St. Neots painter embraces eye position with artistic path work

image source, Kevin Gavagan

image caption,

A self-taught painter was chosen to design a guide dog statue that was displayed alongside other artworks at London's Canary Wharf.

  • author, Harriet Haywood
  • stock, BBC News, Cambridgeshire

An artist in the process of distorting his vision says he's thankful for the „obstacles that life has given him.”

Kevin Gavagan, 53, from St Neots, Cambridgeshire, says he has adapted. Central serous retinopathy (CSR), by creating art that reflects how he sees the world.

The self-taught painter was chosen to design a guide dog statue, which is on display along London's Canary Wharf as part of an accessible art trail.

He said his artwork „became a great escape for me, like therapy.”

image source, Kevin Gavagan

image caption,

Mr Gavagan described his vision as „like looking through a drop of water on a pane of glass”.

At the age of 12, Mr Gavagan developed Tourette's, which caused body tics.

It led to severe anxiety when he reached his late teens and he developed CSR, an eye condition caused by the accumulation of fluid behind the retina.

He described having „little blisters” at the back of his eyes, which distorted his vision, „like looking at a drop of water on a pane of glass”.

'The Great Escape'

„When I was younger I had some talent for art, but after my vision deteriorated I thought I couldn't do it,” Mr Gavagan said.

“But it became as much escapism for me as therapy, and I began to embrace my CSR in my work by deconstructing it and making it more fluid.

„My eyesight, anxiety and Tourette's are difficult when they kick in, but without them I wouldn't be doing what I do, or being who I am, so I'm grateful for the obstacles life has given me.”

image source, Kevin Gavagan

image caption,

Part of his artistic practice involves collecting images and photographs, as well as making notes and drawings that reflect a memory at a time.

The guide dogs charity, event organizers Wild in Art, invited Mr Cavanagh to take part in the Canary Wharf trail, which features 25 guide dog sculptures, each painted by a different artist.

Five sculptures are painted by artists with vision loss issues.

Charlie Langhorne, co-founder of Wild in Art, said: “This trail will be a great opportunity to stroll around Canary Wharf, experience some truly unique and inspiring artwork and learn more about the important work of guide dogs. .”

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Mr Kavanagh's route design is called „hopeful and resilient”, which he says „makes life challenging and beautiful at the same time”.

At the end of the trial period, the statues will be auctioned off to raise funds to help provide essential services and support to the visually impaired.

Deborah Bourne, Director of Fundraising for Guide Dogs, said: “Thank you to the amazing artists and sponsors who make Wharf Paws possible and give us this unique platform to raise awareness of what we do and the importance of inclusion, as well as the opportunity to raise funds by auctioning off these incredible artworks.

Feet on the Wharf continues until May 17.

image source, Kevin Gavagan

image caption,

Many of his paintings explore the emotional memories of his life growing up in a large Irish family in the 1970s.

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