You don't look blind...

You don't look blind...

and other Things Not to Say to a Blind Person

Claire Lawrence is a blind visual artist from Syston who was chosen by BBC Three to star in a fantastic, funny and informative video called Things Not to Say to a Blind Person. Here, she speaks to Jill Barkley about living with sight loss, her artistic career and her experience on the BBC show. You can find Claire's amazing work at www.sightlessvisionart.co.uk and you can watch the video in question on BBC 3's Youtube Channel. #howisee #RNIBConnect

Listen to the interview

I was told my dream was impossible

I was told my dream was impossible

Claire Lawrence is regional campaigns officer (RCO) for RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People) for the East Midlands, where she has worked for the past seven years. She was registered partially sighted when she was 16 and then registered blind at 18, and Claire is passionate about improving accessibility and independence for people with sight loss. Claire goes to the gym regularly and has recently started training in mixed martial arts, as well as being an accomplished artist, producing tactile and accessible contemporary work. 

Claire Lawrence is regional campaigns officer (RCO) for RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People) for the East Midlands, where she has worked for the past seven years. She was registered partially sighted when she was 16 and then registered blind at 18, and Claire is passionate about improving accessibility and independence for people with sight loss. Claire goes to the gym regularly and has recently started training in mixed martial arts, as well as being an accomplished artist, producing tactile and accessible contemporary work. 

Joining the RNIB – a happy accident

Joining RNIB was a happy accident. After graduating university I had a sharp drop in vision and felt that I needed to train in different access technology to enable me to join the world of work. I did a six week intensive training course for adults at RNIB College Loughborough. There I learnt to use JAWS, which is speech software for the computer. I also learnt a number of other different coping mechanisms.

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CREATING A NEW DISCOURSE – READING THE WORK OF BLIND VISUAL ARTISTS

CREATING A NEW DISCOURSE – READING THE WORK OF BLIND VISUAL ARTISTS

October- November 2017

A diverse group of professional artists will be hosting a variety of exciting and thought-provoking events during this residency period at the Guest Projects Space.  The artists, all are registered blind and have distinctly different art practices will create and finish new bodies of work. These works will be exhibited in conjunction with a programme of workshops and talks that will critically explore the issues blind and visually impaired artists currently face. The events will aim to speak to and engage with, curators, artists, academic researchers (in the arts, humanities and bio-medical sciences) and of course, those who enjoy encountering artwork.  

The reading of visual artwork created by artists with low or no vision is a problematic activity for both the reader and the artist. Disclosing blindness as a condition of production changes how the work is received. The term, ‘blind’ itself can be confusing as only a small proportion of those registered as blind have no vision at all and levels of residual vision can significantly vary. Consequently, the practices of ‘blind artists’ can often be confined to two unsatisfactory camps of definition. These can be crudely summarized as: ‘amazing feats of achievement’ or ‘special needs outputs’. In both cases a negative stigmatisation results, which makes it difficult for the practices to be rigorously investigated and for the artists to be taken seriously as professional practitioners.

During this residency and the associated events, the participating artists will explore ways in which a new discourse can be developed surrounding art created by artists who are blind. Questions surrounding disability and difference in the current political and social climate will also be raised and we are confident that this will provide useful cross over’s that resonate with other demographics. 

The event promises to provide some high quality artwork, learning and debate. Practitioners working in a wide range of media will include: Sally BoothClaire LawrenceAaron McPeake andHugh Huddy.

Featured in Lexus Life magazine

Featured in Lexus Life magazine

Before any leather is considered good enough for use in a Lexus, it is burned, ripped, scuffed and scored in a battery of gruelling tests to find just how well it will maintain its quality through years of wear and tear. British artist Claire Lawrence, who is registered as blind, has captured the spirit of these tests in her creation of a series of artworks, using the same Lexus leather as her canvas.

In a further interpretation of Lexus’ principles of ‘creating amazing’, she has been inspired by the multi-sensory qualities of the leather used in cars. Her creative process involves burning holes in the leather, which are then laced with stitching before being coated with a clear varnish, adding extra dimensions of visual interest and tactility. The result is work of a very special nature, and adds an intriguing new dimension to Lexus’ concept of quality and craftsmanship.

Her works were on display at the Lexus Leicester showroom in Britain.

Says Lawrence, “I usually work with canvas. At first I found the leather much harder to stitch and burn, and the burning was also more controlled. I was hesitant about varnishing the leather, as it was so beautiful, but I was encouraged by Lexus to do whatever I usually would to create my artworks. “I am so glad I did, as the varnish on the leather is so crisp and enhances the burn and the colour of the material. They look far more organic, with the leather appearing to gain a flesh-like quality.”

