British artist Sargy Mann, who died aged 77 in April this year, was legally blind for more than two decades. He numbered among his friends Dudley Moore, with whom he played in a jazz band, and the authors Kingsley Amis and Elizabeth Jane Howard, the couple Mann lived with in his early years as a painter.
Blindness was perhaps the worst outcome for someone who loved art and was a renowned painter. However, re-entering his studio for the first time after his progressive retinal and corneal diseases rendered him fully blind, Sargy Mann discovered that his memory and imagination had become his vision. He continued to paint and exhibit his collections with works that were internationally recognised.
“I had to sort of reinvent painting for myself. It seems sort of more or less impossible but if you’re just determined to keep going, you know, you don’t need to give up. Because if your subject is your own experience, then as long as you’re having an experience, you’ve got a subject. And that has turned out to be true, even into total blindness.”
In this video, Sargy explained his techniques, which included his innovative use of a cardboard tube and blu-tack to guide him on his canvasses.