Outsider Art discussion


Che Guevara Pike Revolution 2010 by Andrew Pike

I had a conversation recently with a lady who works in a gallery where I was preparing a solo show for one of the artists I support, about using the term Outsider art in the press release. She proposed that including the term Outsider art, especially in the social media  advertisements for the exhibition would benefit sales. Her previous experience working in a Dublin based gallery confirmed this opinion for her, where she felt that due to the Television series about Outsider art on RTE she felt that buyers for Outsider art are more prevalent in Ireland than before the series aired.

I struggled with the suggestion of adding the categorisation of Outsider artist to the press release of any of the artists I work with but felt a sense of guilt that perhaps I was limiting their media coverage with my reticence. It has been my policy to focus on inclusive categorisations on press releases, such as painter, ceramicist, multi media artist etc as the art work speaks to its own inclusivity with the talent and ability it exudes.

“The magazine of Outsider Art, Raw Vision, published internationally, states: ‘The definition has become obscured by chronic misuse since its introduction in 1972. Outsider Arts should only apply to that rarity of art produced by those who do not know its name’ “(Irish Times 2001). It would seem that the attribution of the title should only be decided by those who do know what Outsider Art means, the educated, those who market said title, such as through sales of a magazine!

This debate was closed very succinctly for me, when I attended the (E)quality symposium in the National College of Art and Design in Dublin on 15.11.19, where I got to hear from an artist of twenty years and his colleague on what they thought of this discussion. Andrew Pike (professional artist) and Alice Bennett (Education Coordinator) from KCAT Arts Centre, County Kilkenny gave a joint presentation on their research into the term Outsider art. Alice Bennett gave the academic part of the presentation relating their joint research as co-researchers in a doctoral study in Maynooth University. Andrew presented his work, which spoke for itself as he has painted and created animations about subjects such as colonisation, international political relationships etc.  Alice related  how “Outsider art is inherently separatist” and in their symposium statement they went on to say that, “They consider that the existence of ‘Outsider art’ alienates and subjugates those who refuse to be categorised, those who live and work in marginal spaces. The current ideology in education is created by a western based culture where people without prowess in verbal literacy and those who are labelled as having intellectual disabilities are ‘othered’, separated and relegated to the outsider forums for learning and working”.

Andrew is a journeyman leading the way for those I support to follow; apart from being a co-researcher, giving first person experience to an often overtly theoretical academia, Andrew’s  portrait is included in the collection of the National self portrait collection of Ireland, University of Limerick. He was recently been honoured with an Honorary Fellowship from GMIT for his attribution to Irish Art. Andrew is leading the way through the doors of art establishments and education establishments there is nothing ‘Outsider’ about him.



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