Radical Craft: Alternative Ways of Making

Outside In National 2016 in collaboration with Craftspace

34 international and UK artists who express their creativity unbounded by taught conventions are showing work in Radical Craft: Alternative Ways of Making, a Craftspace and Outside In touring exhibition launching at Pallant House Gallery on 12th March 2016. The exhibition, which is co-curated by Laura Hamilton, will showcase artworks by historically renowned artists associated with Outsider Art and contemporary self-taught artists who see themselves as facing barriers to the art world for reasons including health, disability, social circumstance or isolation; 20 of whom have been selected from open submissions.

Eminent artist Alice Kettle, one of the selectors for the open UK call for artists says the exhibition “communicates the dynamic of living and making, of using transformative potential of craft to enter other visionary worlds…craft becomes a process of resistance and method of adaptation”

Themes in the exhibition include radical missions in which artists have a passion for a particular subject or technique; intuitive responses to textiles employed as a non-verbal means of engaging with the outside world; and autobiographical responses to the natural or urban environment – often depicted in a surreal manner. Each of the artists’ individual backgrounds and paths of creative development occupy a different world to our more typical perception of the artist or craftsman. Most have never received any formal art training, although their practices may have been nurtured and encouraged in specialist centres or studios. Their work or creative impulses have been developed with independence, perceptual senses and an obvious lack of inhibition which is rarely aimed at a particular audience or marketplace.

Xavier White’s (UK)‘Verrelic Spires’, a conceptual glass assemblage made following rehabilitation from brain injury, refers to Duchamp’s ‘Large Glass’ (1920), and merges two words verre and malic, symbolising bonding/possibilities of engagement/safety in numbers/something simultaneously tough and brittle. Mr X (UK) makes large scale cardboard structures and vehicles as a form of escape, survival and resistance to living in an institution. Pascal Tassini (Belgium) has a special interest in weddings and bridal attire producing a complete environment including a wedding tent, rings, love letters and elaborate Baroque-style headdresses. Beth Hopkins (UK) employs found objects, often washed up from the Thames, and parts of discarded electrical gadgets. She finds it “empowering to reduce items down to their components; taking back the power digital life has over us all.” Angus McPhee (Scotland) secretly wove numerous garments from grasses, vegetation and sheep’s wool picked from barbed wire fences found in the grounds of the hospital he lived in.

Other artists include: Dalton M Ghetti’s (USA) extreme miniature forms sculpted into discarded pencil leads; Michael Smith’s (UK) altered donated jeans, bound and wrapped with masking tape; Erkki Pekkarinen’s (Finland) folkloric lifesize woven birch bark figures; Nnena Kalu’s (UK) large evolving cocoon-like forms of paper, fabric and foam bound and wrapped with tape, yarn and cling-film; and Julia Krause-Harder’s (Germany) large mixed media dinosaurs.

The panel for the UK open selection included Alice Kettle, Textile Artist; Phil Baird, Artist and Outside In Award Winner; Laura Hamilton, Co-curator of Radical Craft; Katy Norris, Curator Pallant House Gallery and Deirdre Figueiredo, Director of Craftspace.

Tour venues include Oriel Davies and Aberystwyth Arts Centre in Wales, Tullie House Museum & Art Gallery, Carlisle and The Barony Centre, West Kilbride. The exhibition marks key anniversaries; 10 years of Outside In and 30 years of Craftspace.         

Outside In Award

Exhibiting invited artist Marie-Rose Lortet will choose one Award Winner from the selected works to receive a solo show at Pallant House Gallery at a later date. Lortet is often associated with the field of outsider art, and her signature lace objects and architectural constructions have been exhibited widely across Europe and are in the Collection de L'Art Brut in Lausanne, Switzerland, and will this year be shown at the Outsider Art Fair in New York for the first time. Lortet says: "I am proud and grateful to be chosen as the judge. I am excited to look attentively at the artists' creations and what the work reveals about their life. It will be a hard choice without a doubt." 

The exhibition will be accompanied by a series of events at Pallant House Gallery, which you can see by clicking here

Image: Willem van Genk, Untitled Toblerone Trolley, Image courtesy of Museum Dr Guislain, Ghent

Thanks to The Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation and Great British Sasakawa Foundation for supporting the inclusion of Japanese artists.

The Radical Craft tour will continue to:

  • Oriel Davies Gallery, Powys 25.06.16 – 29.08.16
  • Beecroft Art Gallery, Southend 10.09.16 – 5.11.16
  • 20-21 Visual Arts Centre, Scunthorpe 19.11.16 – 28.01.17 
  • Tullie House Museum & Art Gallery, Carlisle 11.02.17 – 26.03.17
  • The Barony Centre, West Kilbride 8.04.17 – 10.06.17 
  • Aberystwyth Arts Centre 24.06.17 – 2.09.17
  • Walford Mill, Dorset 16.09.17 – 12.11.17