Unseen Trails: Journeys made Visible Exhibition

Welcome to the Unseen Trails Exhibition at St Margaret’s House, Edinburgh from 23rd November 2019 to 30th November 2019

The following descriptions have been made available through a QR code for visitors to the exhibition so that they can be used with text to speech software. We will post more information from our opening event later.

We expect visitors to participate in the creative process by touching the tactile pieces and leaving their own fingerprints on the work.


We all move through the world in different ways. These passages through space and time leave traces – some visible, some invisible. This exhibition looks at these journeys from two perspectives, sight and touch. Alan McIntyre’s work, White Stick Trails, is a visual depiction of how he navigates his environment. His other works Dream Walks explore journeys and walks through nature and are explorations of how he can make these paths (and his art) meaningful to himself as an artist, who is losing his sight and to others.

The concept of White Stick Trails was used as a catalyst for the second section of this exhibition Imizwa Yobucuko (Pulse of Creativity) a collaboration between Crossing Countries (a Scottish social enterprise), Mason Lincoln Special Needs School and Bobbi Bear (a human rights organisation for sexually abused children) both in South Africa.  Their work maps both their everyday paths and the longer journeys they have taken towards safety and education. Creativity comes in many forms. Although, these artists may not have created visual art before, they all have the pulse of creative thinking in their veins as their lives testify.

Dream Walks (2019): Alan McIntyre

These works explore journeys and walks through nature. I have always been fascinated by maps and their multipurposed values of telling you where you have been, where you are and where you want to go. Maps encourage boldness and the creation of adventure. They can give so much inspiration and potential for good times. Like adventure postcards that are yet to be written. These works are interested in concealing and revealing paths and traces of imagined journeys across memories of landscapes of my imagination. While the details and functions of maps are now lost to me, and the locations and fascinating complex designs of the maps are mere shadows and imagination. I used the abstract nature of map fragments as patterns and designs as fractions of memories and locations of past trips or holiday captured screenshots. Exploring memories of unseen journeys that I have yet to take.

Taking a Trip (2019) Alan McIntyre

This collage series explores travel and play. My love for collage has increased as my sight loss has progressed. The excitement of realising the subject of a collage paper after feeling the shape is thrilling. Using collage playfully to combine and contrast travellers and landscapes in unusual combinations. Making unseen journeys of fantastic unrealities.

White Stick Trails (2018)  Alan McIntyre

Alan wanted to capture impressions of his emotional and sensory experience as he navigates his environment and to incorporate these into his art practice. He is reliant on the signals from his white stick and by taping a marker pen to it he was able to trace his path around objects on a paper path.

Trail Fragments (2018) Alan McIntyre

To further explore inclusivity, variety and diversity, he made smaller ‘trail’ drawings that use special “swell paper”. This produces a raised line that can be felt. His work also includes a video made using accessible technology with his own musical composition expressing his journey.

Introduction: Imizwa Yobucuko (Pulse of Creativity) Mason Lincoln Special School

The blind and visually impaired learners at Mason Lincoln Special Needs School copied Alan’s technique. For many this was their first opportunity to create art. They chose to use coloured paint markers and made three banners. Two of the banners were cut up and used as backgrounds on which they created their own haptic vision of their journeys around the school grounds. The Tree of Empowerment, a collaboration with Bobbi Bear, depicts the journey the children took towards a place where they could deal with the trauma in their lives and felt safe.

These pieces were created as examples to demonstrate to the blind and visually impaired learners at Mason Lincoln School how different materials can be used to show their journeys around an environment. They were asked to create something that not only depicted their view of the school grounds from above but also was a pleasing ‘painting’ to touch.

Imizwa Yobucuko II (Pulse of Creativity II): Njabulo Hlongwane

Born in 1970, in Lamontville, south of Durban. I studied art at Johannesburg Art Foundation a private art school between 1992 and 1994. I later did a B-Tech degree at Durban University of Technology. My work is about everyday life that in the townships but, I focus more on the conflict that exists between the Zulu culture, its customs and Christianity religion. I feel that Colonialism has robbed us of our true cultural identity. In my work, I wish to find the balance between the two as they co-exist in my life. Having been born in the township, I feel like I have missed a lot of important things about my cultural identity that could have contributed to my understanding of who I am.

Tree of Empowerment: Mason Lincoln Special School & Bobbi Bear

When the children and volunteers at Bobbi Bear heard about what was happening at Mason Lincoln School, they wanted to be part of the exhibition. To symbolise their journey to the Tree of Empowerment under which they meet on a Saturday morning to play games, have food, get counselling or first aid, they painted their feet and ran across this sheet. Some ran straight there, some walked slowly, and some took longer routes. When the art teacher at Mason Lincoln heard their story, he painted this Tree of Empowerment with the autistic learners.