Getting back into art, and art appreciation, when you have sight loss

Post date: 
Monday, 18 July 2016

Living Paintings is a charity that produces "Touch to See" books for blind and partially sighted people of all ages. It is a free library service which has an ever-growing range of audio and tactile books for blind and partially sighted people of all ages.  

How does it work?

Every tactile or audio book, plus any accompanying material, is sent out via post completely free. Any blind or partially sighted person is welcome to join the library as can their carers, teachers and families.  With each book, they always include a return address label so that you can return them without any cost to yourself. Loans are normally made for three months but can be extended at any time.

Can I do it with other people?

Living Paintings also run groups, for which they provide books which can be enjoyed with a number of people at the same time. These books are called Touch To See Book Clubs. They currently have approximately 3,500 Touch to See Book Club members across the UK. Many of our Touch to Book Club members use our books as inspiration to create their own works of art. Here is some feedback from a Club Leader in the South East of England.

“I was very excited to open our delivery from Living Paintings and share van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’ at our meeting on Monday. We each had a tactile Sunflower painting, a coloured copy of the painting and silk sunflowers. This was a great recipe for inspiring art making. The tactile images had an immediate and extremely positive effect, allowing everyone the opportunity to touch-see at their own pace. It brought the painting to life. I then handed everyone a large canvas on which to create their own Sunflowers. Most of the members felt the tactile image with one hand and drew with the other. Each member’s work of art was a mixture of painting and low relief tactile versions, using wires, plaster mod-roc and collaged papers.  Living Paintings books have gorgeous paintings, beautifully made thermoforms, lovely narration/story telling with wonderful music. Thank you Living Paintings.”

For adults we provide a wonderful selection of Albums that cover diverse topics such as:

  • Famous works of Art
  • Architecture
  • Garden Design
  • Cookery and nutrition 
  • Tours of popular British Cities
  • Nature

These albums feature many famous voices: recent collaborators include Michael Sheen, Sean Bean and Lauren Laverne. 

For children and young people, the service includes: 

  • Living Picture Books that bring to life the illustrations in classic story books
  • Teacher Resource Packs that support National Curriculum Subjects
  • Topical Packs that provide fun and interest from a leisure perspective
  • Art History Book Packs that introduce an artist and their work

To make things even easier, they've organised all of their books into Discovery Hubs - collections of different themes. So if you find a particular area you're interested in, you can explore and learn even further. 

How to get involved

You can join online – visit or phone us on 01635 299771. Or check out the frequently asked questions for more information. 


Best of Connect