Scottish War Blinded Veterans with sight loss show off self-portrait sculptures at Kelvingrove Museum

Press Release | 16/10/2018

A group of veterans with sight loss were “ecstatic” as an exhibition of their self-portrait sculptures went on show to the public at a Glasgow museum this week.

The Seeing Through Sculptures event at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum featured five self-portrait busts – made by veterans with visual impairment who are supported by Scottish War Blinded.

The clay sculptures, which show amazing likenesses to their creators, were made over eight sessions, led by artist Jason Davis at Scottish War Blinded’s Hawkhead Centre in Paisley.

On Tuesday (Oct 16) the veterans attended the museum and proudly showed their work to visitors of all ages, explaining how they created the beautiful pieces.

Veterans proudly pose with their self-portrait sculptures at the Kelvingrove Museum

And many youngsters also got stuck into the event’s ‘Eye Challenge’ – clay model making while wearing simulation spectacles which simulate sight loss. 

Robert White, 88, from Paisley, is one of the veterans who had his sculpture on display.

Robert, who has no central vision, said: “I was ecstatic to see the sculptures on display. I surprised myself, even while I was making my sculpture. The clay was quite easy to work with, I found it very interesting.”

Another of the veterans, David Martin, 35, from Barrhead, who has sight in only one eye, said: “It’s lovely – at last the heads have been put on display.

“I can’t believe how good they are. Making my sculpture was a great experience, just seeing the transformation from a big wad of clay. The things we get to do at the Hawkhead Centre are fantastic.”

And veteran Christina Johnson, 89, who has sight loss as a result of macular degeneration, added: “You never know who maybe can't see properly, so it makes a difference to tell people what it's like and about what we do at Hawkhead.”

“The children who spoke with us at the museum hadn't realised we'd made the sculptures ourselves and were quite interested to hear about it.”

Visitors were also keen to learn about the specialist equipment on display at the event, which is available free-of-charge to Scottish War Blinded members to help them retain independent lives despite their sight condition.

Hawkhead Centre Manager, Sally Ross, explained the event was a special day for the veterans.  

Sally said: “The veterans have been waiting for this for quite some time. It’s a big moment to get something you’ve made into the Kelvingrove Museum. It’s a great sense of achievement for the veterans.

“Getting to demonstrate the equipment Scottish War Blinded can provide to veterans with sight loss and tell people more about what we do at the Hawkhead Centre has also really worked well.”

And Shanana Khaliq-Lyon, Learning and Access Curator at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum added: "We were really delighted to have the sculptures and veterans here at Kelvingrove Museum - they have been brilliant.

"When I first visited the Hawkhead Centre, as soon as I saw the sculptures, I was so impressed and thought we just had to have them on display at Glasgow Museums.

"It's really important to work with organisations like Scottish War Blinded. To have more people walking away from the museum after visiting and meeting the veterans with more of an understanding of sight loss is really important. It also underlines our absolute commitment to equality of access for all across Glasgow Museums.”

Scottish War Blinded gives free support to former servicemen and women of all ages, no matter if they lost their sight during or after service.

The Hawkhead Centre offers activities with transport provided free of charge. Call 0800 035 6409 to refer a veteran to the charity.