Cutting edge sound pens at art gallery

Sound Pens launch at the Towner SUS-150429-185029001
Sound Pens launch at the Towner SUS-150429-185029001

Sound Pens, hand-held devices designed for blind and partially sighted visitors, have been officially launched at Eastbourne’s Towner art gallery.

The launch, on April 18 by the Towner’s learning team, is the latest addition to the gallery’s commitment to accessibility.

The new Sound Pens are designed to help visitors orientate themselves throughout the building, as well as explore the work of popular Sussex artist Eric Ravilious and the permanent Ravilious Room at the Towner.

The pens were developed through the Towner’s Arts Break project, which has provided more than 100 opportunities for children and young people with disabilities to take part in creative workshops at the gallery.

Visitors to the Towner can request a Sound Pen at the welcome desk and they can also access some of the recordings through the Towner’s website.

To create the pen, the Learning Team invited a small number of young people with and without disabilities to work with a professional audio describer Lonny Evans and the Towner staff to create their own personal responses to the building and to a selection of works by Eric Ravilious.

On June 25, Arts Break Project Manager Liz Porter and the project team including Arts Break young people will be presenting the Sound Pens project at a Kids in Museums workshop for museum, heritage and arts professionals, as part of their theme, ‘Children and Young People as Tour Guides’, at the Wallace Collection.

Clare Halstead, head of learning at the Towner, explained, “Sound Pens is a great use of technology to open up even further learning, engagement and appreciation of art in the gallery for blind and partially sighted visitors.

“On our launch day, we also invited people to road test the pens and give us feedback, which was really successful. I’d like to thank the young people who took part and also to Lonny Evans, Liz Porter and Lindsey Smith who produced the resource.

“We can’t wait to build on this innovative tool in future.”

Art Break was funded by East Sussex County Council, with support from Eastbourne Borough Council and Arts Council England.