Archives for posts with tag: walking tours

As I See It Workshop Leader, Amy Conway, gives us an update on what’s been happening with the project.

 

As I See It is back with a brand new project! Last year was a busy one for Kathy, Emmanuel, Joe and Frank, our visually impaired tour guides, with two successful projects under their belt. Back in early April, our guides delivered a fascinating, personalised insight into the Gorbals area of Glasgow, and then in June they hosted a community event in Maryhill celebrating Glasgow dancehalls and the city’s enthusiasm for dance, both past and present.

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As I See It: Dancehall Experience (Photo by Jassy Earl)

 

And as if that wasn’t enough, our intrepid participants finished the year with the research phase of their next project which is all about the public statues, monuments and sculptures of Glasgow.

This is obviously quite a broad topic and not specific to any particular area of Glasgow, unlike our past projects, and we have had a brilliant time so far, thinking about the many existing statues in our fair city, learning a bit about how these statues are created, and starting to think about what statues might be missing from the city landscape.

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Out and about researching

A few fun facts we have gathered from our research for you:

  • If you’re a fan of cartoons, you might already know that there have been two statues commissioned to celebrate the life of Scottish (Partick-born) newspaper cartoonist, Bud Neill. You may know that sheriff “Lobey Dosser” used to sit astride his two legged horse, El Fideldo, on Woodlands Road until it was vandalised and removed by the council. But did you know that there is a second Bud Neill character, “G.I. Bride”, in Partick Station still going strong?
  • Speaking of other statues that have been removed, Robert Burns used to occupy a prime spot in George Square but has been absent recently to undergo restoration and cleaning.
  • Unfortunately we found almost zero statues commemorating the achievements of women(!), but we were interested to learn that the person most depicted in statue form (other than religious icons) in the world was Queen Victoria! Mind you, she did get about a bit.

We’ve also been lucky enough to receive a guided tour of Glasgow Museums Resource Centre by    3-D Art (Sculpture and Installation) Conservator, Stephanie de Roemer. She gave us an exclusive look at some of the pieces she was restoring at the moment and a glimpse into the challenges that an international conservator faces. She’s also employed by UNESCO so gets to help protect sculpture from all over the world, including in places of ongoing conflict! It was particularly interesting to discover that Stephanie disapproves of the infamous traffic cone on top of the Duke of Wellington’s head in Royal Exchange Square. Whilst some feel that this semi-permanent addition to the statue is just part of the cheeky “Glesca” patter, she feels it is disrespectful to the historical significance of the piece, as well as to the publicly-funding authority that maintains it.

Something that irked all of us more generally about the sculptural landscape, is the lack of accessible statues. Older statues tended to be mounted on a high plinth and were generally out of reach with the result that those with visual impairments were not able to fully appreciate or enjoy them. We acknowledged that some of the more modern statues were specifically designed to be interacted with and touching was by no means prohibited, yet there had been instances where this accessibility had led to vandalism or even theft (most recently a statue in the Gorbals got its foot sawn off)!

Having cast a critical eye over Glasgow’s existing statues, observing the recurring features and different types, our guides are now starting to think about what they feel is conspicuously absent. Who or what are not represented in these public artworks? Glasgow institution and champion boxer, Benny Lynch, has already had a statue commissioned which will be erected in the Gorbals area sometime in the near future, but if you could commission one statue for 2017, what would you choose? This is the question our guides will be looking to answer in the coming months and will work with a local artist to realise their ideas.

 

As I See It: Statues is created with support from the Big Lottery Fund. Terra Incognita is working with groups across Glasgow to create new statues of people and events that are currently missing from Glasgow’s landscape. These statues will be unveiled at a special event in June 2017. Watch this space for more information.

 

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For the past eight weeks we have been working with a group of visually impaired volunteers to create a unique walking tour of Kelvingrove Park. This has been a thoroughly enjoyable process, mainly because our tour guides are such a lively, open bunch with a plethora of fascinating stories. But as we’ve walked, talked,  reflected and reminisced I’ve become increasingly aware of how little consideration is given to people with visual impairments and how relatively simple it would be to change that.

