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Rachel Gadsden: ‘What I Lost In Sight I Gained In Imagination’

December 7, 2021

An artist whose career has thrived despite dealing with major sight loss has encouraged others with serious eye conditions to pursue their passion.

Rachel Gadsden, from Loughborough, was diagnosed with retinoschisis – a disorder that splits the layers of the retina – 15 years ago.

Now she hopes to use her profile to provide encouragement to other people dealing with a visual impairment.

She said what she had lost in sight, she had gained in imagination.

“I remember the first moment I was told I had quite a serious eye problem and that it was going to have to be seriously investigated,” she said.

“It was like I’d been punched in the chest, it was quite terrifying.

“I came home and made a sculpture in my studio with my eyes closed because I was thinking ‘how’s all this creativity going to come out in another way?’

“Then one day I realised you get on with this or you give up – and I was not going to give up.”

Since then she has exhibited internationally across the mainstream and disability art sectors, winning multiple awards along the way.

“People ask how do I see,” she said.

“I think it’s like swimming under water – sometimes you can see a little bit and sometimes you can’t see anything at all.

“But what’s interesting is although I might see less and it’s all blurred, my imagination has completely gone through the roof.

“So I feel like I see the world in a far more beautiful way and that’s what I hold on to.”

Now she is working with healthcare firm Roche on a campaign, which aims to raise public awareness about sight loss and help to encourage those who have experienced it.

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