Collecting Outside Art : A Discussion – #outsiderartdebate

The following is a film of a discussion on the subject of Collecting Outsider Art which took place at The Lightbox gallery in Woking on 14th November 2019.  Chaired by Outside In Director Marc Steene, the talk was programmed to accompany the exhibition ‘The Outside and the Inside’ curated by Marc. The exhibition featured works by artists including Scottie Wilson, Madge Gill, Wilhelm Werner and Billy Childish and several Outside In artists. The exhibition drew from The Ingram Collection and the Outside In collection  and explored connections between the artistic process, its source of inspiration and the experience of the artists’ inner and outer worlds. The talk was set up to explore the issues and challenges of collecting outsider or non-traditional art, both practically and ethically and including the international context, with panellists Thomas Röeske, Director of the Prinzhorn Collection, Charles Rolls, Outside in Chairman and art collector and Peter Hall, Exhibitions Manager at The Lightbox.  You can watch the full film here:

The talk also explores the term ‘outsider art’ itself, what it means to the panellists and audience members present, how it was derived in the first place and has been used  within different art historical and international contexts. Is the category problematic? How can the work of such a diverse group of artists and creatives be grouped together?  Does outside imply an insider hierarchy or does it designate a safe place of self-expression where many artists would happily choose to be? We will be further exploring the term with written contributions from various perspectives and illustrative works and would like to know how you feel about the term.  We will be using the hashtag #outsiderartdebate and would welcome contributions, thoughts and to hear your point of view. You can also get in touch with Matt at  Outside In at  if you would like to contribute either written content, art works or just an opinion. Please watch this space and keep tabs on our social media for further related posts …  

1 Comment about this

  1. richard downes

    I want to be an outsider/an outsider artist. Its not about having a safe place to express myself from. It’s where society has allowed me to be. For me health was the starting point. I could have gone Outside to Switzerland if my working class family could afford it. They couldn’t. So health meets class and i’m institutionalised in a place not too far from home but everything was so much slower then so had distance to the pot and exclusion is building.
    From a special school window, burning fields and distant black hills. An internal desire to be even further out of it. Away from home, institution, growing ideas of elite communities, friendship groups or more separation.
    The swinging 60’s they say happened for 200 people in London. Papers reporting on this would blow under our fences or be found stranded in our lane. Aspects of the inner world coming from the inside outside. But could i grow my hair with barber nights on thursdays. No but i could cling to a vision of drugs making me feel free some day some distance away.
    So my inside on the inside with its constant rulings, regulations and punishment schedules painted its own pictures of inside life and i didn’t want it. Close down close down build walls build walls lose the power to speak, gain numbness, no thoughts, anxieties and what nots. The future will be still.
    But of cause it grabs ya. It takes you like meat into the sausage makerand no one asks ya if you want to be there, only whose or what side you gonna be on. I was always suspicious. And they’re still asking today. Assume modern vocabularies. Integration, Assimilation. What in a society that never wants me. Inclusion indicates a choice, a preference. Mines to stay outside.

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