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Sunday, July 6, 2014


Experiencing the world through the creative senses of blind people.

Visitors to the 2014 National Arts Festival in Grahamstown will be able to experience the world through the senses of the blind in The House that We Live In exhibition hosted by the South African Library for the Blind (SALB).

The exhibit is on view at 1 Hemming Street just behind the SALB. Entrance is free. Visitors can see paintings, carpets, baskets and photography by the blind and partially sighted. There will also be an exhibition of books by blind authors as part of the 95th anniversary celebrations of the SALB.

Braille and Tactile books produced by the SALB will be available for visitors to touch and feel.

“We wanted to share how the blind and partially-sighted experience the world through the use of other senses and to highlight the creative and artistic abilities of blind and partially-sighted people” says Pasha Alden, the curator of the exhibition, and the SALB’s braille consultant. Her photography will be featured in The House that We Live In.

“As a photographer with very little sight I walk up to an object, touch it and look very closely at it. It is easier to do if there is a sharp contrast,” explains Alden. “My photography is therefore based on the context in which I experience the object and I attempt to convey the texture and feel of an object, landscape, in my work. This is different to the way in which a sighted photographer sees the world in terms of light and shades.”

Running during the festival from July 3 to 12, the exhibition also features colourful sisal mats made by the Rivoni Society for the Blind in Limpopo province. The woven cane baskets that will be on show are made at the DreamHouse Workshop for the Blind in Silverton, Pretoria.

An exhibition of paintings by the late artist Pat McGaffin will take visitors through the different stages of artistic expression while losing her remaining sight due to a degenerative eye condition. Blind South African authors whose works will be showcased include Dr William Rowland, Mrs Hazel Marshall, Mr Anton Pienaar and Albie Sachs.

The inspiration for the name of the exhibition comes from Dr Rowland’s book The House where I live. He is the current chair of the SALB board. International works include those by Helen Keller and British Labour Party politician David Blunkett.

“The variety and breadth of exhibits Pasha has collated from around South Africa reflects the reach of the SALB, which is a national resource based in Grahamstown,” says SALB director Francois Hendrikz.

Festinos in Grahamstown will also be treated to lunch-time mandolin and guitar concerts, as well as performances by the GADRA marimba band on the pavement outside the SALB.

More information from Francois Hendrikz on 046 622 7226 or email: