Pottery as a form of expression for visually impaired persons

Pottery really lends itself to someone who is blind or has a severe sight loss with its tactile nature and its form.

Allan Mabert

Allan Mabert, aged 71, signed up for the clay modelling course at Bedford House Community Association (BHCA) four years ago and still says it’s the best afternoon of his week.

Allan was born in Calcutta and emigrated to the UK. He is the epitome of someone who has forged his way through life never allowing his disability to get in the way of progress and achievement. Despite his severe sight loss, he developed his career initially as a social worker and then with the Guide Dogs for the Blind charity over 20 years. He became the first blind Magistrate in London and he spent 13 years sitting at Barking and Snaresbrook. In the mid-seventies he was an athlete at the start of the Paralympian movement and broke the record for the 400 meters in Poland in 1977.

Allan said “I remember doing clay at my secondary school when my clarity of sight was restricted but a great deal better than it is now. It is tactile, easy to use and make corrections and quite unlike any other art form. I loved it.”. Fast forward many decades later, joining a clay modelling class at the BHCA, under Esther Neslen supervision, proved ideal for Allan.

He said “This is such an important part of my life which has enriched me greatly. I missed it so much during lockdown and could not wait to get back to Esther’s careful and patient nurturing and encouragement. It is a very special, supportive, and encouraging group of students. Then I moved on to try my hand at the wheel and again I never stopped to think I could not do it. The group is wonderful and so friendly. We all care about each other, and we feel that, and it shows.”

Allan Mabert at the wheel

Pottery was just one of the challenges but has turned out to be the love of Allan’s life. As he says “A few years ago it was out of bounds and look at me now. Still the best afternoon of my week and where I am at my happiest.”

Extract from Christine Baker’s article

Bedford House Community Association, (BHCA) is based at 4 Westbury Road, Buckhurst Hill IG9 5NW where it has been established since 1949. BHCA offers outreach and courses covering a wide range of arts, crafts, health, fitness and wellbeing and leisure activities.

BHCA classes are small which enables the tutors to dedicate time and support to meet student needs. CEO Lykke LeszczynskisaidLots of students have different situations which are not as obvious as Allan’s and they are accommodated by tutors. We pride ourselves on our flexibility, quality of teaching, and the range of courses we offer.”

Visit www.bedfordhouse.org.uk

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