Online audio description and discussion during a pandemic

I’ve been really enjoying The Photographers Gallery (TPG) Slow Looking online audio description and discussion sessions! It’s such fun looking closely and deeply at great photographs – created and curated by experts.

Then I was asked to comment on the process, alongside Caroline Dawson, an expert Audio Describer, and Janice McLaren, Head of Education & Projects at The Photographers’ Gallery.
The whole write-up is here – and here below is what I wrote:

“I used to live just five minutes from TPG. So I really missed it when I moved away.
During the pandemic, I was shielding. I had to focus on some of the most basic basics. Like how to get hold of food. When, eventually, I got that sorted (thank you Oddbox!) I started using my own recycling to make a totally new type of art (for me) – resulting in my big installation Safe as Houses crammed across my front room. But I was really missing going to galleries. So I definitely wanted to give the TPG Slow Looking a go.

The system of letting us look before the talk meant I could decide what I thought and what questions I wanted to ask. Then the detailed audio description provided answers as well as bringing up yet more questions. Using my iPad for Slow Looking is, to be honest, much better for me with my visual impairment than peering through a bit of glass in the gallery. More ‘nose to art’. As well as easier for a sort of ‘standing back’. With all the encouragement to ask questions and discuss, I felt really properly included. Like this was a splendid clubI – and everyone else too – was suddenly now a proper part of. Not elitist at all. But intimately close to the highest levels of art.

I am especially interested in audio description for my own artwork and it was really great to hear a master, or rather I should say a mistress, at work. And I really appreciated having the photographers there to give in-depth insights into their practice as well as the content of their work.

As the pandemic grinds on, I’m back having to focus on some of those less interesting practicalities. But I know I’m going to get back to more substantial art-making very soon. I’m going to be revisiting some of TPG’s selected artists. Oh how inspired I’ve been! Especially – but not only – by the hybrid work.”

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