Saturday, June 14, 2014
Painting was a passion of seven decades, but as blindness robbed Peter Barrington of his vision he was resigned to never putting paint to paper again.
But now the Brundall artist has returned to his easel to create an evocative image of Norfolk’s rapeseed fields, thanks to a charity dedicated to helping blind veterans.
Although losing their sight would be a bitter blow to many, the 85-year-old said it was a minor problem compared to the murder of his 18-year-old son Richard a decade ago.
Mr Barrington started painting aged 10, and studied at the Canterbury School of Art before starting his national service in 1948.
He combined his love of painting and photography with a passion for flight, and his works hang in the headquarters of the Danish Air Force, and private collections.
He worked for the Royal Observer Corps for 25 years, and retired to Norfolk in 1980, but 13 years ago he lost the sight in his right eye.
Doctors told him macular degeneration would eventually cost him the vision in his left eye, too, and in 2012 he was registered as severely sight impaired, and stopped painting.
“I just thought ‘This is it’. I just thought it’s natural, and this is the way it is going to be,” he said.
But while he may be stoical, his wife Jan said his condition left him depressed, sitting in his chair and unable to do anything.
Eighteen months later, a welfare officer from Blind Veterans UK installed a desktop screen reader, which uses an overhead camera to enlarge flat objects until they are big enough for Mr Barrington to see.
Now he can sketch ideas for paintings until he has an image fixed in his mind, which he then puts on canvas.
Although he can no longer paint the detail of an aircraft, Mr Barrington’s new painting captures rapeseed fields, who brightness he can still see, while his wife photographs the field edges to help him convey them accurately.
He said: “When I started again I felt on top of the world. I can do something – there were things I gave up.”
Now he is already working on another rapeseed field, and a sunset.
He said: “Perhaps it is a message to other people that you can have another go.
“Don’t sit there looking at the wall. Get up and have a go.”
See blindveterans.org.uk or phone 020 7723 5021.
Has a charity transformed your life? Email firstname.lastname@example.org