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Deafblind charity street art asks: What would you miss?

PUBLISHED: 14:53 20 May 2019 | UPDATED: 15:04 20 May 2019

The Deafblind UK mural on Great Eastern Street. Picture: Global Street Art.

The Deafblind UK mural on Great Eastern Street. Picture: Global Street Art.

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A multi-sensory mural has been unveiled on Great Eastern Street to highlight the vital work of Deafblind UK - the national charity supporting people who can neither hear nor see.

Bob Nolan - chairman of the charity - visits the mural last week. Picture: Global Street Art.Bob Nolan - chairman of the charity - visits the mural last week. Picture: Global Street Art.

Consisting of three panels assembled by artist Perspicere, these immersive and touch-friendly pieces are designed to pose the question: If you were deafblind, what would you miss?

"The exciting thing about this project is that almost uniquely for a mural, it's tactile, so people who are both deaf and blind can get as much enjoyment from it as people who are sighted and hearing," says the charity's CEO, Steve Conway.

He adds: "It's actually picking out some of the things that people have said to us they miss by not being able to see and hear, such as waves on a beach or sunsets; all the things that the rest of us take for granted. This is really quite special."

And so the mural - which will display near Dinerama on Great Eastern Street until June 7 - offers an extra layer to the way in which we take in street art.

Deafblindness is thought to impact up to 400,000 people in the UK. Picture: Global Street Art.Deafblindness is thought to impact up to 400,000 people in the UK. Picture: Global Street Art.

From left-to-right, the first illustration shows a beach scene where string has been used in a specific pattern to represent the waves. Next, the sunrise panel sees string used to showcase how light moves in every direction, and finally the woodland walk mural has Perspicere using string to emulate the trees and branches of a forest.

The display is a joint project from developers The Stage - a £750m mixed-use development on the site of Shakespeare's Curtain Theatre - and the Global Street Art agency, whose mission is "to live in painted cities." The Deafblind UK mural has been a thought-provoking one for the latter's co-founder, Lee Bofkin.

"Working with Deafblind UK has been a brilliant experience for us," he says, "and has really pushed our concept of what a mural is and who it is for.

"We're really happy to have been able to include a much broader audience in who can appreciate this mural. We're proud to support the great work Deafblind does."

The mural's forest scene. Picture: Global Street Art.The mural's forest scene. Picture: Global Street Art.

With a history dating back to 1928, Deafblind UK offer practical support to people who face the incredibly challenging - and often terrifying - prospect of living without their sight and hearing.

Shirley Scotcher, the brand's Head of Fundraising, estimates that there are "over 400,000 people in the UK today" afflicted in some way by deafblindness.

"We want people to live the life that they choose - the life that they deserve," she adds.

"(Being deafblind) isn't something you have to just put up with, or cope with, or struggle on through. It's about: how can we help you to make sure that you are able to live the life that you deserve."

You can check out the murals on Great Eastern Street until June 7, and join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #WhatWouldYouMiss. For more details, click here.

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