London Beyond Sight unites celebrities in show of heritage love

By Culture24 Reporter | 22 May 2013
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Finding the words for some of London's leading landmarks can be difficult. With the expert help of a who’s who of observers, though, a new website is presenting an impressively comprehensive range of sites afresh for blind and partially sighted visitors, ranging from hidden gems to The Shard.

A photo of the inside of a packed outdoor theatre
Shakespeare's Globe Theatre was chosen by trumpet soloist Alison Balsom as part of the evocative London Beyond Sight project© John Tramper
Actresses Barbara Windsor and Joely Richardson, Bestival founder Rob da Bank and broadcaster Tony Robinson – whose choice is a humble pillar box which “really does signify home” near his Maida Vale residence – are among those taking part in London Beyond Sight, an ambitious bid to chart checkpoints across the city through the insights of 40 well-known Londoners.

Judy Dixey, the project’s director, says her campaign has been an exercise in posterity and helping those who will benefit most from it. “It has been enormous fun as well as hard work,” she reflects.

“You can’t believe how fascinating a red pillar box can be until you discover what Tony Robinson thinks about it and start to examine it in detail through his description.

“How many of us are aware of the Buxton Memorial Fountain, hiding in Victoria Tower Gardens just by the Houses of Parliament, and so movingly chosen by the wonderful actor David Harewood?

“It’s a real serendipity, another 38 hugely varied landmarks which mean a lot to some very interesting people.

“The whole project can be endlessly fascinating to both blind or partially sighted and sighted people alike.”

A master artistic director, Siobhan Davies says the Tower Cranes at Kings Cross, which she encounters during her walk along the Regents Canal, inspire her “dancer’s and choreographer’s eye”.

“I am as proud of this as anything I have done and tell everyone about this beautiful and alternative capture of London. There is nothing like it,” she adds.

Sir Derek Jacobi, who pinpointed the famous Old Vic Theatre where he made his acting debut, is patron of organisers VocalEyes.

Newsreader Alastair Stewart (Sir Edwin Lutyens’ Cenotaph in Whitehall), artist Bobby Baker (Paradise Park in Holloway) and the National Portrait Gallery’s Sandy Nairne (St Paul’s Cathedral) are among his fellow contributors.

More pictures:

A photo of a sculpture next to an Olympic park
Mike Brace, who was Chair of Paralympics GB in 2002, chose the ArcelorMittal Orbit
A photo of the inside of a church
The Shrine of St Edward the Confessor, chosen by the Very Reverend John R Hall, Dean of Westminster Abbey© Dean and Chapter of Westminster
Actress Zoe Wanamaker loves the entrance to Bush House
A photo of a greenhouse among gardens
Baroness Young of Hornsey nominated The Palm House at Kew Gardens© RGB Kew
Actress Joely Richardson chose the Albert Memorial
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