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All Souls: The Outside In Co-Commission 2020

[ Exhibition )

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An intricate pen and ink drawing showing a woman with a plae face and dark curl wearing heavy robes.

Madge Gill, Untitled (Queenly Figure), c.1950s, Ink on paper, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester (Presented by Anonymous Donors, 2013)

Artist Julia Oak responds to the work of Madge Gill and the theme of spirituality.

Our bi-annual commission with our friends at Outside In provides opportunities for artists who face barriers to the artworld to create new work inspired by an Outsider artist from the Gallery’s collection.

This year, Julia Oak has been selected to respond to the theme of spirituality and in particular the work of Madge Gill, a widely celebrated self-taught artist known for the thousands of intricate, spiritual ink drawings she produced during her lifetime.

As well as feeling a ‘deep resonance’ with the life and works of Gill, Julia is also a member of the Gallery’s Community Programme and feels a special affinity with the exhibition space – the Gallery’s Print Room.

“With my drawings I would have fantasies about where they might be exhibited and I always thought they would only work in the Print Room,” she admitted. “You think about the people who went before you, their essence remains. To be in a space that people you admire and respect have been is an awesome feeling. The fact you are treading a path that has been trodden by them – and perhaps that people will be inspired in turn is just incredible. I hope that it shows, even in the face of adversity, you can achieve.”

Read Julia’s artist diaries

Everybody needs a chance to demonstrate their ability and unique creativity. Sometimes lived experiences hamper or deny access to opportunities to showcase talent and I believe this co-commission goes towards addressing the inequalities in contemporary art.

Julia Oak

An intricate line drawing of the traunk and branches of a leaf-less tree using gold ink on black paper.

Be inspired by Julia and Madge

Julia Oak describes the process of her mark-making as “dowsing with my pen on paper to discover what lies within”. Her work has little prior planning, only deciding the pens and paper she will use, including size and colours.

Julia has put together two activities for you to try at home, suitable for all ages and levels. All you need is a pen, paper and a little bit of time.

Download the Automatic Drawing activity

Download  the Continuous Line Drawing activity


Watch Julia Oak’s art film ‘All On Paper’ below.

For audio descriptions for her work along with more information about exhibition and associated events, visit the Outside In website.

Visit the Outside In Website

About the co-commission:

All Souls is the second co-commission by Outside In and Pallant House Gallery. The commission invited applications from artists (or groups of artists) that face barriers to the artworld to create a new body of artwork that explores and responds to the work of artist Madge Gill. The applications were judged by a panel of selectors – Simon Martin, Liam Ashworth, a digital artist who has been supported by Venture Arts for the past five years, Natasha H, Outside In artist and Samantha Lackey, head of collection and exhibitions at the Whitworth, the University of Manchester.

The co-commission, which is funded by the John Booth Charitable Foundation, will see the successful applicant receive £5000 and the support of an artist mentor to create work which will be displayed alongside Madge Gill’s work from Pallant House Gallery’s permanent collection and from private collections.

You can see some of the submissions recieved for the co-commission on the Outside In website.