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Sightsavers’ BLINK exhibition scoops multiple awards

December 2020
Sightsavers' BLINK exhibition in London, featuring the BLINK logo and the Sightsavers logo.
Sightsavers' BLINK exhibition in London.

One year after it was exhibited, Sightsavers’ innovative photography exhibition BLINK has won another prestigious award.

BLINK – The End is in Sight was recognised this November at the Charity Event Awards as the winner of Most Innovative Event.

This follows on from a win in the Experiential Design category at the Drum Design Awards, where BLINK was also commended in the Design for Good category, as well as a win in the Red Dot awards for the Design Communication award where it was also named the Best of Best. The exhibition also made it to the finals of the FX Design Awards for Project of the Year as well as being highly commended by Design Week in their annual awards.

The exhibition featured the work of fashion photographer Nick Knight; the late David Goldblatt; and photojournalists Kate Holt, Georgina Cranston and Tommy Trenchard, among others. They were all asked to donate images of a sight they would miss if they were to lose their vision.

It was held at London’s iconic OXO gallery in October 2019 and gave visitors an insight into what it’s like to live with trachoma, a neglected tropical disease that causes a slow and painful deterioration in eyesight. The infection starts like conjunctivitis but, if left untreated, can cause years of agony as the eyelashes turn inward and scratch the eyeball – irreversibly damaging eyesight.

MET Studio, alongside Barker Langham and Jason Bruges Studio, helped to develop the exhibition. They created an interactive experience that provided an artistic illustration of the sight loss associated with trachoma. The digital photographs on display slowly deteriorated over the course of the exhibition, triggered by the blinks of those viewing them – the more blinks, the greater the rate of decay. By the end of the exhibit, the photographs were almost unrecognisable.

In areas with limited access to healthcare, such as rural parts of Africa, people infected with trachoma often turn to homemade methods of dealing with the pain and discomfort, such as plucking out their eyelashes every few days. The disease can force people to give up their livelihoods and become reliant on members of the family or community.

Sightsavers is working across Africa and Asia to eliminate trachoma. The infection can be cured with antibiotic treatments costing as little as 15 pence, and, in the later stages of the disease, a quick operation can fix the discomfort and often restore sight – and people’s livelihoods.

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