Bold Vision: Pallant House and Julian Hartnoll Gallery admire Outsiders in Black and White

By Ben Miller | 10 July 2013

Exhibition preview: Bold Vision: Outsiders in Black and White, Julian Hartnoll Gallery, London, until July 14 2013

A photo of a black and white piece of art showing screaming skulls
Scream. Stitch© Aradne
Eclectic and compulsive, the 12 little-known artists taking part in this group show, which contains fine draughtsmanship, Goya-style drawings and calendar savants among its joys, confess to committing art to canvas for varying reasons.

Aradne’s embroidery, to name one, results in figures, birds, insects, flowers and texts within web-like structures. Valerie Potter uses similar techniques, but says their pivotal role is in maintaining her sanity.

Seven of the participants are part of Outside In, an initiative set up by Chichester’s Pallant House in 2006, intent on offering a platform for artists who might find it difficult to reach the art world – some have disabilities or health issues, others face unusual social situations.

Kate Bradbury’s move into black and white began when she found rolls of Chinese paper and a well of black ink in a run-down house in London. Co-curator Vivienne Roberts says her work is a “delight” to admire.

“It is hard to pick out just one artist,” she ponders.

“They are all outstanding in my eyes, but if pressed I’d have to say Kate.

“Her work always amazes me. I love watching the reactions of other viewers as they see more and more in her intricate and delicate drawings.

“Her talent is diverse in both two-dimensional and three-dimensional art works, but her black and white drawings, with their musical vibrations, epitomise her talent.”

Roberts credits the “hard work and vision” of Outside In for allowing her to discover Bradbury’s skill.

Some of her fellow artists will follow the concept’s touring plans. Nigel Kingsbury, who uses his fascination with depicting female forms to defy gender stereotypes, will have a solo exhibition at the Sussex gallery next year.

Another exhibitor, Albert, says his pen and ink resurrections of buildings are a meditative release from hospital mundanity.

“I start with a vision in my mind,” he reflects.

“It blossoms from there. I imagine the building being constructed in brick and brought to life.”

Bradbury is one of several artists consumed by repetition. Nick Blinko’s detailed faces, figures and patterns build a sense of anxiety and exorcism, and George Widener’s dates and imagery, embedded in a “lightning calendar calculator”, make for mixed media work, often on found paper or layers of tea-stained napkins.

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