Leading the Blind:
Leading the Blind is a photographic exploration into how we visualise the invisible. This work is an investigative response into memory, the past and our ability to readapt and challenge isolating or controlling environments through expressions of mutual-aid and self-empowerment. Community self-organisation in overcoming adversity or struggle through acts of collective participation and collaboration as opposed to competition and division.
By weaving the past with the present, Leading the Blind is influenced by uncovered historical events in which the collective action of blind workers overcome control and isolation to improve their lives directly. The images presented are attributed to bridging this historical landscape with a period spent with a blind and visually impaired knitting group who meet to socialise, converse and support each other collectively. The human ability to readapt and challenge isolating or controlling environments through examples of self-empowerment is undoubtedly a factor of evolution.
The act of revisiting the past by way of unearthing the hidden histories, the marginalised or the forgotten, is an attempt to reclaim the narrative and how we respond to and gain knowledge from historical moments. In exploring such concepts, this work explores the actions taken by a number of blind and visually impaired craft workers. Virtually invisible to society at large, they overcame fear and isolation to collectively improve their lives and working conditions during the early part of the last century. The events of 1939 at Gwynn's Institute in Derry, became one of the first known industrial disputes taken by blind workers.
Until the great mass of the people shall be filled with the sense of responsibility for each other's welfare, social justice can never be attained. Helen Keller