Thursday Lates: OutsiderXchanges Art Party

Tonight for one night only OutsiderXchanges take over The Whitworth Thursday Lates to present OutsiderXchanges project through an Art Party. Starting from 6-9pm there’ll be a feast of artworks, psychedelic performances, films, installations, happenings, sound art, party food and much more!

Check out these short psychedelic teaser trailers created by OutsiderXchanges collaborator and artist Matt Girling.

 

Thursday Lates: OutsiderXchanges

 

OutsiderXchange take over The Whitworth with an Art Party to remember!
3rd November, 6pm – 9pm. Free
The Whitworth Art Gallery, Oxford Road, M15 6ER

 

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Join us for a one off Art Party, expect party hats, sound experimentation, performance and a host of artistic revelry. The evening will see the artist collective presenting, artworks, audio visual work and a one off performance by new super noise band ‘Psychedelic Brain cells’, an extension of the experimentation within the OutsiderXchanges studio into sound and celebrates the act of playing.

Guests are invited to wear their best party outfit.

OutsiderXchanges is a pioneering visual arts project based on collaboration, reciprocal learning and creative exchange.

Artists involved in the project are: Juliet Davis, Barry Anthony Finan, Matt Girling, Jane Louise Graham, David James, Sarah Lee, Sophie Lee, Horace Lindezey, Tanya Raabe-Webber, Simon Raven, Rosanne Robertson and Leslie Thompson.

OutsiderXchanges is supported through public funding by Arts Council England. Project Partners and Supporters of OutsiderXchanges project: Venture ArtsCastlefield GalleryBALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and CVAN.

 

Pioneering Manchester-based collaboration between learning disabled visual artists and emerging artists draws wide spread attention and praise at The Manchester Contemporary

 

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We had an amazingly successful weekend introducing OutsiderXchanges project at The Manchester Contemporary art fair. We had a great time speaking to the public, collectors, exhibiting artists and gallery owners! And we sold some 3 art pieces! What else could we ask for?! We’d like to thank everyone who came down to the fair and everyone who helped make it happen!

Horace Lindezey enjoyed conducting his ‘School Days’ interviews with collaborating artist Juliet Davis, Rudolph Walker (If you could invite anybody in the world to our party, who would it be?) (#hangingwithrudolph) enjoyed perusing the exhibitor stands and mingling throughout the fair. Artist Leslie Thompson had incredibly feedback on his collection of fine-liner on paper vitrines with models and produced some fantastic live drawings of the event. All participating artists got the chance to speak to visitors about their resulting artwork and collaborations and their experience of exhibiting at such a high profile event.

OutsiderXchanges at The Manchester Contemporary 2016
Tanya Raabe-Webber, David James and Matt Girling watch ‘ The Pearlescent Party of Iridescent Energy’ The Manchester Contemporary Art Fair

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Selected artworks featured included pieces developed individually such Sarah Lee’s tactile three-dimensional clay ‘sketches’, inspired by the recent fire at the 16th-century Wythenshawe Hall, to collaborative works such as Yes Lad, Yes Lass (2016) by artists Barry Anthony Finan and Rosanne Robertson, a poignant mixed media video installation. This sculptural work represents the meeting of the two artists with their ambitions laid bare. Leslie Thompson, a prolific drawer, who at every opportunity is documenting his observations of events happening around him, in enormous detail using pen on paper, and in his own recognisable witty style, to artists Horace Lindezey and Juliet Davis who have involved public participation in their practice throughout to In a series of interviews Lindezey has been engaging participants in conversation on their childhood memories whilst also building models of their schools as a tool for reminiscence.

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Artists: Juliet Davis, Rudolph Walker (If you could invite anybody in the world to our party, who would it be?), Sophie Megan Lee and Horace Lindezey.

juliethoraceschooldays Horace and Juliet conducting their ‘School Days’ interveiws during the fair

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‘YES LAD, YES LASS’ 2016, Installation by Rosanne Robertson and Barry Anthony Finan

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Sarah Lees ‘The Leaf Dress’ 2016,  Architectural sketches on fabric

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Amanda Sutton, Director at Venture Arts said:

“Showcasing OutsiderXchanges at The Manchester Contemporary was a great opportunity for the project and our artists to exhibit to a wider arts audience, and the response we had was fantastic. Collectors, curators and the wider public all engaged with the work on many levels, and we sold a set of pieces to a high profile organisation within Manchester. Over the next few months with events and exhibitions planned at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and the Whitworth Gallery we aim to reach wider and more diverse audiences, and make the case for collaborative art practice within the contemporary art scene.”

Other fantastic feedback from the fair:

”The heart of the fair”

“Great to see art that takes responsibility in the real world!”

”TMC stall was completely amazing! And totally held its own in that environment, thought it was absolutely fantastic, we’re all very proud of you, so very well done to Venture arts and artists I say!”

 

 

Rosanne on Collaboration

We sat down with Rosanne Robertson to ask her about her thoughts and experiences on the OutsiderXchangeS project. Exploring how it may have changed her work and how she collaborates.

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How did you approach collaboration within the project and what difficulties did you discover, how did you overcome them?

