By: Philippa May THE Royal National College for the Blind (RNC) has given a permanent home to the national BlindArt Collection, the world’s first permanent showcase of fully accessible visual art which includes more than 30 exceptional paintings, sculptures, installations and other works of art that appeal to a multitude of senses.

The BlindArt Collection is now on display in a dedicated gallery space at RNC and will be open to the public throughout Herefordshire Art Week until September 20 (1pm to 7pm daily), when visitors will be encouraged to explore and interpret these diverse and thought provoking pieces through texture, sound and smell as well as sight.

The Collection will continue to open every Thursday (1-7pm) and Sunday (10am-5pm) after h.Art for the public, education projects and participation in other local, regional and national arts events. Entry is free of charge.

Ian Pickford, CEO/Principal at RNC said: “As a key player in national and international innovations in teaching and training for people who are visually impaired, and as a leading resource centre for professionals working in the field, it is fitting that RNC can now play a part in making the world of art more accessible, particularly to those affected by sight loss. We are thrilled to be able to give the BlindArt Collection a home.”

Sheri Khayami, Founder and Director of the charity BlindArt said, “RNC is absolutely the right place for the Collection, which is all about access, interpretation and inspiration. The Collection is living and breathing proof that visually impaired people can and do create great art. RNC can help us to encourage more people to appreciate that, while inspiring others to express themselves through creating great art too.”

The College has also unveiled a new piece of public artwork at its Venns Lane site, created by the world renowned metalwork artist Walenty Pytel.

Seeking inspiration after an accident caused memory loss, Walenty, whose public artworks include the Jubilee Fountain at Westminster, ‘Take Off’ at Birmingham Airport and Europe’s largest metalwork sculpture at JCB in Birmingham, found it in a student painting.

‘Frantic’ by Sarah Withers depicts a man running in the Futurist style, capturing movement. Sarah achieved a grade A in A level Art when she completed her studies at RNC in 2004, and Walenty has brought her painting to stunning three dimensional life in galvanised steel.

Called the ‘4Runner’, the sculpture stands on a 14 foot plinth ‘running’ towards the entrance of the College’s new sports and conference centre, thePoint4, which is open to the local community.

Herefordshire-based artist Walenty said, “This piece is totally unique and I couldn’t create anything like it again. I did some clever welding but it isn’t my design, it is the work of this lovely, talented girl. I usually base my work on wildlife or mythical creatures – there will be nothing else like this in the world.”