OutsiderXchanges at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art: Exhibition and Symposium: Collaboration in Practice

On Tuesday 18th of October, Venture Arts presented Symposium: Collaboration in Practice at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art. Speakers from leading organisations across the UK came together to share their experiences of collaboration in contemporary disability visual art practice.

The symposium coincided with the OutsiderXchanges exhibition at the Quay Gallery, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art from 1st-31st October 2016 where materials and documents were exhibited alongside the final works to reveal the relationships, work, play, and collaboration that led to the final outcomes. Over the past 7-months, OutsiderXchanges, a visual arts project based on collaboration, reciprocal learning and creative exchange has brought together six learning disabled artists and six contemporary visual artists in one studio space. Taking parity of ideas and aesthetic approaches as a starting point the resulting works blur the line between art and life, inviting the viewer to challenge their own conceptions of art and what might be considered ‘outsider’ art.

Irreverent and authentic with a little bit of anarchy – Amanda Sutton, Director of Venture Arts

The event began with a warm welcome an introduction to the event from Amanda Sutton, Director of Venture Arts, presenting an overview of the OutsiderXchanges project with Venture Arts and OutsiderXchanges artist Horace Lindezey. Delegates were then encouraged to look around the OutsiderXchanges exhibition and Studio Lab which included a show-reel of films in the cinema area and performative work in the cube space, where newly formed sound art band The Pyschedelic Brain Cells delivered another unique and ever evolving performance.

Venture Arts then presented a brilliant film created by Venture Arts’ Martin Livesey, capturing the last 7 months of the project, highlighting creative practice, unique processes and perspectives on collaboration between artists when they were based in the studio at New Art Spaces Chorlton, Castlefield Gallery’s . This film will be available online soon.

Who is the insider and who is the outsider? – Kwong Lee, Castlefield Gallery.

Next, reflections from Kwong Lee, Castlefield Gallery. Kwong spoke about supporting Venture Arts’ vision, New Art Spaces and the focus of adding value to emerging artists and independent studios leading independent projects. He also discussed the collaborative process that takes place between galleries and studios.

We collaborate to survive, everybody does. Collaboration is the value of the unknown and uncertainty. Collisions of different ways of making and thinking. – Simon Raven

Simon Raven, OutsiderXchanges artist and Phd Researcher at Northumberland University, shares his experience of the collaboration between himself and artist Jane Louise Graham in the creation of their subversive film ‘The Invisible Gallery’. He spoke of existing power structures within the arts and questioned what is unique about disability arts and collaboration.

Barbara Van Heel, Co-Director of Action Space London and Charlotte Hollinshead, Artist Facilitator at Action Space’s Studio Voltaire, speak about the history of their studio and how many artists Charlotte works with apply collaborative elements in different ways, often through participatory projects.

We got a guided tour of the Project Ability studios from artist Cameron Morgan. Elizabeth Gibson, Artistic Director of Project Ability, who work with 124 artists weekly, talks about how residencies aid the collaborative process, using UNLIMITED commission collaboration between Cameron Morgan and Alan McEwan as an example.

Community engagement must be artist led, accessible, outward looking and use quality materials – Shan Edwards

Shan Edwards, Chief Executive and Artistic Director, introduced The Arthouse, Wakefield delivers her manifesto and the importance of artist residencies and how they role they play to help diversity in the arts, creative learning and supporting artists of all abilities.

Art and disability or disability arts? Disability is the last avant garde. – Ruth Gould

Ruth Gould, Director of DaDa Fest International, gave us a fantastic brief history of disability arts and spoke about DaDa Festival.

Why is our work not talked about in a serious way? Why is it not talked about at all? Talk seriously about inclusion in the wider art world. – Gus Garside

Lastly Gus Garside, National Co-ordinator of Creative Minds talks about bringing together learning disabled artists and performers and spoke on behalf of Sarah Watson, Artist and Founding Member of Creative Minds.


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