Detail of Artemisia Gentileschi's face looking at the spectator

The Interval, #2

Welcome to the second edition of The Interval – a time to pause and enjoy cultural experiences remotely until our cherished venues can re-open their doors. This week’s edition is by Anna, Museums, Galleries & Heritage Programme Manager.

Arts and heritage audio description

Disappointed that the National Gallery’s highly anticipated Artemesia exhibition is postponed? To tide you over, have a listen to this comprehensive description of Gentileschi’s extraordinary Self Portrait as Saint Catherine of Alexandria.

This exhibition will take place later in the year – read more about it on the National Gallery website.

The River Thames will be there when lockdown is lifted, footpaths awaiting promenading, and Illuminated River bringing the bridges to life. This long-term, contemporary, kinetic artwork is currently lighting Southwark, Millennium, Cannon Street and London Bridges. Hear evocative descriptions for each bridge on the VocalEyes website, enhanced with musical extracts from compositions by Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

If the music excerpts have whetted your appetite to hear the full pieces, they are available on the Illuminated River website.

Following the recent opening of the permanent Being Human gallery, Wellcome Collection is being called one of the world’s most accessible museums. If you’ve not yet visited you’ve a treat in store after the Interval. For now, you can explore every single object on display in the Being Human gallery, through a full catalogue of audio descriptions. Or if you’d sooner hear a highlights tour of 11 of the incredible exhibits, that is an option too.

Delve into a world of drama with this library of 30 descriptions of historical treasures at Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust, Stratford-upon-Avon. Do you know what a hornbook is? Find out on the Trust’s Soundcloud.

Enjoying the natural world when in isolation

Fresh air, green spaces and wildlife can do wonders for health and wellbeing. At this time, more than ever, do we need a little lift where we can find it. You may be fortunate to have a garden or balcony from which to enjoy some time in nature. If not, simply opening a window or door, can still bring an uplifting experience, from all the activity and new life springtime has to offer.

In collaboration with BBC Springwatch Elizabeth Guntrip pioneered Wildlife from my Window – a way for disabled people unable to leave their homes to share their experiences with nature. Read more about the initiative on Lush’s website, and there are some shared testimonials on the BBC website.

Get involved on Twitter – follow @LizzieGuntrip and @BBCSpringwatch and use the hashtag  #WildlifeFromMyWindow to join the community.

VocalEyes look forward to helping to increase access to outdoor heritage spaces. Read about what we’ve done so far and plans for the future.

Art Matters podcast

Check out this fantastic podcast created by Art UK, covering all manner of intriguing topics such as hair trends throughout art history, bank note designs, and astrology in art – plus an episode featuring VocalEyes where we discuss access to art for blind and partially sighted people. Over 50 editions await your listening pleasure. Also available on the Art UK’s Soundcloud.

Novels and stories

Choose from the great selection of recorded books that Audible have made available for free, for all ages. Peter Rabbit, or Paradise Lost? 

Support from Braillists

Braillists, a grass-roots community group connecting Braille readers with Braille technology developers and funders, have put together information, advice and means of support for this challenging time in their post Stay Safe: Stay Connected.

And finally…

Until such a time as we can get back through the doors of the Natural History Museum, time to get acquainted with a rare specimen: Ten reasons to love echidnas

Congratulations to the winner of last week’s quiz, Anne Bale! The answers are:

  1. Imperial War Museums; 2. Jorvik; 3. National Slate Museum; 4. chess pieces; 5. National Tramway Museum; 6. Liverpool and St. Ives; 7. Trafalgar Square; 8. National Motor Museum; 9. Madrid; 10. teddy bear

Stay safe and keep in touch with us by email, Twitter and Facebook.

Please support us

As you can imagine we are facing a severe loss of income over the coming months due to the closure of theatres, museums and heritage sites. If you feel that you can help us out with a donation, whether it’s a little extra spare cash or the price of a ticket refund, it will go a long way to ensure that VocalEyes will still be here, bringing arts and heritage to life through audio description, when the venues open their doors again. Please consider making a donation via JustGiving or learn about other ways you can support VocalEyes.

Image: Self-portrait of Artemisia Gentileschi.