Current Outside In Communications Coordinator, Sophie Buck, speaks to past Communications Coordinator, Kate Davey, who is organising the European Outsider Art Association Conference 2018 on behalf of Outside In. The conference will take place at Pallant House Gallery from 4-6th May 2018, with a VIP programme running from the 2nd-3rd May. Buy tickets here.
What is the European Outsider Art Association (EOA), and why are it and its annual conferences important?
The European Outsider Art Association was founded in 2009 following a year-long shared appeal to strengthen the voice of outsider art by improving intercultural cooperation and dialogue across European borders. The association operates as an umbrella organisation for all cultural workers devoted to the promotion of marginalised art in the European cultural sector. The conferences are a brilliant chance for individuals and organisations from all over Europe (and the world!) to get together to share current activity and best practice in the sector. The use of the term ‘outsider art’ differs greatly across Europe, so it is also important for us to get together and have discussions around the term and how we use it.
Who can attend the conference?
The conference is open to anyone interested in the arts, but it might be of particular interest to those working closely with artists. We really want to showcase and celebrate some of the amazing work happening in this sector in the UK, Europe and beyond, and this will be a great opportunity to see some best practice happening in relation to working with excluded or non-traditional artists. Not to mention there will be ample chance to meet colleagues with the same passions and interests!
Is this the first time the EOA has organised a conference in UK?
Yes, this is the first time the EOA has organised a conference in the UK! The previous conference, which took place in 2017, was in Randers, Denmark, and focused on outsider art photography. Other conferences have taken place in Paris, France; Sicily, Italy; Helsinki, Finland; Kattowice, Poland; Heidelberg, Germany; and Ghent, Belgium.
How brilliant that Outside In has the honour of hosting the UK’s first European Outsider Art Association conference here, at Pallant House Gallery in Chichester! How did this come about?
The Conference’s host organisations are decided upon by the European Outsider Art Association Committee. Outside In proposed to the Committee three years ago that it host the 2018 conference and was accepted. The Committee seeks to provide conferences that cover a wide range of themes and also work across Europe. Outside In Director Marc Steene is a committee member and Vice President of the Board of the European Outsider Art Association.
The theme for this year’s conference is ‘the Artist’s Voice’. Could you tell us about this and why it was chosen? Will artists have a greater presence at this conference to reflect the theme?
Each year the European Outsider Art Association conference focuses on a different theme. Previous themes have included curating outsider art, collecting outsider art, heterotopias, and outsider art photography. This year’s conference will be different because it’s really putting artists at the heart of the event.
To reflect the nature of what Outside In strives to do as an organisation, we are making sure that artists are part of the journey every step of the way. When deciding on final presentations from the proposals submitted to us through an open call out, we kept asking ourselves: ‘where is the artist’s voice in this?’ This has resulted in a really interesting programme featuring individuals and organisations who, like Outside In, really value the artist’s voice.
In addition to this, we are running an open call out for Outside In artists to speak at the conference – we have five slots available, and we will be commissioning one of our Step Up artists to run a creative workshop during the event. The conference will be running parallel to an exhibition at Pallant House Gallery that showcases the work of renowned outsider artist Scottie Wilson alongside a commissioned piece created by an Outside In artist in response to Wilson’s work.
What will be on offer at the conference?
The conference will be a real mixture of presentations, film screenings, panel discussions, creative workshops and Q&A sessions. There will be so many opportunities for delegates to find out about artists and organisations working in this area all over the globe. From artist collectives, to charities, to museums, to individual artists, there is going to be real diversity in what’s on offer. Creative workshops and tours will enable participants to find out more about Outside In’s innovative Step Up training programme, and there will be an opening event for an exhibition of work by Scottie Wilson alongside a commissioned piece of work by an Outside In artist in response to Wilson’s unique creations.
Who will be speaking at the conference?
Presenters at the conference will include Helen Roeten from the Living Museum in the Netherlands, artists Billy Weston and Sara Burgess (UK), artist Samaneh Atef in conversation with Oana Amaricai from the international outsider art festival Le Grand BAZ-ART, Director of the EOA Thomas Roeske, Nordic project Out by Art, Manchester-based Venture Arts, a film screening from dance organisation Look Kloser, and a music workshop from Joy of Sound.
