26 October 2012 — 3 February 2013
Outside In: National is a ground-breaking exhibition of works produced by artists from the edges of society. It showcases 80 moving, beautiful and unique works of art from across the country, each a testimony to the enduring creative spirit.
Shown for the first time in the Gallery's main spaces, the exhibition has been curated from over 2300 pieces submitted to the Outside In: National competition over the past year. From substance misusers to self-taught visionaries, the exhibition provides a unique insight into the extraordinary breadth and vitality of work produced by individuals from outside the mainstream art world.
The history of non-mainstream art goes back to Jean Dubuffet who first coined the term Art Brut (‘raw art') in 1945 to describe individuals producing work ‘unscathed by culture'. Then, in 1972, the British writer Roger Cardinal invented the term, ‘Outsider Art', as an English equivalent. Over the last century countless names have been invented for the various sub-categories of non-mainstream art such as naïve, primitive, folk, visionary, and singular amongst others.
Many of the artists involved in Outside In have circumvented traditional art processes and techniques. Freed from convention, they often evolve highly personal ways of working. The works in the first foom, titled 'Intuition' all share a similar sense of spontaneity in their creation. They serve as examples of art liberated from conformity - full of pattern, colour and life and a reminder that the creative instinct resides in all of us. At its heart the impact of Outside In and the values it carries are a liberating influence for both artists and audience, allowing a broader discourse and wider participation in the art world.
The second room is titled 'Introspection'. Reflecting the inner workings of the human mind, many of the works are driven by obsession and compulsion, often exploring the darker and more mysterious shadows of human consciousness. There is a predominance of black pen and ink work on white paper as the nib appears to lend itself to inner workings, enabling an evolving process that grows with the imagination.
The final room is titled 'Insight'. Many of the artists in this room use their life experiences to create art. Some of it is politically driven and polemical, drawing upon and reflecting life experiences in order to share and create understanding, and some of it cathartic powerfully expressing the pain that life can sometimes bring.
Outside In: National headlines a season of exhibitions at Pallant House Gallery celebrating non-traditional creativity. During the exhibition at Pallant House Gallery, there will also be an audio trail throughout the Galleries, Outside In: Step Up, highlighting research into the Collection by Outside In artists.
Outside in was set up in 2006 by Pallant House Gallery to provide opportunities for artists with a desire to create who see themselves as facing a barrier to the art world. The goal of the project is to create a fairer art world which rejects traditional value and institutional judgements about whose work can and should be displayed.
At the heart of Outside In is an avoidance of labelling and there is no set criteria for inclusion in the project. Artists are asked to provide a brief description about why they feel they should be included in the project which is not shared publicly and an artist's statement which is submitted with their work and forms a reference point within the exhibition.
Marc Steene, Deputy Director at Pallant House Gallery, has spearheaded the project, describing it as a ‘gentle revolution', designed to enable a fairer art world where all who create have an equal opportunity to sit at the table and have their work seen and valued. He says ‘The challenge we are embracing is to reconsider how we define who is and is not an artist and what is and is not art in order to change attitudes in the mainstream art world'.
Since launching in 2006 Outside In has developed a number of other exhibition and training opportunities alongside the triennial exhibition including Outside In: Step Up, which provides sector-based training through its Workshop Leaders, Research and Curating Programme; a dedicated website which houses thousands of artworks by non-traditional artists; and a series of satellite regional and touring exhibitions.
The Outside In: National competition was launched in July 2011. Submissions were invited from artists who find it difficult to access the art world for a variety of reasons such as health, disability, social circumstances or because their work does not conform to what is normally considered as ‘art'. Entry to the competition is free and is open to artists across the United Kingdom.
80 works were selected to be exhibited at Pallant House Gallery from more than 2000 submissions to the competition by Tony Heaton, Director of Shape Arts; Collector of Outsider art, Rose Knox Peebles; Outside In ambassador and former Outside In award-winner Carlo Keshishian; and Marc Steene, Deputy Director of Pallant House Gallery.
Six award winners have been chosen to each have a solo exhibition at Pallant House Gallery in 2013 and 2014 by a panel of three judges: Art Historian Roger Cardinal, the author of the first book about Outsider Art (1972); acclaimed performance artist Bobby Baker and Stefan van Raay, Director of Pallant House Gallery.
Pallant House Gallery is the home of Outside In. Additional funding is provided by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Arts Council England and Accentuate.