Veterans at Colchester Recovery Centre ...

Vibrancy in a world of darkness: blind artist teaches veterans a new approach to painting.
Veterans at Colchester Recovery Centre recently got a visit from a registered blind artist who has developed a unique way of painting.
X year-old Annie Fennymore, from Walton-on-the Naze in Essex, was just 28 years old when she started having blurry vision. When she was told that she would have no vision by the age of 40 Annie refused to treat it as an ending; instead embracing the change as a new beginning.
“I don’t see any point in sitting around and moaning about the cards I’ve been dealt in life. Lets just move on and work with it. I’ve walked through glass doors and fallen down steps, but I just pick myself back up again. You just have to look on the bright side of life and learn to laugh at yourself. I’ve had a few really funny moments too. Like when I took my guide dog to the supermarket and a fellow shopper was very concerned that she was bleeding. They erupted into fits of giggles when I told them that I must have spilt paint on her but couldn’t tell as I was blind”.
Annie has developed her own form of tactile art; using acrylic paints and raised mediums to mark out her planned subject. This gives her the shape she needs to fill in the area with paints using her fingers. She only uses a brush for backgrounds and larger canvases. Annie showed the veterans some of the materials she uses, which includes blue tack to mark out the shapes and plastering grout to fill out the area. She has also been known to use kitchen paper, coffee filters, cupcake cases and bubble wrapin her work to make various items such as roses and boulders.

In 2011 she won a highly commended award for her portrait of her then Guide Dog Amber in the Helen Keller International Art Award. The inspirational part is that the judges weren’t even aware that she was blind: “All of my art is an interpretation of what I think it looks like and not what is actually looks like in reality. I’m doing this art for my own enjoyment; it’s just a bonus if it turns out to be good! Its for the public to decide how they interpret the painting. For me, it’s not about fine art but about form and shape. Its about feeling the paints and making the most out of those senses I do have”.
The veterans also received a demonstration of the technology which enables her to keep on painting. One devise, which is shaped like a pen, reads special barcodes on tubes of paint verbally describing the colour and texture. Another devise can be held to any item and it will read out its colour. It has caused her some embarrassing moment though, like when she was in a clothes shop and the security guard nearly arrested her as they thought it was a taser!
The veterans really enjoyed the session which highlighted a new way of working that they had not previously thought about. “It was at Colchester Recovery Centre that I first picked up a piece of charcoal and used it for drawing after some 40 years. I discovered that I actually really enjoyed it and this developed into painting. I do however have plenty of unfinished pieces as they just didn’t look right. What I’ve learnt today is that I should just carry on regardless. Its more about the enjoyment of painting than creating a masterpiece”.

With her father in the RAF and her husband in the Navy,Annie naturally wanted to work with Help for Heroes: “The best currency in the world is sharing. I’m taking a different angle on painting and I like to share that with others; encouraging others to think about a new approach to life. I think its really important to support those who were prepared to give their life for their country and now have some resulting issues from their injury or illness. Comradeship is key to helping someone recover and giving them a second chance at life.

Annie describes her art as: “vibrancy in a world of darkness” and her techniques as “not just crossing the line but creating a whole new world”. Check out her artwork here:



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Help for Heros images.


Coming up…
September 2018
Wednesday 12th September
Talk – Blind Alley Art
Shepperton Film Studios, Studio Road, Middlesex, TW17 0QD
Annie will talk about her father’s connection with Shepperton film studios where he drove vehicles for films for the soundtrack in 1930’s and also how he became the ‘face’ of Exide Batteries in 1950’s. She will talk about her art how she creates it and what materials and mediums she uses.  She will include how she lost her vision and what it is like to be a blind artist.
Ticket - £25 available from Bright Events or from Barbara Robertson on0193278810
10.00 am – 12.30 light refreshments available
Location – The Orangery, Shepperton Film Studios, Middx

Sunbury Embroidery Gallery, Thames Street, TW16 6AB
Annie Fennymore – Blind Alley Art.  A collection of Annie’s art will be on exhibition which will include new work using new materials and methods together with some favourites.
Date – 2nd October 12 November 2018
Entrance – Free
Open Tuesday – Sunday 10 am – 6 pm. (Closed on Monday)
Location – Sunbury Embroidery Gallery, Thames Street, Shepperton TW18 6AB Middlesex.



Click here to see Annie's Achievements

Exhibition at The Estuary Wine Bar, Manningtree