Andy Hemphill

Created 10 Aug, 2011   - 0 Comments  


Andy originally trained to become a Registered General Nurse, working initially in a High Dependency Unit then moving to the Royal Free Hospital in London where he specialised in Adult Intensive Care for the next ten years.

In 1990-91, Andy started to develop a hereditary eye disorder known as Lever’s Optic Neuropathy, the end result of which is central vision blindness.

This meant, because of the necessity for accurate vision and precision in the speciality in which he was employed, thatAndy had to give up his chosen career.

From an early age Andy had a keen interest in Art and had been offered a place at the Glasgow School of Art when he was eighteen.

Andy took it upon himself to get back into working in 3d and almost by chance came across what was in effect a foundation course in Art and Design at the Royal National College for the Blind in Hereford. After completing the course there, he re-applied, and was accepted, to join the BA (Hons) Design course at the Glasgow School of Art.

It was during his time as an undergraduate that Andy took a special interest in working with sensory deprived individuals and groups, basing his dissertation upon this. Graduating in 1998, Andy has continued to work in this area whilst developing his own artwork.

Extracts from a Visual Diary

“Generally speaking, for many people it can be a strict discipline to keep a written record of meetings, events, encounters and episodes in their lives in the form of a diary or memoir. For others the same function can be served by quite simply keeping a record of text messages or emails.

For me, I try to draw most days in monochrome or colour. The drawings are sometimes representational but, when finally developed into a painting, they tend to be finished in an abstract, colourist format. When I have completed an image in this way, no matter where it ends up, the expressive mark making and colour is fixed in my memory.

Part of the reason for my working in this way comes from my experience of working with sensory impaired children and young adults. I would like to leave you with three short quotes, which for me define this.

“I really like yellow, I find it easy to see. I can see it most clearly when it is beside blue” Young partially blind girl trying to explain her perceptions

“How can people see trees through this window when the trees are so big and the window is so small and solid” Young man blind from birth with no visual memory

(What Colour Is the Wind?: Insights into Art and Visual Impairment

Authors: Sue Blagden and John Everett)

Finally, my young niece Katie, when she was about four years old, drew me a picture. On completion I said, “This is a very interesting drawing, can you tell me about it?” In a flash Katie spontaneously replied, “It’s a head Uncle Andy but I’ve just made it look like a wee present”

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