I’ve been thinking about:

Advertising
We’re advertising our As I See It Walking Tours to both sighted and visually impaired people. We need to make sure both images and text use high contrast and clear shapes. Outdoor advertising is a good way of attracting a sighted audience, but will be less effective for attracting a visually impaired audience so we’ll be creating an e-flyer and an audio advert as well to ensure information about the walks is accessible. Our website also aims to be as accessible as possible for people with visual impairments.

 
The floor
This may seem a bit of an odd one but as we’ve been walking around venues, streets and parks in Glasgow I’ve become increasingly aware of the difficulties uneven surfaces or multi-coloured surfaces can create for someone with a visual impairment. Both of these things create an uncertainty in what is beneath you – is it step, a hole, a slippery surface, gravel? It’s really important that councils make sure paths and pavements are well looked after, and that venues think about simple flooring designs if they want to be accessible.

 
Cycling on the pavement
I have long been a supporter of cycling on the pavement, mainly because I think (in the absence of proper cycle lanes) the roads are too dangerous and drivers too inconsiderate. However, the As I See It tour guides have several stories of almost being knocked over by cylists on pavements, or at the very least being alarmed at a fast bike suddenly appearing in the little vision they have. If your sight is restricted and you can’t see a cyclist approching, it can be an unsettling surprise to have one whizz by. One tour guide was telling me of an incident that happened last week where a pavement-cyclist shouted, ‘Get out of the way. Are you blind?’ To which he replied, ‘Yes, actually, I am.’

 
Pelican crossings and bank machines
An odd combination but both a demonstration of how little people with visual impairments are taken into consideration but how big an impact small details can have on their lives. At all good pelican crossings there is a small cone under the box where pedistrians press the button to change the lights. When this cone spins, the green man is on – this helps those with visual impairments, who can’t see the green man, know when to cross. At too many crossings this cone is missing or broken meaning there is no reliable system for visually impaired people to use when crossing roads. This can make the simple experience of crossing a road very intimidating. As for bank machines, one of our tor guides can only access his money on week days when the bank is open. He can’t use cash machines because he can’t see the keys to type his pin number.

 
Tin openers
That’s right. A simple object that can be found in most houses and which I use several times a week. For a number of our tour guides, opening a tin is a prolongued ordeal. They can’t see if the opener has pierced or latched onto the tin, the metal of the tin bends as they repeatedly try to fix the tin opener onto it… Sometimes it can take twenty minutes to get the contents of the tin out. This is one of many everyday tasks that become more complicated when you have a visual impairment; easier alternatives should be more widely available.

All of these problems could be solved quite simply. Businesses, organisations, venues, councils and individuals just need to take people with visual impairements into account and make small adjustments to their products, services and actions. Simple changes could have a big impact on the lives of people living with visual impairments.

As I See It will be performed in Kelvingrove Park, Glasgow on 8th November. For more information visit the website.

As I See It is created with support from Awards for All, Glasgow City Council and the Arches.

Written by Terra Incognita’s Artistic Director, Victoria Beesley.

Emmanuel shares memories of spending time in Kelvingrove Park.

Emmanuel shares memories of spending time in Kelvingrove Park.

On 8th November our As I See It tour guides will be leading an audience on their unique tour of Kelvingrove Park. Here’s a sneaky peek at the tour’s route:

1. Emmanuel
The audience will meet by the war memorial of the sitting soldier. They will receive a warm welcome from Emmanuel who will guide them from the memorial, over the bridge, past the bust of Thomas Carlyle to the bandstand. Emmanuel will reflect on the landmarks we pass and will share some personal memories of time spent in the park.

2. Frank
At the bandstand, the As I See It audience will meet Frank. Frank was a professional percussionist for decades, playing with the STV orchestra and a whole host of big names in Glasgow’s old ballrooms. He’s also played at the Kelvingrove bandstand, most recently with the Senior Citizens Orchestra. He’ll be sharing a few memorable stories from his career before walking us along Kelvinway.

3. Joe
We’ll then meet Joe who will walk us back over the River Kelvin, past the children’s playground to the Stewart Memorial Fountain. Joe is a Glasgow man born and bred; he’s lived in the Gorbals his whole life. He’ll be telling us about his first ever trip to Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum as a boy.

Kathy
At the fountain, Kathy will reflect on her career as a midwife and on Glasgow’s role in the history of medicine. Kathy originally moved to Glasgow from the Highlands to train as a nurse and spent decades working in the city.

