Culture vulture

30th September 2005 at 01:00
Kevin Deegan appreciates art on a multi-sensory level

Best book ever

I read Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bront , late in my teens when I'd just gone to boarding school. It's such a romantic book, from a time when I was into poetry and romance. Not at all the kind of thing I read now, which tends to be non-fiction. At the moment I'm reading Our Greatest Writers and their Major Works by John Carrington, an enjoyable and informative romp from Beowulf to Stoppard, and a book called Introducing Psychotherapy, written by Nigel Benson with drawings by Borin van Loon.

Organ service

I'm reading the psychotherapy book because I'm interested in the psychology of people. I play the organ at services in Wandsworth prison chapel at weekends and I talk to prisoners, not in a counselling way, but the more you know about things like therapy, the better you listen. I volunteered to do it nine years ago: we regularly have more than 100 prisoners at services. It's very meaningful, very powerful. I think sometimes it's when you are in those conditions that you really pray.

Living paintings

My favourite artist is Rembrandt (self-portrait from 1634, left). I think it's the phenomenal detail and colouring of the clothes and things such as embroidery and lacework. I visited his house in Amsterdam and was knocked out by the artefacts he had collected: a feather, bits of wood, things from Africa. I use kits produced by the charity Living Paintings to introduce art to visually impaired students: there are packs on Van Gogh, Damien Hirst and Henry Moore among others. I'm working with an 11-year-old who has an incredibly good sense of space and feels really well. I think it was Henry Moore who said that sculpture should be felt as well as looked at.

Sense of drama

The play I remember best is Athol Fugard's Sizwe Bansi is Dead. I was working in a residential school for the blind; we used to go out two or three evenings a week. At the time I didn't know much about South African politics. But this was so raw. It completely bowled me over.

Kevin Deegan, 54, is peripatetic teacher for the blind in the London borough of Sutton, and a trustee of the charity Living Paintings, which produces touch-and-sound resources (www. livingpaintings.org). Interview by Karen Gold

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