82-year-old Michael Hammerton is going to have his artwork piece 'Safe Area, Lighthouse Entrance' featured in our annual exhibition this year for the first time with the live auction starting on 20 October.
In Michael's hometown of Reading, he spent two weeks during the lockdown period to complete it. He says: “I was a Draftsman all my life so I’ve always been able to visualise things and put them on paper. I started to become interested in art when we had grandchildren because we would have drawing competitions with them. As they got older, I stopped doing it and it wasn’t until I visited the charity’s training and rehabilitation centre in Brighton for a painting week a couple of years ago that I started to get back into it again”.
We would usually host this event at our training and rehabilitation centre in Brighton. Due to Covid-19 we have taken it online and this year's Virtual Exhibition Fundraiser live auction will be hosted on eBay. The exhibition includes pieces by our blind veterans as well as some staff and volunteers associated with Blind Veterans UK.
Michael got inspiration for his painting from a birthday card he received. He says: “I heard about the exhibition through the charity and I hadn’t done a lot over the last few months in lockdown."
"I now have an art studio at home and do paintings for around the house anyway so I thought I might as well give it a go! I received a card for my birthday with a lighthouse on it so I based my painting around that”.
Michael served in the Royal Corps of Signals for two years. He started to gradually lose his sight and has since been diagnosed with macular degeneration and glaucoma.
Since we first started our work in 1915 with soldiers returning from World War One, the role of art and crafts has been integral to the rehabilitation of its veterans.
From craft skills such as basket-making, woodturning and frame-making in the charity’s early days, to today’s activities of painting, photography, sculpture and mosaic, blind veterans are able to build their sense of independence and develop their creativity.
While once the focus of such training was primarily on the vocational aspects of these skills, blind veterans are now supported in the Blind Veterans UK specialist Art & Craft Workshop to explore the recreational benefits of the arts.
Whether it’s helping to rediscover a skill someone thinks that they may have lost, or encouraging our veterans to try something they’ve never tried before, confidence gained in the workshop often helps to overcome many of the barriers and challenges of sight loss.
“I heard about Blind Veterans UK when I visited the eye hospital in Reading about two years ago. I decided to look into it and they have been supporting me ever since. It’s been great to rediscover my interest in art!”Michael Hammerton, blind veteran
Other artists' work
“Having the chance to pursue the creative arts is a fantastic way for our veterans to regain confidence after sight loss. This exhibition is a real opportunity to showcase that there really is no barrier for its enjoyment, while also raising much-needed funds for the charity.”Louise Kirk-Partridge, Rehab Lead in the Art & Craft Department