As I See It is a chance to get an insight into the lives and experiences of four of Glasgow’s residents, all of whom are living with sight loss.

Join us to meet the tour guides and hear their wonderful stories on Saturday 8th November 2014.
Tours leave at 11.30am, 2pm, and 3.30pm from the memorial statue of the seated soldier (duration 45 minutes).

Tickets are free and are available from the Arches box office. Capacity is limited to 10 people per tour, so book soon to avoid disappointment.

In preparation for As I See It, Terra Incognita took part in a training session run by Visibility, an organisation that provides support services for people living with sight loss and visual impairments. Jodie Wilkinson, Creative Learning Programmer at The Arches, joined us for the session. Here she shares her reflections on the training.

Terra Incognita invited The Arches to participate in the training being offered by Visibility. This was a fantastic session. Informative, honest and challenging.

Working with the team we went through a process of understating the myriad of impairments which are currently recognised and diagnosed. We went straight in to the deep end of wearing glasses designed to give us the experience of how the impairment would visually present. This was very highlighting process. Trying to fill a cup, hold a simple group conversation, sighted, lead a person blindfolded around the west end. Immediately we were challenged, provoked, lost, nervous, quiet, responsible, servile.
By the war memorial
The only and best way to really develop empathy towards difference and disability is to experience it in a personal context. This was definitely one of those experiences and one that will stay with me. I want to offer this opportunity to the wider Arches team. It is necessary that we engage with the responsibility of understanding and makes As I See It an even more integral journey and process for a community of people who so often take for granted what it is and means to have sight.

To find out more about the As I See It Walking Tours, visit www.glasgow-asiseeit.co.uk

This September we will begin workshops for our new community project As I See It. Artistic Director Victoria Beesley tells us a bit about where the idea for the project came from.

“A couple of years ago I was crossing the road just outside the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow. As I stepped off the pavement I noticed a man just behind me wearing dark shades and holding a white cane. He was standing stock still, waiting. I circled back to the pavement, paused by his side and said, ‘It’s OK, it’s safe to cross, the green man’s on.’ This simple gesture which took almost no effort whatsoever from me was received with such warmth and gratitude I was a bit shocked. As we crossed the road together, this man thanked me again and again. The traffic lights didn’t beep so he couldn’t hear when it was safe to cross, the cone underneath the pedestrian crossing box (that spins when the green man appears, letting people with visual impairments know when it’s safe to cross) wasn’t working, and the sound of cars heading in other directions at the busy junction was confusing. This man explained to me that, with his sight deteriorating to a point where he had almost no vision at all, he was having increased difficulty crossing roads. And what added to his problem was that people were so rarely willing to help him get across. Earlier the same day, he estimated he had spent twenty minutes trying to cross Hope Street. He had even asked passers-by if they could help him, and had been ignored by all but one.

It is this encounter with a stranger that was the starting point of As I See It. I wondered what other obstacles make negotiating my city unnecessarily complicated for someone with visual impairments – cracked pavements, bulk refuse left for collection on street corners, cars parked on curbs – and  I wondered why people wouldn’t take three seconds to tell that man it was safe to cross the road. Was it because they didn’t realise he had problems with his sight, or because they didn’t want to patronise him, or because they were caught up in their own bubbles as they strode across Hope Street?

I thought that if sighted people took the time to consider Glasgow from the perspective of people with visual impairments, and if people with visual impairments were given the space and time to share their perspective of the city with sighted people, we could maybe start making it easier for that man to cross the road.

So, in September, As I See It begins. We’re going to be working with a group of visually impaired volunteer tour guides to create unique walking tours of Glasgow that will be performed in November. I’m looking forward to discovering Glasgow from this new perspective, to hearing the stories the tour guides have of the city and to our tour guides sharing their stories with you so we can begin a discussion about what we, as a society and as individuals, can do to better serve Glasgow’s visually impaired population.”

Workshops for As I See It  will begin on Thursday 4th September. If you or someone you know would like more information on becoming a volunteer tour guide, please email info@terraincognita.org.uk

More information about the live tours will be coming soon!

 

As I See It is funded by Awards for All and Glasgow Arts.