Outside In 2007, Pallant House Gallery Magazine

There are a large number of people in our community who create art. Some attend art classes, others attend local art groups and others still, practice as amateur or professional artists. Some individuals make a living from selling their artwork, others simply take opportunities to share and talk about what they create. Yet however these individuals make art, they all can (and often do) participate in the creative life of their local community.

In contrast to this discernible group of artists, there are many others working within our society who do not have such easy access to their local communities and are far less visible. This group of individuals attend day centres, reside in hospitals or live isolated within our communities. These are the artists who are commonly found working in isolation, often with a disability and/or mental health problems, and despite the often highly personal and idiosyncratic characteristics of their artwork, rarely receive any recognition, with little or no dialogue or interest surrounding the subject, suffering, as it all too often does, under the misrepresentation of being either childish or strange.

When thinking about how to make a museum or gallery accessible, providing physical access, through ramps for wheelchair users, or producing large text labels or audio guides, only addresses a few of the physical and intellectual barriers disabled and marginalised individuals might face.  Providing access to opportunity and personal development is far harder to achieve, and the new exhibition and arts prize called OUTSIDE IN is a move towards providing this at the Gallery.

Building on the already impressive outreach and community work carried out by the Gallery, including the recently commended Partners in Art scheme and the Hans Feibusch Club, OUTSIDE IN will offer a new opportunity for Outsider and marginalised artists to access the collections and exhibitions at the Gallery, highlighting this often neglected group and welcoming another new audience to Pallant House Gallery.

Ultimately, the OUTSIDE IN arts prize aims to offer Outsider and marginalised artists a unique opportunity to have their work shown in a gallery with the further opportunity of winning an award that includes either a residency or solo exhibition at Pallant House Gallery.

In it’s first year, the initiative is open to those who live in Sussex, with plans to grow across the South region and eventually nationwide within five years so that OUTSIDE IN becomes a landmark art event, hosting exhibitions, conferences and events.

Image: John Cull