Lawrence was diagnosed with a degenerative eye condition when aged eight. She went on to complete an art degree, but a subsequent sharp decline in her vision curtailed her artistic ambitions. It was the chance gift of a blowtorch in 2013 that proved the inspiration for a new creative approach that has produced new work and the Lexus commission.

“As I have tunnel vision, I can never see the piece as a whole, only sections of it, so in a sense, my art is a representation of my eyesight,” she said. 

Read the article here

Blind artist from East Midlands uses blow torch to create art work with leather

Blind artist from East Midlands uses blow torch to create art work with leather

Originally posted by posability magazine

Claire Lawrence, who is registered blind, is exhibiting her new work at the Lexus Leicester showroom on 7 May and is urging other budding artists with sight loss to keep following their dreams.

Claire, who is 31 and lives in Syston, was diagnosed with the degenerative eye condition Autosomal Retinitis Pigmentosa when she was 8yrs old.

Claire explains her work:

“Despite my increasingly deteriorating vision I chose to go ahead with an Art degree at University, as this was my passion and I wanted to do it while I still had some remaining vision. My work then and now tends to focus on the tactile; I like to push materials to their limits: freezing, burning, deconstructing and rebuilding.

“I enjoy the spectacle in art and want the viewer to experience and enjoy my work on different levels.

“Following completion of my degree in 2007 my eyesight took a sharp decline. I had given up on creating art work.

“However, in 2013, with my eyesight as stable as it had been for three years, and my frustration at my lack of creativity peaking, a moment of inspiration, the gift of a blow torch and a desire to express myself kick-started and revived my creative passions.”

In November 2015 Claire was contacted by an executive from the Lexus UK team who had seen her work and wanted to use her unique talents to create a series of artwork using leather.

Claires’ work

Before any leather is considered good enough for use in a Lexus, it is burned, ripped, scuffed and scored in a battery of gruelling tests to find just how well it will maintain its quality through years of wear and tear. Claire captured the spirit of these tests in her creation of a series of new artworks, using the same leather for her canvas.  In a further interpretation of Lexus’s principles of “creating amazing,” she has been inspired by the multi-sensory qualities of the leather.  Her creative process involves burning holes in the leather, which are then laced with stitching before being coated with a clear varnish, adding extra dimensions of visual interest and tactility.

Richard Rhodes, Lexus Leicester Head of Business, said: “Claire’s work is very special and adds an intriguing new dimension to Lexus’s concept of quality and craftsmanship. We are delighted to be able to support the work of a very talented local artist and hope that our customers and other visitors will enjoy seeing the exhibition.”

EAST MIDLANDS BLIND ARTIST TAKES TORCH TO LEXUS LEATHER IN NEW ARTWORK COMMISSION

EAST MIDLANDS BLIND ARTIST TAKES TORCH TO LEXUS LEATHER IN NEW ARTWORK COMMISSION

Unique works to go on display at Lexus Leicester’s showroom.

Originally published by Dluxe Magazine

Before any leather is considered good enough for use in a Lexus, it is burned, ripped, scuffed and scored in a battery of gruelling tests to find just how well it will maintain its quality through years of wear and tear. East Midlands artist Claire Lawrence, who is registered blind, has captured the spirit of these tests in her creation of a series of new artworks, using the same leather for her canvas.

In a further interpretation of Lexus’s principles of “creating amazing,” she has been inspired by the multi-sensory qualities of the leather.  Her creative process involves burning holes in the leather, which are then laced with stitching before being coated with a clear varnish, adding extra dimensions of visual interest and tactility.

Claire said: “I usually work with canvas and at first I found the leather much harder to stitch and burn, and the burning was also more controlled. At first I was hesitant about varnishing the leather, as it was so beautiful, but I was encouraged by Lexus to do whatever I usually would to create my artworks.

“I am so glad I did, as the varnish on the leather is so crisp and enhances the burn and the colour of the material. They look far more organic, with the leather appearing to gain a flesh-like quality.”

Richard Rhodes, Lexus Leicester Head of Business, said: “Claire’s work is very special and adds an intriguing new dimension to Lexus’s concept of quality and craftsmanship. We are delighted to be able to support the work of a very talented local artist and hope that our customers and other visitors will enjoy seeing the exhibition.”

Claire was diagnosed with a degenerative eye condition when aged eight. She went on to complete an art degree, but a subsequent sharp decline in her vision curtailed her artistic ambitions. It was the chance gift of a blowtorch in 2013 that proved the inspiration for a new creative approach that has produced new work and the Lexus commission.

