Thursday, 6 February 2020



Other Transmissions: Conversations with Outsider Art
Preview | Thursday 13 February 2020, 6-8pm
Exhibition dates | 14 February – 14 June 2020
Venue | The Whitworth

This exhibition brings together the work of six artists – Joe Beedles, James Desser, Amy Ellison, Frances Heap, Andrew Johnstone and John Powell-Jones, initially responding to The Musgrave Kinley Outsider Art Collection (MKOAC), housed at the Whitworth. The MKOAC is the largest collection of ‘Outsider Art’ in a public gallery in the UK and features work by artists who are self-taught and have been historically marginalised from the art world. This year-long residency project was led by Venture Arts in collaboration with the Whitworth and Castlefield Gallery. Elements of the work and new pieces by Blackpool artists, will go on display at Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool (7-21 March 2020).

During the residency, a group of learning disabled and non-learning disabled artists came together, on equal terms, to explore the themes of ‘Outsider Art’: labelling, categorisation and art world power dynamics. The artists spent time with the MKOAC, researching collection pieces and having conversations on how artists are labelled, and how this can sometimes define their work and themselves as ‘different’. They spent three months in a shared studio space at Venture Arts producing diverse pieces of work spanning sound, film, live art, digital artwork, drawings and sculpture, as well as costume.

The artists selected artworks from the MKOAC, which they co-curated into a display alongside their own work. Collection artists featured include Madge Gill, Albert Louden and Michel Nedjar. The exhibition has originated from a 2018-19 project, Conversation Series II, which was a project led by Venture Arts in partnership with the Whitworth and Castlefield Gallery. Conversation Series II was the second part of a four-part programme, conceived by Venture Arts, and a wider network of national organisations including Castlefield Gallery. Castlefield Gallery’s role throughout the Conversations Series has been to act as a critical friend, and they provided the artists with mentoring to encourage reflection at key stages. The programme extends across multiple years, curated as a discursive and art making journey designed to enable and empower learning disabled artists.

As Extinction Rebellion and others become criminalised and under increased police surveillance, quick-thinking artists and activists are foiling the tools of the state! Here's an extract from an article in the Observer recently. Click on the photograph by Cocoa Laney below to read the whole thing.

"Wearing makeup has long been seen as an act of defiance, from teenagers to New Romantics. Now that defiance has taken on a harder edge, as growing numbers of people use it to try to trick facial recognition systems.

Interest in so-called dazzle camouflage appears to have grown substantially since the Metropolitan police announced last week that officers will be using live facial recognition cameras on London’s streets – a move described by privacy campaigners and political activists as “dangerous”, “oppressive” and “a huge threat to human rights”.

Unlike fingerprinting and DNA testing, there are few restrictions on how police can use the new technology. And some of those who are concerned have decided to assert their right not to be put under surveillance with the perhaps unlikely weapon of makeup. Members of the Dazzle Club have been conducting silent walks through London while wearing asymmetric makeup in patterns intended to prevent their faces from being matched on any database."

Culture, Health & Wellbeing Alliance 2020 Awards

We are excited to announce our first ever annual awards for the CHWA 2020 Conference taking place in Derby on 19-20th March 2020. Working with our award partners, we aim to showcase good practice and people who are leading the way in creating a culture of care for each other, their communities and the world. The award categories are linked to the core themes of the conference: climate change, partnerships (caring economies) and practitioner wellbeing. The three awards are:

. Collective Power Award 
. The Practising Well Award
. Climate Award

Submission deadline is 5pm, Friday 21st February 2020 and all details can be found by clicking HERE.

Picture books on prescription
A nice little article in the Guardian this week highlighted the place of fiction in the lives of younger people - emphasising the role that stories in all their forms - can play in understanding and maybe addressing a broad range of mental health issues. There's a sad and lovely quote from Michael Rosen whose own book depicts his grief at the death of his son Eddie from meningitis at the age of 18.

