This is my first attempt at an (or a) 'Art in Context' Review . . .
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@(C) Copyright 2001 by keitharmstrong, all rights reserved, except
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An Exhibition of photography by
Julian Burgin, Nicky Coutts, Marcus Doyle,
Photini Papahtzi and Stephen Walter
10th August until 1st September 2001
10.00 am until 6 PM Mon-Sat.
Gallery: Inside Space
Great Tichfield House
14-18 Great Tichfield Street
London WIW 8BD, UK
Tel: 020 7299 6699
I live in London in the U.K.
One morning, an invitation dropped through my letter box to an art
show view on the ninth of August. On one side of the postcard there
were details of the show, but without any access information and on
the other was a black and white image by Nicky Coutts, depicting a
reproduction of 17th century Dutch painter Johannes
Vermeer's famous 'Lady standing at the Virginals' with the human
representation removed. It is simply titled 'Seem 2000'.
One of my first reactions was to ring up the gallery and ask them
about their access details. I use an electric wheelchair.
Then I thought why should I have to ring them up about this, I am
certain that nondisabled don't have to do that. Anyway it has now
been six years since the Disability Discrimination Act has been
passed, New Labour are now in Government and London is the capital of
the fourth most wealthy country in
I should be more positive. After all this is 2001.
The ninth of August, was a typical London summer's day, there were
gray clouds and it had rained on and off all afternoon. I set off on
my journey. Great Tichfield Street is situated in the London borough
of Westminster. I arrived in Westminster. I have traveled around
the streets in many parts of London, but somehow I have never found a
reason to visit or pass through Great Tichfield Street. So I asked
some friendly people for directions. They pointed me in the right
As I neared, I realised why I had never traveled down that street. I
discovered that nearly the whole area is inaccessible. A number of
times I was forced back, and then had to go out on the road and 'play
with the traffic' in order to continue with my excursion. The grey
streets seemed to match the grey damp clouds overhead. Well I was
going to an art show, surely all artists share a sensitivity of
I arrive at the outside of the gallery. I am faced with a grey
step. The step is too large for my chair to climb.
Luckily the outside of the building has a big window and I can see
in. I can see the exhibited version of 'Seem 2000'. Sadly, while
this is far larger than the invite image, it is still in black and
white and represents a sad reflection of the colours of the
original. During World War II, some of Vermeer's paintings were
forged and sold to the Germans, I feel sure they had colour.
I was told that there no visual descriptions of the images in formats
that blind or partly-sighted people could use.
It is interesting to note that the original Vermeer can be seen in
the accessible National Gallery also in London, in its colourful
The rest of the show seems to represent poor illustrations that look
backwards rather than any sense of the here and now, so represented
by the brilliance of Johannes Vermeer in his time of the late 17th
After the view I was invited to a local pub, unfortunately up another
large step. As I was not going to be review that establishment, I
allowed my chair to be carried in. I felt I had to leave before all
the users got to intoxicated, I do not feel safe in buildings with
steps and no ramps. In addition the nearest accessible convenience
was over a mile away. Not a good area to have an impairment.
.@(C) Copyright 2001 by keitharmstrong