On Wednesday 30th March, the Outside In team took a trip to Manchester to visit the new ‘Inside Out’ exhibition at Castlefield Gallery. The exhibition has been curated by the Gallery in collaboration with artist, academic and writer David Maclagan, and includes work by artists from the UK, South Africa, France, Iran and the USA. Some of these artists for a variety of reasons are thought to be ‘Outsider’ artists, whilst other artists in the exhibition may seem to share methods of approaching their subject matter with this now established part of artistic study. In this post, Outside In Communications Officer Kate Davey tells us about the show.
“The Castlefield Gallery is a really bright, open space in the centre of Manchester, running an exhibition programme that predominantly supports and promotes work by emerging contemporary artists and nurtures their artistic development through a mixture of mentoring and an ‘associates’ scheme.
We were met by Matthew Pendergast, the Programme Manager, who talked us through the exhibition. It arose after he met David Maclagan a couple of years ago. Maclagan; an art therapist as well as an artist and writer, has an extensive knowledge and interest in ‘outsider’ art and automatic or ‘doodle’ drawing. After deciding to proceed with the idea of an exhibition featuring work by artists who create from within, Castlefield Gallery and Maclagan selected artists they thought would illustrate this idea – whether they were considered ‘outsider’ or not.
Maclagan says of the title of the show, and the exhibition itself: ‘The artists selected all work from what is often called an ‘inner world’: their art can be seen as some kind of translation, each in their individual idiom, of elements derived from memory, fantasy or ‘the unconscious,’ rather than a depiction of external reality. The term [inside out] also resonates with the image of some kind of reversal of the expected order, so that things that are usually hidden are brought into view, in ways that may not always be comfortable.’
We were pleased to see work by some familiar faces: Carlo Keshishian’s ‘A Void II’ covered the whole of one wall, made up as it is from several individual canvas blocks, and Mehrdad Rashidi’s amplified doodles were represented in larger-scale, framed form, as well as smaller, ephemera form. Rashidi has recently grown in prominence as an artist, having won the prestigious Grand Prix for Marginal Art at the 16th Biennial of Naive and Marginal Art in Belgrade, and having work included in prestigious collections around the world.
Maclagan also had his own art work on display in the exhibition. He has worked exclusively for the past twenty years in oil stick on drafting film in the same A1 format. He creates quickly, usually working on each piece in one single session. Three of his pieces were lit from behind, highlighting the bright, vibrant colours of the oil sticks.
Darren Brian Adcock’s work was something that surprised us all. Adcock, a Manchester local, finds the process of drawing therapeutic. His more recent drawings – of which a selection are included in the exhibition – have the addition of extra detail and narrative in the form of hidden UV ink, revealed only when highlighted with a UV light. Framed and wired himself, the works are already significantly detailed, but when they are hovered over with a UV light, new characters, cities and worlds come to life. In one of his larger pieces, a metal sensor is activated when it meets UV light, controlling a speaker that sounds sinister and imposing music.
It was also good to see the work of Nick Blinko represented in the exhibition; particularly the inclusion of a newer drawing that was so intricately detailed that looking at it with a microscope is preferable. Blinko, a self-taught artist, musician and writer, has gained quite a reputation in the art world, with his work being shown in exhibitions internationally. In his dark pen and ink works, a preoccupation with death and the darker side of Christianity are recognisable themes.
Other artists included in the exhibition are Peter Darach, a Royal College of Art graduate; Andrea Joyce Heimer, a self-taught artist who lives and works in Washington State; Joel Lorand; Richard Nie; Mit Senoj; Marlene Steyn; and recent graduate Jenna Kayleigh Wilkinson.
The artists – and the works – in the exhibition are wildly diverse; not only in their backgrounds and training, but in their materials and techniques. Despite these diversities, they all have one thing in common: their desire to produce worlds and narratives that come from within. As Maclagan puts it: “The work in this show has a density of execution that makes looking at it hard work, and it may take you into some strange places.” One thing is for sure, it is great to see a contemporary art gallery displaying the work of artists who might be considered ‘outsider’ alongside contemporary and emerging artists as part of their prestigious exhibition programme.”
‘Inside Out’ continues at Castlefield Gallery, Manchester, until 24 April 2016.