Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA)
17 June – 15 August 2010
An innovate exhibition, designed to stimulate engagement with the visual arts by people with disabilities, opens to the public at the Irish Museum of Modern Art on Thursday 17 June 2010. Altered Images comprises works from the collections of South Tipperary County Council, Mayo County Council and the Irish Museum of Modern Art, all of which have been selected and curated with a view to creating an exhibition which is accessible, interactive and inclusive for all, but especially for those with disabilities. The exhibition was originally scheduled to open at IMMA on 19 May. However, due to some recently-discovered access difficulties, the exhibition has had to be relocated from the first to the ground floor galleries causing the start date to be rescheduled.
Altered Images includes work by Thomas Brezing, David Creedon, Alice Maher, Caroline McCarthy and Abigail O’Brien, with specially commissioned works by Amanda Coogan and Daphne Wright. The exhibition already met with an enthusiastic reception when shown at the South Tipperary County Museum, Clonmel, and at the Ballina Arts Centre, Co Mayo, in 2009. The IMMA exhibition will be officially opened by Fintan O’Toole, Assistant Editor, The Irish Times, at 6.00pm on Wednesday 16 June.
The idea that a visual art exhibition should be accessible to all is not a new one, most museums and galleries have an access programme that enables people with disabilities to experience art works. However, the idea of selecting an entire exhibition with an emphasis on accessibility in a multi-dimensional way is relatively new in Ireland. The exhibition aims to enhance people’s engagement with the works through the tactility of relief models, by listening to the audio and artist’s descriptions and by viewing the sign language interpretation by Amanda Coogan.
Altered Images works on many levels. The selected works all make reference to classical or art historical sources either in the method of depiction or their subject matter. While each of the partner organisations has very different Collections in terms of capacity and the period of time they have been collecting, it was agreed at the outset that each would be represented equally. Each art work is accompanied by a multi-sensory display in order to provide meaningful access. In addition, an audio CD and Braille documentation of the large-print exhibition catalogue are available on request. Sign language tours are available by arrangement and an accessible website for the project can be found at www.alteredimages.ie
Padraig Naughton, Director, Arts and Disability Ireland commented in the accompanying catalogue: “What makes Altered Images an advance on what has gone before in an Irish context is the curation of a whole exhibition that has a multi-sensory approach to access thus having an inclusive appeal that will reach the widest audience possible. While in my reflections I have concentrated predominantly on my access requirements as a visually impaired person, Altered Images intends to provide access solutions that are cross-impairment while simultaneously creating an exhibition of equal interest and accessibility to a non-disabled audience. Consequently encouraging disabled people and their families and friends to come and explore the exhibition together. Furthermore it will for example allow people who are blind or deaf to explore the conceptual nature of visual and sound art along side non-disabled people.”
On Friday 18 June IMMA is hosting a seminar to reflect on the experience of the partnering institutions and to explore the challenges, practical issues and resources involved in delivering an exhibition of this scale. Speakers, who are invited to share information on their individual experiences, include Marcus Dickey Horley, Curator of Access Projects, Visitor Services Manager, Tate Modern; Anne Hornsby, audio describer, Mind’s Eye; Anne McCarthy, Arts Officer, Mayo; Orla Moloney, Arts Council; Johanne Mullan, National Programmer, IMMA; Padraig Naughton, Director, Arts and Disability Ireland; Damien O’Connor, Disability Arts Coordinator, Mayo Arts Office; Sally O’Leary, Arts Officer, South Tipperary County Council; Loz Simpson, model maker, Topografik, and Georgie Thompson, Assistant Curator: Collections, IMMA.
The access difficulties which necessitated the relocation of the exhibition have arisen in advance of structural works being carried out by the Office of Public Works (OPW). On the OPW’s advice, the Museum is unable to facilitate access by lift-dependent visitors, including wheelchair users, to the First Floor Galleries in the main building until further notice. The Museum greatly regrets this inconvenience. In addition to the Ground Floor Galleries, the New Galleries and IMMA’s café and bookshop remain accessible to all visitors.
Altered Images continues at IMMA until 15 August 2010. Admission is free.