 When I first considered collaboration as part of this project I had ideas that took the form of quite academic tasks. All of this way of thinking went out of the window as soon as I spent the first day in the studio. On reflection my ideas had been of a certain type of academic environment that our studio was not. In reality when at the studio I felt apprehensive about asserting any sort of leadership in our studio to organise – I did not want to front any task based collaboration at all. I instead found myself being led by the environment and allowed myself time to be influenced. I listened to the studio- and made some sound drawings which spiked with Barry’s squeaking marker pen and circled with Leslie’s repetitive and focussed drawing.

The thing that really helped me was to invite other people to join me in ‘play’ / improvisation. I brought in a big bag of old broken records that had been sitting in my studio- sometimes a record would be used to scratch or skreak or snap in a sound recording or performance. But now they were tipped upside down all over the middle of the OutsiderXchangeS studio floor. I invited firstly Horace to play with them with me and consider some 3D works together with them. As I use found objects in my practice to make temporary arrangements, as sound sources, sculptures and in performances I wanted to introduce how I would start with a piece of work.

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To me- these records were objects to be used/misused- they are detached now in a way from their original use – but to Horace they were records. He did not want to misuse the records. In a way my practice is based on misuse- there is a strong element of destruction- and often I don’t make any thing at all- I break things! Horace was dubious. But then Horace began to worry less about misusing the records and by the end of it he was happy snapping piles of records like no-ones business. We made piles of sort of assemblage / collage and some small sculptural models. It felt good to get out of 2d and into space- interacting with objects and each other. A theme of ‘play’ was developing in the studio at this stage- and many others joined in with their own additions to the improvisations that were going on.

And also, what successes have you discovered in collaboration?

One of the successes in collaboration that stands out for me was the spontaneous birth of new experimental noise group Psychedelic Brain Cells at our studio party. A big part of this project for me has come from artists like Leslie Thompson- doing and making art about things that really make you tick- that make you feel in good shape as Leslie puts it. We have talked a lot about identity, who we are, what makes you who you are, memories, who we look up to, who and what influences us- what we like. The party gave us a way to explore that more- “wear your best party clothes” and “who would you invite to the party if you could invite anybody?” The party gave way for us to all let a bit more loose and brought disco dancing (lead by Leslie) into the equation too- which is a form of expression you may not find in every artists studio on a Wednesday afternoon at 2pm. During this party I had set up some noise making things-and David mic’d up some of his objects from collaborating with Matt. Myself, Matt, David, Juliet and later Horace all started to make sounds together. After 15 minutes or so I thought we sounded quite good and were ready for our first inpromtu 5 minute concert. Everybody agreed. I gathered the rest of the studio/ party guests and we introduced our first gig- our band was given a name there and then by David- Psychedelic Braincells and we performed our first 5 minute set to a captive audience. We have all agreed to continue the band with a future recording, self release and gigs at both The Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art and The Whitworth Grand Hall for Thursday Late. I think this is one of my favourite outcomes of the project- because no body really saw it coming and I am excited about where it could go. We will be off to a good start with some quite high profile venues for first gigs!

My favourite collaboration has been with Barry Finan.

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I have realised over time that Barry is not a visual artist and does not work like a visual artist- he works as a writer and a very ambitious and prolific writer. His desk is a writers desk- a vast stock of paper and pens and reems and rolls of writing- top to bottom left to right- an urgent and ongoing commentary. It has been important to spend time with Barry’s work to understand it as more than the striking bold visual experience that it is. To read and hear Barry’s work over and over again is to understand Barry’s ambitions, restrictions, freedoms, lack of freedoms, assurances, reassurances, dreams and goals. Barry is very clearly telling whoever will listen that he is a writer- he is confirming that he is a writer with his actions and he is telling you/us/him/the people who need to know in order to make it happen that he wants to work- he wants to write, he wants to tell the BBC of his work, he wants to be interviewed by the BBC, he wants his work to be publicised- to be printed in the newspaper and to be recognised- and he wants to make a living- to move into a paid writing/acting job and make good money so he can do things like learn to drive and buy nice food.

I work with my own personal experience in my own work- with things that are difficult to express verbally or in writing- so in a way I am quite opposite to Barry but in another way we are exactly the same. I want to make art for the rest of my life- and it hasn’t been straight forward- there have been obstacles and in a way I have had my own internal monologue like Barry’s external monologue that I will be able to do it if I just keep going! I really want to do well- I often want to make up for what I feel is lost time due to turbulent periods of mental health when depression has kept me from pushing myself and achieving. I feel I understand the sentence in Barry’s work that says “Yes Lad you are doing well” – sometimes just a little bit of support can spur you on a long way. My relationship with my work feels like Barry’s to his- it is my life- it has always been everything to me and there is no distinction between what is life and what is art.

We have a video titled SCRRIPTT that shows some of the process of working together- which has informed our final mixed media installation- which stands like two bodies of work facing each other in conversation. Barry’s writing in all its forms piled up on a handwritten plinth propping up a televission with edited footage from our reading sessions facing my metal frame work laying bare bodily assemblage encasing amplified sounds, voice and close up footage. Our installation will draw the viewer into the personal space of our work and ask you to listen to the many parts. The final installation is titled YES LAD, YES LASS. 

