Blind people have always been with us. The attitudes of societies has varied over the years from disgust and horror to sympathy and kindness.
How a painter depicts whether a subject cannot see in contrast to those who can us an interesting subject with a surprising number of examples.
Some if these images clearly reveal the painters attitudes to blinding disability.
Many are sensitive and beautiful creations in their own right.
Looking at these works of art challenges our own preconceptions about blind people.
The transcript and downloadable versions of the lecture are available from the Gresham College website: http://www.gresham.ac.uk/lectures-and-events/the-iconography-of-blindness-how-artists-have-portrayed-the-blind
Gresham College has been giving free public lectures since 1597. This tradition continues today with all of our five or so public lectures a week being made available for free download from our website. There are currently over 1,500 lectures free to access or download from the website.
As well as being the Gresham Professor of Physic, Professor William Ayliffe is a Consultant Ophthalmologist in the NHS and at the Lister Hospital in London. In addition to being a practicing clinician and teacher, he also continues to carry out clinical research into the prevention of blindness.
After taking a first in Immunology at Imperial College, Professor Ayliffe qualified in Medicine in St. Bartholomew's Hospital London. Specializing in inflammatory eye diseases and corneal and cataract surgery he held a research registrar post at Oxford, before training in clinical ophthalmology in Bristol, Manchester and Harvard USA. His PhD was on mechanisms of corneal transplant failure. He has worked in developing countries and also with ORBIS, the international flying eye hospital. In addition to general ophthalmology, Professor Ayliffe has developed a local and tertiary referral service for cornea, uveitis and inflammatory eye disease.
Professor Ayliffe is a winner of the prestigious Wix Prize for the History of Medicine and the Kabi-Pharmacia Prize for immunological mechanisms of corneal transplant rejection. He is a Reviewer for a number of professional journals including Eye, British Journal of Ophthalmology, Journal of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, he is an Examiner for the Royal College of Ophthalmologists and an Advisor to the UK Transplant Service. He has undertaken wide media and TV work for the national press, the BBC and Channel 4, has an extensive range of publications and has delivered prestigious lectures all over the world.