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Online project brings art to the blind

Tate Modern offers online expo for the partially sighted

The Tate Modern has launched its first ever online art show for the visually impaired.

The project, which can be viewed here, depicts the work of Matisse and Picasso. It coincides with an in-house exhibition featuring many of the 20th century artists' most famous works.

It's aimed at partially sighted and blind people as well as art teachers who have visually impaired pupils.

The first part of the exhibition is designed for the partially sighted. It features a streaming media animation, which takes a painting and strips it down into its component parts to permit a detailed examination of every area. Partially sighted people often have trouble seeing a complete image, especially if it's complex. By breaking the image down and building it up again the overall picture becomes clearer.

There's also a section where you can print out special 'raised versions' of paintings which work by embossing the shapes and contours of the pictures on to paper. This is designed for blind people and allows them to imagine the picture and gain a sense of its style. Raised versions of the paintings are also available on loan from the Tate.

"We've had a lot of positive feedback from blind and partially sighted people," said a spokesman for the Tate. It's helped to build up their interest in the history of art. A project co-ordinator worked with blind, partially sighted and deaf people before the project was put together and this has helped to remove any obstacles."

Accompanying both areas of the site is a detailed commentary which blind and partially sighted people will be able to hear with special equipment. It talks them through the paintings and gives background information on the contribution of Matisse and Picasso to modern art.

The site concentrates on three pairs of paintings by Matisse and Picasso and displays works such as Picasso's Nude Woman in a Red Armchair and Matisse's The Moroccans, many of which are works chosen from the Tate's permanent collection.

The organisers have done this deliberately, as the online art show will form the start of a resource for the visually impaired which will be expanded once the in-house exhibition closes.

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