces.

Corporal Davie Timmins QGM, is pictured with a lithograph, highlighting the parallels between the exhibition’s depiction of the forces who served in World War One, and the recent experience of soldiers.

(C) Glasgow Museums. 

Katrina Campbell, Rehabilitation Officer explains how a collaboration between Scottish War Blinded and Kelvingrove’s team has contributed to the exhibition’s accessibility.  

“Colour contrast is one of the most important factors in enhancing visual functioning, in all aspects of life and with printed materials. Text printed with the best possible contrast is very helpful for anyone with a sight loss. Although everyone with sight loss has their own preference, for the majority yellow lettering on a black ground provides the most contrast without the glare that may be experienced with white text.

We were delighted that the team at Kelvingrove took the suggestion to use yellow text on black for the Frank Brangwyn exhibition.

Many common eye conditions can make people more sensitive to light, thus I suggested they use a matt finish, which will also help to reduce excess glare.  However, John Westwell, Design Project Officer at the Kelvingrove stated the matt finish was standard for their literature along with large print. This is great not just from a design perspective, but with accessibility in mind.

We talked about lighting option as we need more lighting as age and many eye conditions need additional lighting in order to maximise their residual vision, however due to the delicate nature of the art they were restricted with the lighting options. 

An iPad is in situ to provide an audio description of the exhibition; this enables people whose sight loss is too significant to access any text, to participate in the exhibition. Audio on a rolling loop means visitors are not required to use play options which can be challenging or impossible with sight loss.

Louise Copeland, RAF veteran, visited the exhibition and commented

“I think that it’s a really good thing that the museum are trying to make this exhibition more accessible for visually impaired people.

It can be challenging to give people with sight loss the same experience of art that sighted people are able to enjoy. One of the best things about the exhibition is the 3D printing of the lithograph. Tactile representations of art mean that you can feel what is going on in the piece. For example if it depicts a house and a rose bush, you can feel where those things are in relation to one another rather than guess. It gives a visually impaired person a better interpretation of the piece than any audio or written description ever could.”

Rebecca Barr, Head of Scottish War Blinded added: “We are very pleased to work with Glasgow Museums to raise awareness of all those affected by sight loss be they ex-service personnel or not. We are so pleased that Kelvingrove Museum have made great strides to allow everyone to interact with this new, poignant display, underlining their clear commitment to equality of access.

The endeavours undertaken by people who experience sight loss have developed hugely since these lithographs were produced. Today and since 1918, Scottish War Blinded’s ethos of supporting independence remains the driving force behind our work with military veterans, irrespective of the cause of their sight loss.”

For more information on the display, please visit the Glasgow Museums website.