INSIDEOUT ART and The Wednesday Mentoring Group
I enter as father and celebrator.
Celebrator of all things Project Artworks.
The Pull Of The Sea
My daughter Eden attends the Wednesday Mentoring Group. An art group that meet each Wednesday inside a converted railway arch in downtown Hastings. She is in good company; Albert, Charlie, Michelle, Neville, Jonathan and John are all busy with their busyness.
They are artists and under the tutorship of Tony Colley and the watchful eye of Paul Lucas they make art. Sometimes it is very good art and sometimes it is just art. But it is not the art of glamour hungry merchandise-makers or the look-at-me-and-my-clever-thinking minimalists, it is Outsider Art and they are making their art outside of the Art System, they are not Insider Artists, but the system needs these artists, they are the new wave of InsideOut Artists.
Edgelands and Hinterlands
Jean Dubuffet saw an honesty and integrity to the work that he found within Art Brut that was lacking in the Art World of the 20th Century. He regarded these practitioners as Raw Visionists. There was a purity and veracity to the work that they were making and this is something that hits me the moment I walk into the studio.
Ironically, because of my art school training it is hard not to contextualise what is going on without referencing Insider Artists.
Biscuits and Cake
Michelle is in the corner lost to one of her intricately choreographed canvas drawings, buzzing like the paintings of Friedensreich Hundertwasser. John Croft is at work on one of his Warholesque portraits, all popular culture and gorgeous colour. Over there with a biscuit in his pocket and another on his mind is Jonathan Rodgers; he attacks a new painting with a verve which is part William Turner part William Tell, meanwhile Neville is intermittently and meticulously colouring in a gorilla, which reminds me of Paul Noble’s enormous and fastidious pencil drawings. Albert is the oldest artist, now in his seventies, an enigma, head down at his table applying pastels that evoke the strange marriage of Paul Klee and Howard Hodgkins, meanwhile in between bouts of chatter, Charlie concentrates on skaters on a pond, Peter Doig comes to mind but her works are unsure of themselves and occasionally she lets rip a Jackson Pollock.
And then there is Eden, my daughter Eden.
For As Long As It Takes
We have been making art together for as long as I can remember. She is unfathomable and complicated, repetitive and compulsive and the work she creates might be seen as an extension of her mind’s eye. Her psyche a strange sing-song geography. We have made ‘Still Life’ works for many years and she is an intuitive and sophisticated mark-maker. Her drawings bring me great pleasure; Cy Twombly, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Joseph Beuys have all barked up the same tree. Eden is happy, happy, happy.
But this is not just about Eden, this is about the celebration of difference, of other ways of being, of other ways of thinking. This is about an impressive group of art makers. What the Wednesday Mentoring Group gives Eden and all of its’ artists, is an atmosphere of purpose and industry, a place of focus and camaraderie. Eden has flourished as she has become more confident about applying paint, about depth of field and composition and of other people’s artistic endeavours.
Under the considered guidance of Tony and Paul, and the carefully organised environment the studio hums with the noise of joyful creativity. More often than not it is informed by a soundtrack of classical music. Perhaps a smidgeon of Joni Mitchell or Joan Biaz is smuggled into the arena, but there is no room for pop, no Bob Marley, no Elvis and definitely no Abba, much to the chagrin of Charlie, Eden and the popular culturalist, John.
This is a place of industry and contemplation, a meditative hive of activity. And the fact that the work is produced with little or no art historical knowledge makes it that much more refreshing and compelling. It seems to come about because the artists need to make work. They can’t not make work. This is what they do, this is what brings them together. And the act of coaxing into form the disparate and unknowable is consistently supported by the thing that is Project Artworks. It is a vital and rigorous and potent thing.
In all of these extraordinary works it is the trace of the makers personality that most excites me. So bear in mind that every Wednesday inside a converted railway arch in downtown Hastings brilliant Insideout Art is being made.
I’m going to end with a question.
We Aren’t, We Are and then We’re Not,
Out of the artist’s mind through the point of a pencil or a pen comes proof that the world is solid, material.
‘Art does not lie down on the bed that is made for
it but runs away as soon as one says its name: it loves to be incognito.
Its best moments are when it forgets what it is called’.
Andrew Kötting – French Pyrenees – Summer 2011