Dr. Claude Garrandes is blind since the age of 12. He is a retired teacher, active artist, publisher, speaker and president of the Association Arrimage. By merging all his expertise, Dr. Garrandes has developed several inclusive didactic techniques for visually impaired persons. His first encounter with Dialogue in the Dark occurred in 1992, at the Avignon Theater Festival. Dr. Garrandes was positively impressed by DiD, nevertheless, absorbed in his own activities, he lost track of DiD for long time. But, encounters somehow live on; last year, while conducting the Little Prince workshops in Singapore, Mishelle Lim, the Curator of the Singapore Philatelic Museum, connected Dr. Garrandes with DiD Singapore!
Through the Association Arrimage, Dr. Garrandes has put together all his techniques to make arts available for all. His work has been creatively compressed in his activities as publisher. In 1992, he founded "Éditions Claude Garrandes" producing multi-sensory art book targeted not only to blind people but also at a broader audience. His most recent published book is the Little Prince. Dr. Garrandes shared that he discovered the Little Prince when he was young and sighted. Some time ago, while talking with a blind friend, he realized that his blind friend didn’t know that the original version of the Little Prince contains drawings by the author. It was the moment when he started thinking how to bring this art to all.
Soon he discovered the Foundation Saint-Exupéry for Youth, the Saint-Exupéry estate and Gallimard Edition were looking forward to expand their philanthropic works toward visually impaired persons. Edition Claude Garrandes and Association Arrimage obtained the total production for the book so they designed and manufactured the Little Prince tactile version which contains 23 of the original drawings in embossed versions accompanied by
extract of the original text, braille and audio description in English and French.
The Little Prince workshop accompanied the publishing of the book. Anyone – blind or sighted – can attend the workshop which is free, thanks to the support of the initiative sponsors. The purpose of the workshop is to raise awareness about the importance of understanding and creating relief drawing and related techniques which are useful for blind persons, and not only in the artistic field but also in personal development and applied sciences.
For this workshop, Dr. Garrandes uses the work frame of The Little Prince considered particularly suitable for educational purposes. Association Arrimage has produced 2D and 3D models of the author's watercolors, the corresponding audio-description of the drawings, as well as an adapted system for relief drawing. The first step for the attendees is to discover the most famous drawings Antoine de Saint-Exupery made for The Little Prince, and be able to represent the whole image in their mind, what they call the mental image. In this stage different versions of the drawings are offered: 3D printed models, Resin bas-relief, embossed drawing from the book, heated foam and audio-description of the drawings. Here you can see more aboutthe Little Prince workshop by following this external YouTube video. So far, the Little Prince workshop has been conducted in countries like United States, Canada, Switzerland, France, Hong Kong and some other. Among those countries is Singapore, where he conducted the workshops for the DiD Singapore's team. “It was for us, and we hope for the attendees, a magnificent practice! I really enjoyed getting back in touch with Dialogue in The Dark staff and share with them and the attendees.”
I went to Andrew Tan, general manager at DiD Singapore for his feedback:
“The work done by Dr. Claude in bringing life to the characters of The Little Prince is applaudable. A story of childhood wonder and imagination, it brings one on an amazing journey of sight and touch. The crafted work, using 3D modelling, allows the sighted and blind to touch and feel the gorgeous bushy tail of the fox amongst others. This workshop is highly recommended for anyone with a keen interest in the story or wishes to broaden their imagination of The Little Prince's world.”
The experience among Dr. Garrandes and DiD worked so well that when visiting Thailand, the Little Prince workshop was conducted at the DiD venue in Bangkok. “Through these workshops we hope to honor the world famous quotation from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: 'What is essential is invisible to the eye'", Dr. Garrandes said.
For Dr. Garrandes and the Association Arrimage, the work is to be continued. They will conduct the workshop soon in Senegal, Poland, France and United States. Their aim is to bring these techniques to more and more persons for the development of more visually impaired people in the world.
No doubts that encounters live on! We hope that DiD serves as a platform for the Little Prince workshop in other venues after 18 years of our first encounter with Dr. Garrandes!