We’re also holding two panel discussions during the conference. The first panel discussion focuses on supporting the artists voice; for this, we have invited Garvald Artists (Scotland), Headway East London (UK), Arts Project Australia (Australia), and Blue Circus – Autism Foundation Finland (Finland) to join the panel. The second discussion will centre on exhibiting the artist’s voice, and we will hear from Creahm/MadMusee (Belgium) and two artists from Carousel-led project Creative Minds (UK).
There is more information about who will be speaking on our website.
Are any of the speakers non-UK based?
Yes – many! We have speakers from all over Europe – France, Germany, Belgium, Sweden, the Netherlands – and further afield (like Australia)!
It’s exciting that Bobby Baker will be the keynote speaker at the conference. Can you tell us a bit about her work?
We’re so pleased that Bobby Baker will be delivering the key note speech on the Friday evening. Bobby is a British artist acclaimed for producing radical work across disciplines, including performance, drawing and multimedia. In a career spanning four decades she has, amongst other things, danced with meringue ladies; made a life-sized version of her family out of cake; and driven around the streets of London strapped to the back of a truck yelling at passers-by through a megaphone to ‘Pull Yourselves Together.’ Baker’s touring exhibition Diary Drawings: Mental Illness and Me 1997-2008 premiered at the Wellcome Collection in 2009, and the accompanying book of the same name won the Mind Book of the Year 2011. Her most recent live show, Mad Gyms & Kitchens, was commissioned as part of the London 2012 Unlimited project for the Cultural Olympiad.
There is more information about Bobby Baker on her website, the Daily Life Ltd: http://dailylifeltd.co.uk/bobby-baker/.
Can you explain what people get when they just buy a ticket to the opening event of the conference on Friday 4th May?
What does the VIP programme involve?
The VIP programme runs from the 2nd-3rd May and costs £75 (plus a booking fee) to join. It starts in London on 2nd May at Bethlem Museum of the Mind. There will be a tour of the museum and Bethlem Gallery, and lunch on site. We will then travel to Action Space’s North London studio for talks and presentations from artists and afternoon refreshments. On the evening of the 2nd May, there will be the chance to take in an exhibition of work by Outside In artists at a London gallery.
We’ll start Thursday 3rd May in Brighton by visiting Rory McCormack’s beach environment (as featured in Raw Vision Magazine), followed by a tour of the Haines Collection of Modern British and Outsider Art and a networking lunch. Finally, we’ll have a guided tour of Brighton’s renowned and unique Royal Pavilion, after which there will be the chance to explore Brighton’s cultural offerings.
The programme is a great chance to see first-hand the work that is happening in the UK, and as it is a more intimate group (approx. 25 people), there will be opportunities to share ideas with each other over lunch and refreshments across the two days.
Please note that the VIP Programme is now sold out.
So, for those that aren’t already convinced, why should people come to the conference?
The 2018 conference is a unique opportunity to hear from international individuals and organisations who are all passionate about engaging with artists and sharing their work and stories. There will be ample opportunity during break sessions to network with colleagues from all over the world, and many chances to talk with artists producing innovative and unique work. This will be the first time many of the speakers have presented in the UK, and it is a brilliant opportunity to find out more about organisations delivering work in this sector, both in this country and further afield.
How much are tickets? Can you explain the different options?
Tickets are £150 (plus a booking fee) for the 3-day conference, which starts on the evening of Friday 4th May and continues until Sunday 6th May.
In the days leading up to the conference, we have organised a VIP programme (£75) for those interested in finding out more about the outsider art world in the UK.
Delegates can also book for an intimate dinner (£25) at Pallant House Gallery on Friday 4th May, which will follow an exhibition opening for a display of work by renowned outsider artist Scottie Wilson.
Those wanting to just come and hear Bobby Baker’s keynote speech can book a ticket for the Friday evening for just £15.
The European Outsider Art Association Conference is being hosted in the UK for the first time this year by Outside In at Pallant House Gallery. This year’s theme is ‘the Artist’s Voice’, reflecting Outside In’s ethos to put our artists at the centre of the conversation. The conference runs from 4-6th May, with a VIP programme on the 2nd-3rd May. Tickets cost £150 for the weekend. There are also tickets available to just attend the Friday opening night for £15. Buy tickets here.
Header image credit: Laetitia Bica and Creahm Studio, who will be part of the second panel discussion.