Blind veteran’s art mission

Blind artist Matt Rhodes from Tarleton
Blind artist Matt Rhodes from Tarleton
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A blind artist from Tarleton is auctioning off his work to raise money for the charity he says he owes his life to.

Along with other military veterans, father-of-four Matt Rhodes attended the opening of a special art exhibition at St George’s Hall in Liverpool called Art – Life Beyond Sight Loss’. He has several paintings featured, including portraits of celebrities that have been signed by the subjects. They include Dame Barbara Windsor and Sir Andy Murray.

The exhibition explores the role of art and craft in assisting blind and vision-impaired veterans overcome the barriers and challenges of sight loss.

In 1995 Matt lost his sight after a motorcycle accident during active service with the 1st Battalion, Devonshire and Dorset regiment. He suffered a traumatic brain injury as well as paralysis down the right side of his body.

The paralysis has meant Matt has had to learn to paint with his weaker left hand as well as his vision-impairment and, and due to the nature of his sight loss, is never able to see his creations in their entirety.

He said: “I have half tunnel vision so when I’m working I can only see small sections of the painting like an eyebrow or an ear. I have to work my way around doing each bit on its own. It does mean that I can never see the whole finished work.”

He has spent almost 100 hours working on the artwork at the Blind Veterans UK Llandudno centre, using special techniques the charity’s instructors taught him 10 years ago.

He added: “I owe Blind Veterans UK so much. That is why I’m so pleased to be able to share my paintings and raise money by auctioning them off.

I would never have believed when I lost my sight that I would be able to paint but Blind Veterans UK show you what you can do rather than what you can’t.

“Unfortunately, my injuries have become worse over the last few months and I have had to stop painting conventionally. The attitude remains the same though and I’m already working with the instructors on finding new techniques using new technologies.”

As well as his celebrity portraits, the exhibition will also include Matt’s modern version of the iconic John Singer Sargent painting Gassed.