A few years ago I attended the ‘In Touch with Art’ International Conference organised by St. Dunstans, held at the V & A. This also gave me an opportunity to showcase my tactile paintings.
In the distance, I saw a man with long grey hair and a full grey beard. He put me in mind of an aging rock star. I had absolutely no idea who he was, nor was I aware that he was blind. I attended the next talk and this same man walked onto the stage and was introduced as Kevin Carey, Chair of the Royal Institute for the Blind. I later introduced myself to him and asked him if he would allow me to paint his portrait. It was over a year before I was to meet with him again, visit him at home and spend some time with him.
The visit did not start very well, I had left behind my camera and a couple of sample tactile portraits and I felt like such a twit. Happily Kevin’s wife Margaret came to my rescue and lent me her camera.
The first thing that struck me was just how much energy Kevin had and soon I was to learn more about his truly fascinating life. He went to Cambridge and Harvard and sadly by the age of 26 years had lost his sight. He told me he had loved art and has always had a love of music.
What is so remarkable about Kevin is how many hats he has worn and continues to wear. To name just as few, Journalist, author, poet, Chair of RNIB, former member of Ofcom Content Board, he was a Nesta fellow in Accessible Broadcasting, he also holds a Royal Television Society Engineering award for accessible television. He has been the Chair of the Ofcom/DCMS Community Radio Fund Panel and in addition is a regular contributor to two magazines.
If that was not enough to fill his life, he is also the CEO of humanity, an IT Consultancy, specialising in Information Design and Architecture. Investee Champion, Board Member, Social Investment Business, Author and Reader for the Church of England.
When I last spoke with Kevin his seventh book and first play came out and he was working on his third Christmas poem book and had a couple of others lodged with the publishers for further publication.
I am sure if you were to ask him what he does in his spare time, he would reel off another list. An awesome character and I was very happy to include him in my portrait collection ‘I AM NOT WHO YOU THINK I AM’