So, this January marks the first birthday of KDoutsiderart – an endeavour I originally began as a productive distraction from MA term paper writing and a way to reconnect with my love of outsider art that I seemed to have forgotten amidst writing papers on the more mainstream variety of art. I did not expect to still be blogging in a year’s time, and I certainly did not expect to find a whole world of outsider-art-enthusiasts out there. Talking to people (most commonly friends and family) about the blog in its first stages of production seemed to elicit the same response many times over; ‘is there that much to say about outsider art?’ I started to wonder how long I could write about this topic for – would anyone be interested? Did I know enough about it? Of course, I have since found out that many, many people are interested and outsider art is a topic that one doesn’t ‘need to know a lot about’ to ‘get.’
I thought I would share these initial thoughts with you, and also note some of the things that the blog itself has taught me since its inception in January 2012.
Where did the blog come from?
The blog-idea initially surfaced after I had taken my dog for a walk in nearby woodland. During the walk, I had come across an open-air, unmanned art exhibition. I found works leaning against trees and hanging from branches and one thought crossed my mind – I had to show this earthly production to people. It was fantastic to see works in such an environment and it was even more fantastic in September when, via the blog, I found one of the artists who had taken part in the exhibition. The outdoor display had been a part of an MA dissertation called ‘An Unplugged Moment’ in which works were placed in the woods as a way to take art back to nature. My commitment to the blog peaked in summer 2012 when I began working with a couple of organisations aiming to promote and provide a platform for artists facing barriers to the art world.
What has the blog taught you?
If you follow KDoutsiderart, you may have noticed that there are a lot of posts on my changing opinion on the world of outsider art and indeed the term ‘outsider’ itself (here, here, here, here and here). As part of my MA last year, I wrote my dissertation on the difficulties facing curators of outsider art, and the research I did for this kept bringing up new thought processes and angles surrounding the topic. One thing I perhaps would have changed after this research is the name KDoutsiderart. The term itself is becoming more and more outdated and pigeon-holey. The thing I perhaps enjoy the most about outsider art is that it cannot be pigeonholed; therefore, in essence, it does not need a name.
Where do you stand on the subject now?
Speaking now, in January 2013, although I still struggle to put it coherently into words, I think I can finally explain why I am so interested in this form of art. For me, much of the mainstream art world is based on business, money and commodity. Money is of course a necessity for anyone pursuing a career as an artist, but these are all words that, for me, damage what art should be. Outsider art has not developed out of previous art movements, and it has no distinctive formal or visual style. Outsider art is the epitome of art as an extension of the being; something raw and needed in many instances. For me, this is what art should be about. Art and creativity can come from anywhere, and take the form of anything, and outsider art very effectively illustrates this.
The best bit about the blog?
My favourite part of working on the blog last year was seeing all the work sent into me by artists hoping to get their work ‘out there.’ I really enjoyed creating a platform for artists who are perhaps side-lined from the mainstream art world for whatever reason, and I hope to continue to do this throughout 2013. There is now a page on the blog dedicated to artists who have appeared on it, and I think this is the blog’s greatest achievement in the last year.
Outsider art in 2013
In recent years, we have seen a much needed change in opinion from museums, the media and other institutions with regards to outsider art. This year, the Wellcome Collection will be exhibiting (for the first time in the UK) Japanese outsider art, and of course last autumn/winter we saw Pallant House Gallery’s ‘Outside In: National’, which so beautifully gave outsider art the space and curation it deserves within in an internationally renowned institution. The New York Outsider Art Fair will once again be taking place at the end of this month (be it under new ownership), helping to give outsider art the much needed professional and commercial respect it deserves.