Over the past 7-months, OutsiderXchanges, a visual arts project based on collaboration, reciprocal learning and creative exchange has brought together six learning disabled artists and six contemporary visual artists in one studio space. Taking parity of ideas and aesthetic approaches as a starting point the resulting works blur the line between art and life, inviting the viewer to challenge their own conceptions of art and what might be considered ‘outsider’ art.
Led by Venture Arts, a visual arts organisation based in Manchester that specialises in developing the creative talents and career opportunities of learning disabled people, OutsiderXchanges has been delivered in partnership with BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art (Gateshead), Castlefield Gallery (Manchester), thanks to public funding through the National Lottery by Arts Council England, and Manchester City Council.
New works developed throughout the project will now be exhibited at a series of events and exhibitions including at the Quay Gallery at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art that opens to the public on Saturday 1 October 2016.
Artists involved in the project include: Juliet Davis, Barry Anthony Finan, Matt Girling, Jane Louise Graham, David James, Sophie Lee, Sarah Lee, Horace Lindezey, Simon Raven, Rosanne Robertson, Leslie Thompson and acclaimed artist Tanya Raabe-Webber. Ten of the artists have been working from one of Castlefield Gallery’s New Art Spaces in Manchester and two from BALTIC 39 in Newcastle.
Works range from pieces developed individually such Sarah Lee’s tactile three-dimensional clay ‘sketches’, inspired by the recent fire at the 16th-century Wythenshawe Hall, to collaborative works such as Yes Lad, Yes Lass (2016) by artists Barry Anthony Finan and Rosanne Robertson, a poignant mixed media video installation. This sculptural work represents the meeting of the two artists with their ambitions laid bare. Leslie Thompson, a prolific drawer, who at every opportunity is documenting his observations of events happening around him, in enormous detail using pen on paper, and in his recognisable witty style, to Horace Lindezey and Juliet Davis who have involved public participation in their practice throughout; in a series of interviews Lindezey has been engaging participants in conversation on their childhood memories whilst also building models of their schools as a tool for reminiscence.
On Tuesday 18 October (10am-4pm) OutsiderXchanges will host a Symposium: Collaboration in Practice at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art that will bring speakers from leading organisations across the UK together to share their experiences of collaboration in contemporary disability visual art practice. During the day they will also be interactive and multimedia presentations of the work by the 12 artists.
Speakers at the symposium include: Amanda Sutton, Director, Venture Arts, Manchester; Ruth Gould, Director, DadaFest International; Tanya-Raabe Webber, Artist; Sheryll Catto, Co-Director Action Space, London; Elisabeth Gibson, Executive Artistic Director, Project Ability, Glasgow; Shan Edwards, Chief Executive/Artistic Director, The Art House, Wakefield.
Also OutsiderXchanges takes over the Whitworth Thursday Late (Manchester) on the Thursday 3 November, from 6pm-9pm with their Studio Lab. Visitors will have the opportunity to view the work and meet the artists in an informal ‘Art Party’. Best party outfits recommended!
Finally OutsiderXchanges will be part of DadaFest 2016 in Liverpool from 17 November – 3 December 2016.