Radical Craft: Alternative Ways of Making - Outsider Art at Chichester's Pallant House Gallery

| 16 February 2016

A selection of images from Pallant House Gallery in Chichester - a home for outsider art and works by artists facing barriers to the art world

Radical Craft: Alternative Ways of Making features artists whose works are well documented and displayed by galleries and museums together with with artworks by emerging artists.

All of the artists create work that is the tangible result of another’s understanding of the world. Theirs are voices that are often not listened to.


a photo of a group of woven doll like figures
Aradne, The Gathering© Aradne
Aradne uses machine embroidery to work directly onto muslin, nylon or dissolvable fabric. Her web-like images convey an imaginary world populated by animals, figures and insects, sometimes incorporating text and memories of her childhood.

The Gathering is inspired by a quote by Jean Jacques Rousseau: "Man is born free but everywhere he is in chains". It illustrates her concept that we are all trapped and linked together in a crowd: an entanglement of joy and pain.

Dalton Ghetti

a photo of a large carved pencil with a heart shaped hole carved inside it with a small heart pendulum hanging inside
Dalton Ghetti, Hanging Heart © Dalton Ghetti
Brazilian-born Dalton M Ghetti is a carpenter and house re-modeller. He has no formal art training and began handling tools at the age of six, when he used razor blades and penknives to sharpen pencils. He began sculpting forms on discarded pencils in 1986 as a challenge to himself to create the smallest possible carvings that he could see with the naked eye.

Most of his carvings are made with a sewing needle or v-shaped, triangular metal blade. Because of the intensity of the work, he only sculpts for a maximum of two hours each day. Each piece can take up to a year to complete.

Angus McPhee (1916 – 1997)

a photo of two woven shoes
Joanne B Kaar, Grass Boot Replicas© Joanne B Kaar
Raised in Eochar on South Uist, in the Outer Hebrides, like many members of crofting families Angus McPhee created horses’ bridles from rope made from local grasses. During the war, he served in the army on the Faroe Islands. But his behaviour saw him return to his family on Uist.

He was eventually admitted to the Craig Dunain psychiatric hospital near Inverness where, in 1946, he was diagnosed with schizophrenia.

While there he secretly wove numerous garments – vests, jackets, hats, shoes, socks – from grasses and other vegetation found in the grounds, and sheep’s wool picked from barbed wire fences. McPhee chose to remain mute for 50 years and his work was hidden in bushes and the undergrowth. It was not fully appreciated until it was discovered in 1977 by visiting art therapist, Joyce Laing.

Although McPhee’s work has been exhibited widely and has been the subject of a book, film and play, it is now too fragile to tour. It is represented at Pallant by replicas commissioned from Scottish weaver, Joanne B Kaar.

Willem Van Genk (1927 – 2005)

a photo of a model tram made from recycled materials
Willem Van Genk, Presikhaaf,© Museum Dr Guislan, Gent
Growing up in Voorburg, Netherlands, Van Genk experienced a difficult childhood, plagued by health and behavioural issues. He started to draw both at home and at school as a means of escape. On reaching adolescence, he was placed in an orphanage and then in a Christian school for Arts & Crafts, where he took courses in commercial art.

Unable to adapt to the conventional world, he was eventually accepted by a workshop for people facing mental health challenges in The Hague. He stopped painting in 1988 and turned exclusively to making models of trams and buses, constructed from a variety of recycled materials.

Roland Kappel

a photo of a toy crane made from scrap metal
Roland Kappel, FUX 103B© Roland Kappel
German Kappel grew up in an orphanage and enrolled in a special primary school in Mariaberg in 1956. He began making constructions from scrap metal at an early age and, having a flair for art, completed a painter’s apprenticeship.

His true passion is machinery used in the construction industry- diggers, cranes, bulldozers - and he is constantly visiting building sites for inspiration.

His models utilise discarded parts from calculators and computer boards as well as scrap metal, which he fixes to together with a special spot-welding technique. Each piece sports on one side, the painted label: RK Building Mission.

Affiliated to Atelier 5 in Mariaberg, in 2016 his work was the subject of a book and is regularly exhibited internationally.

