In Focus: Joel Howie

Interview with artist and 2007 Award Winner Joel Howie

Later this year, A Celebration of 10 Years of Outside In will showcase a decade of Outside In Award Winners. Ahead of the exhibition we sat down with Joel Howie, artist and Outside In 2007 Award Winner to talk about his art practice. As Joel has communication difficulties, his PA has interpreted the responses.

What was the experience of winning the award like for you?

Winning the award in 2007 was great. It set me up with a year-long residency at Pallant House Gallery ending with a solo exhibition. I spent a lot of time drawing the interiors of the gallery and the people in them. I created a huge oil painting which captured the moment the trees were being planted in the courtyard.

Describe your creative practice

I mainly sketch with pencil, and sometimes with charcoal. I will often start an oil painting as a charcoal drawing and then layer the paint over the top. Sometimes I can work in a studio that was built in my garden, this was built using funds from the Arts Council, that were granted receiving support for the grant from Pallant House Gallery.  I often used to work on a large scale, but it is more convenient due to my health issues to work on a smaller scale now.  I am a member of the Partners in Art Scheme at Pallant House Gallery and I have worked with my partner Barbara MacFarlane for around six years. With the support of my PA we are able to meet and paint together, usually at Barbara’s studio as she has more room!

With Disability Awareness Day approaching, would you mind telling us about how your disability has informed your creative practice?

I had a stroke when I was 14 which means I have very little movement in my right arm and hand. I had to take up all my activity with my left hand from then on. At first I started drawing as a means of communication as I wasn’t able to talk. I found I enjoyed drawing and studied art at GCSE and BTEC level with the local authority providing one-to-one support.  I went on to do a BA in Fine Art at Portsmouth University with the disabled students grant, again providing one-to-one support. I draw and paint with my left hand. I require dialysis three times a week, and sometimes I can draw when in hospital.


How has Outside In impacted your life as an artist?

Pallant House Gallery and Outside In have given me great opportunities. I met Barbara through the Partners in Art programme and I got to exhibit at the Gallery. The support from Pallant House Gallery enabled me to obtain the Arts Council grant to build a small studio, which was fantastic as my health issues meant that for several years I had not been able to access the studio I used to use in Portsmouth, so had been unable to paint for a few years. I am looking forward to having a piece of artwork in the 10 Year anniversary exhibition.

A Celebration of 10 Years of Outside In will be at Pallant House Gallery 1 September - 30 October 2016.