Art as a form of self-expression


Calligraphy artist Wesley Seah, 50, is blind in his right eye and has less than 40 per cent of vision in his left eye. This was the result of a rare type of glaucoma which gradually took his vision from 2002.

When he first put brush to paper, the results were "hilarious", he said. He did not know how large the piece of paper was or where he should start and end the painting.

"I didn't even know if the brush was on the paper," he said with a grin. "I ended up painting a lot of the table and it was very messy."

Mr Seah first became interested in calligraphy in the course of his work as a guide coordinator for Dialogue In The Dark, a teaching and learning facility at Ngee Ann Polytechnic. He worked as a headhunter before he became blind.

"I didn't do very well at art in school," he said with a laugh. "I used to get something like 20 marks out of 100. It was a challenge to start painting but it was also good to challenge the mindset that a visually impaired person cannot paint."

He soon learnt to be sensitive to non-visual cues, such as the pressure of the brush on paper and the texture of different surfaces.

He also learnt how little twists and turns of the brush could create different strokes. "I found I was using art to express my feelings. People say I use strong strokes when I'm angry, for instance."

Mr Seah has sold some of his work for charity.

Through his experience with art, he has learnt to "never say never", and hopes society will do the same.

"Employers also have to be more open-minded. Who's to say a visually impaired person cannot use a computer or even fly a plane," he said. "With new technology like voice controls, it's all possible."

"Learning calligraphy has shown me that art has no boundaries."

Sue-Ann Tan

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 03, 2017, with the headline Art as a form of self-expression. Subscribe