Julia Krause-Harder

a photo of a stegosaurus made out of small pieces of scrap metal
Julia Krause-Harder, Stegosaurus© Julia Krause-Harder
Krause-Harder is autistic and obsessed with dinosaurs. She has made it her life’s mission to create reproductions of every type which ever existed.

Her work ranges in scale, from 34cm in length to constructions more than four metres long and three metres high. Favoured materials include cable-clips, office supplies, metal framing for shelves and assorted fabrics, which she hand and machine sews.

She has been a member of Atelier Goldstein in Frankfurt, a centre providing studio space and assistance to 15 outsider artists, since 2005 and has exhibited in Frankfurt and Paris. She is also a Fellow of La Forge Frugula, an artist residency programme based in Cordoba, Spain.

Erkki Pekkarinen (born 1936)

a photo of man walking down a deserted road wearing a suit made out of woven beach bark
Erkki Pekkarinen, Photographs of the artist wearing woven birch bark suit© Courtesy Veli Grano
Born in 1936, Finnish artist Pekkarinen follows the Finnish Folk Art tradition of utilising birch bark (a highly versatile and water-resistant material) to create sculptural forms and clothing. By bending, weaving and plaiting the birch bark, he has produced the largest and smallest shoes in Finland: 2.7m and 3.8mm respectively.

His Forest Folk, dressed in national costume and similar to Walter & Rose (now held in the collections of ITE, Helsinki), was used as the emblem of the 2001 ITE exhibition at Meilahti Art Museum. Pekkarinen makes regular appearances in public wearing a suit, shoes and Stetson all fashioned from woven birch bark.

Shinichi Sawada

a photo of a brown totem-like figure with shell adornments, claws and two faces
Shinichi Sawada, Untitled© Shinichi Sawada
Sawada was born in Shiga Prefecture, Japan. After completing several years of study in a special school, he entered an institution in Kusatu city where, diagnosed as autistic, he found employment in the hospital bakery. He later attended a workshop where he began working in clay.

In 2001, the professor in charge of the workshop constructed a small potter’s studio from sheet metal in a wild landscape a few kilometres from the institution. It is here that Sawada creates his fantastical creatures in clay.

Pascal Tassini

a photo of a chair wrapped in cloths and rags
Pascal Tassini, Textile Wrapped Church Chair© Pascal Tassini
Tassini has Down's syndrome and did not attend school. His brother, who became his guardian after the death of their parents, enrolled Pascal in day classes at the Creahm day centre in Leige, where he embraced opportunities to create art. He worked mainly in clay before switching to textiles 10 years ago.

Pascal alternates between wrapping objects, such as chairs and small sculptural forms, with tangled and tied clothes and creating costumes. He has a special interest in weddings and bridal attire and, in addition to a highly decorated wedding tent complete with rings and love letters, has produced a series of elaborate Baroque-style headdresses.

Tassini’s work is in great demand and has been exhibited in Japan, Australia and the Christian Berst Gallery, Paris. He had a solo show in Lausanne earlier this year.

Joanna Simpson

a photo of a group of small figures made from seeds
Joanna Simpson, Good Nut Gum Folk© Joanna Simpson
Simpson’s practice focuses on Good Luck Gum Nut Folk: miniature figures made from eucalyptus seeds and found objects. She clusters these forms together in different formats to explore concepts of individuality within a group and notions about autonomy and belonging; inclusion and exclusion.

Michael Smith

a photo of two pairs of jeans wrapped in masking tape
Michael Smith, Jeans © Michael Smith
Smith is affiliated to Barrington Farm in Norfolk, a unique independent day services centre for adults with learning difficulties based at Walcott on the beautiful North Norfolk coast.

He likes painting, sewing and drawing cowboys, horses and other animals. He particularly enjoys physical work and “being resourceful with things.”

Terence Wilde

A photo of four abstract ceramic figures
Terence Wilde, Embodiments. Ceramic© Terence Wilde
Wilde has regularly exhibited his intricate drawings. His graphic skills are apparent in the decoration of these figures constructed from hollowed out, random, ceramic shapes. The naïve style and character of this work is inspired partly by his fascination for folklore and partly by his imagination.

  • Radical Craft: Alternative Ways of Making at Pallant House Gallery, Chichester from March 12 until June 12 2016.

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