“These books will start conversations with children about how they’re feeling and show them that others have felt the same way,” he says. “Public libraries have long been places where people have sought answers and comfort; this scheme combines the safe space of the library with inspiring children and families to read for pleasure and wellbeing.”

Read the whole article by clicking HERE.

3–22 March

If They Spend the Time to Get to Know Me is an interactive installation from artist Vic McEwan focusing on facial nerve paralysis. These conditions can affect facial expression, speech and vision and they can significantly change a person’s appearance. This means that people experiencing facial nerve paralysis often face stigma and discrimination. McEwan explores these experiences through an audio-visual installation. 3D scanning and printing will allow visitors to interact and contribute to the project by adding their own face. The project has been developed by McEwan in creative partnership with healthcare professionals and patients from the Sydney Facial Nerve Clinic, Australia. It is a first stage outcome as part of McEwan's Practice Led PHD at the University of Sydney. Click on the image below for more details. 

A BREATH OF FRESH AIR (or, footnote #5)
In the face of unbridled hysteria at my local Boots - as large numbers of masked university students run around purchasing every hand sanitising product - I cart my carry-out of toxic medicines back home to dutifully down the things that while keeping the hitcher in order, may just in fact hamper my own immunity. I wonder to myself, how effective really, are those face masks? They look pretty flimsy - but along with the sanitiser, I supposed it provides a sense of control. 

My stomach gurgles.

So in the calm before the burgeoning corona storm, I take time out and visit Tate Liverpool. Wrapped up, medicated and aroused by the promise of spring, it's a real treat to be outside the world of clinics and patient-hood.

Tate is always a pleasure and before I dive into the Theaster Gates show, I pop into the free exhibition of work from its collection. I like this space and there are always surprises in store. It's a quiet weekday morning and with the exception of one or two people are taking selfies, it's a lovely calming place to be. As I walk in, directly in front of me is a large mirrored box/slab of some kind, with a few apertures cut into it. A shiny thing. On the other side of it and invisible to me, there are a small group of people studying the work (sorry I don't know the artist), and from my side I stoop down to have a peek through one of the holes in the glass. It's quite a pretty, instagram-able thing and as my eyes search through its refractions and shadows, I see that another face is looking back at me from the other side. Well - I see two smiling eyes peering at me from behind a face mask. Then it happened, as I peered at this happy little face, my body involuntarily succumbed to one of the less sinister side effects of 21st century medicine - the longest and most gloriously rude - but thankfully non-fragrant - fart!

To say that I am rather retentive and hung up, would be a gross understatement, but rather oddly - I felt a mischievous liberation - and for some extended moments, stood paralysed and smiling at the horrified masked young thing, for an unbearable amount of time. 'Then, like all dreamers, I was possessed of a sudden with supernatural powers and passed like a spirit through the barrier before me.'

When I returned from this fleeting reverie (or was it a rapture?) I straightened myself up, stretched and turned around to face the near hush of the gallery and the wide eyed horror of its assistants and now multiple static masked visitors, who all seemingly had their eyes and ears trained on my delicate rump and its harmonic distortion. Giggling like some solvent addled schoolboy, I teetered off to the next gallery space to compose myself.

Clinging on to the first vitrine that I saw in an attempt to control myself anally and acoustically, I tempered my giddiness until, with a slow and marvellous dawning, I saw the art work sitting squatly in this little plexiglass display! Piero Manzoni! Piero Manzoni's very own 1961 tinned Merde d'Artiste! Künstlerscheisse! Dear old Manzoni and Arte Povera - well not so old - poor Manzoni died 57 years ago today at the tragically young age of 29.

I was done for. Like a bleary eyed tittering loon, I fled the gallery in a fit of pique, a final uncontrollable bat squeak of pleasure and social pain signalling my departure and the unexpected joy in such a memento mori.

To useless face masks, hand sanitiser, art and to unexpected pleasures...

No comments:

Post a Comment