“As I have tunnel vision, I can never see the piece as a whole, only sections of it, so in a sense my art is a representation of my eye sight,” said Claire.

solo Exhibition opens 7th May 2016

solo Exhibition opens 7th May 2016

On the 6th May 2016 Claire is proud to announce she will be having a solo exhibition of all of her work at the Lexus Leicester Showroom. There will be a VIP champagne reception on Friday the 6th for invited guests and then the exhibition will be open to the general public over Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th May. Please come and view/touch the work for yourself. There will be a selection of different works including, Lexus - The Hard Way, Autosomal, BALLS and Feeling is Believing.

BLIND ARTIST WORKS HER MAGIC ON LEXUS LEATHER

Originally published on Lexus website HERE

A Lexus is engineered to deliver hundreds of thousands of miles of faithful service, witnessing occupants climbing in and out and sitting in its luxurious interior thousands of times in its lifespan. That’s why we’re committed to using the best materials which still feel special even after many years of use.

We asked artist Claire Lawrence to give us her unique insight into the leather Lexus uses in its interiors. She is registered as blind, and focuses her artistic expression on the tactility of a subject, rather than solely its aesthetic appeal. How would she rate the leather used in a Lexus? Watch our film to find out:

Claire’s technique of burning holes into canvas wasn’t easy to replicate with the Lexus leather. “Traditionally, I would burn through canvas just by aiming the blowtorch on it so you get interesting shapes,” she explains. “I did that on my test pieces of leather and I was there for a good two or three minutes, so good for you, Lexus, it can take a hell of a lot!” In our own product testing, Lexus uses a similar burn-through technique to test the durability of our leather materials.

The other part of Claire’s artistic technique involves sewing thread over the shapes created in the canvas. She did the same with the Lexus leather, resorting to scissors to create shapes inspired by the Lexus logo: “The other major challenge was the sewing – [the leather’s] thin and it feels gorgeous, but to actually puncture it with a needle and pull thread through was quite a challenge.”

Like Lexus, Claire never takes the easy route with anything, realising that continually challenging oneself is the way to create something truly special. So every time you sink down into the sumptuous leather interior of your premium Lexus, ponder how Lexus’ pursuit of perfection has created an environment that is strong yet supple, hard-wearing but soft to touch. It feels great, doesn’t it?

Leicestershire blind artist creates blow torch art

Leicestershire blind artist creates blow torch art

Originally featured on the BBC news website. See original article HERE

A Leicestershire art graduate who put aside her dreams of becoming an artist when she was registered blind at 21-years-old has been getting creative again - with a blow torch.

Claire Lawrence, from Syston, who has a degenerative eye condition which means she has only 6% visibility, said she was given the blow torch as a gift and it has helped her release her "frustration to create something".

The artist's works are now on display at the Ellerington gallery, in Leicester, after being spotted by the owner.

Ms Lawrence, who works for the Royal National Institute of Blind People, hopes to encourage other blind or partially sighted people to follow their ambitions.

Visit the original article to view a video.

Lexus Commission

Lexus Commission

In early November 2015 I was contacted by the PR team at my day job and from Louise Ellerington who runs the gallery where my Autosomal show was exhibited. Toyota UK were interested in commissioning a piece of work. I was over the moon, assuming that it was a piece of work for one of their show rooms, which would be great.

I contacted Jonny Smith to discuss what they wanted, and very early into the conversation I realised that they wanted a bit more than just a show room painting. Jonny explained that an Executive at Lexus had seen my work and wanted to create a web documentary of my work being created and to exhibit the final piece. They wanted the final piece to be large, in the style of the Autosomal work and made out of leather.

Here is the original Hard Way video I was shown to help me link my work to Lexus:

Lexus sent test samples of the leather to see how it would work, before sending enormous sheets of beautiful leather in a variety of colours. The only brief I was given was to have it vaguely related to Lexus so an “L” seemed like a good shape to lead with.

Filming for the web documentary was an awesome experience and a really fun day. Jonny and his team wanted to film in my natural environment so it was all done in the comfort of my own home. Jonny interviewed me about myself, my eyes, art and the leather. Even my cat Steve managed to get involved with the filming. Many close ups where taken of me working, blow torch, stitching and varnishing. The team also filmed a number of my other works that are dotted around the house.

So far I have seen the first cut of the film; I am very impressed and proud. I do hate hearing my own voice, but I guess that’s normal! Hopefully the finished piece will be out in the next month or so; I can’t wait to show everyone!