Will the way you work in collaboration change now moving forward – was there a particular way you approached collaboration before?

 I can’t imagine finding a project in which I can work like this again! Collaboration will never be the same again without these guys. From this project I have learned to not have pre conceptions about how exactly to collaborate but just be open to it and go with what happens whether it is how / what you would usually do or not. I have not made my usual work on this project which is OK- it has been about new results. In the future I would try things out like the party idea- ways to bring people together on one large fun task really worked well and this is not something I would have done in the past.

How has the OutsiderXchangeS project changed your art work?

 I don’t think the project has changed my work as such but it has changed how I work and how I work with other people. I feel more able to work with other people now than I did before- and can see how collaboration can help an artist understand more about their own work.

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 How has it been working with artists who have a learning disability? Is there a difference? If so what is that?

 The main difference has been the level of dedication and concentration demonstrated by the artists with learning disabilities. Other artists I have worked with have slacked a lot more and also it hasn’t actually been about making art- in fact often working with other artists has often entailed more talking about or organising doing than actually doing. I found the ways the artists worked very inspiring and it has taught me to pull my socks up and get my head down. I found in this studio and on this project there are less egos and competitiveness than you might find in the ‘professional contemporary art world’. Often I find artists will adopt a sort of emotionless professionalism about their practices which I find a real turn off. All of the artists with learning disabilities are less afraid of being themselves with their work- all of the artists work with more honesty than you will find in more mainstream art worlds. I would like to be part of an art world that has more room for this honesty and is more accessible and inclusive.

 If there was one thing you felt proud the most about the OutsiderXchangeS project what is that?  – this could be a piece of work, a collaboration, the environment…

I was most proud of being the first to go on the karaoke to sing Wild Boys with Horace- and of our enthusiasm on the mic.

I am also proud of my work with Barry it means a lot to me when Barry says he likes working with me and that we are good friends now. I am proud of our work on SCRRIPTT and YES LAD, YES LASS.

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Matt on Collaboration

We sat down with Matt Girling to ask him about his thoughts and experiences on the OutsiderXchangeS project. Exploring how it may have changed his work and how he  collaborates.

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How did you approach collaboration within the project and what difficulties did you discover, how did you overcome them and also what successes have you discovered in collaboration? 

 I started out in a way that, looking back on it now, seemed naïve. Even before we came to the first studio session I had big bundle of ideas that seemed to me, likely to result in interesting and exciting collaborations. Most of these ideas involved me inviting other artist to participate in what I was doing; I had the door to my art practice open and beckoned people in to try it out. On the whole, this approach fell pretty flat. Other artists were interested but understandably were more interested in getting on with there own work. At that early stage I wasn’t comfortable attempting to influence what anybody else was working on. It felt rude to break somebodies’ busy concentration and try and make a difference to artwork that in most cases doesn’t need to be changed at all.

So I decided to do the same and just get on with my own practice. Just doing the what I would have been doing regardless of the context of the residency. I was mainly drawing. I sit next to Lesley in the studio, He also draws a lot too, and generally with the same kind of equipment to me; he’s the only person I know with a bigger trail of dried out black fine liners in their wake than me. Working so closely in parallel with another artist with a similar process to mine has defiantly affected the way I make drawings in two ways, I have become more interested in making drawings that tell stories. I have adopted a more dogmatic determination to keep going without becoming distracted. The way Leslie is able to concentrate has made me pull my socks up and really get on with it.

After that initial handful of sessions collaborations started to form organically; small at first, using an action figure belonging to Leslie for a bit of animation or giving Barry an alternative kind of paper to do his writing on. Ever since I have just let stuff happen without planning ahead, often working with different artists from week to week. More recently I have been working a lot with David, we have been making some experimental animations using green screen, (or “the ghost town effect” a term coined by David because he had seen it used in the music video by the specials.) we still don’t really know what it is we are doing but we are both just enjoying process for the time being. Looking forward towards the end of the residency I plan to amass all the small chunks of collaborative video work made and into a kind of visual soup. But that might change.

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Will the way you work in collaboration change now moving forward – was there a particular way you approached collaboration before? How has the OutsiderXchangeS project changed your art work? 

I haven’t collaborated on many art projects in the past so I can’t be sure. I’m fairly sure it has in some way affected the way I will work both collaboratively and on my own in the future.

How has it been working with artists who have a learning disability? Is there a difference? If so what is that? 

The difference in the way any two people perceive the world is massive, with the learning disabled artist working on Outsiderxchanges that difference in perception is multiplied wildly. This has made the whole experience insightful, confusing, hilarious in equal measures.

 If there was one thing you felt proud the most about the OutsiderXchangeS project what is that?  – this could be a piece of work, a collaboration, the environment…

 I wouldn’t say I have felt proud for any one piece of work but I was very happy with the reaction the project received at the open studio we held in May. I think people were able to see that this project is about mutual growth, which is important. I am looking forward to pulling all the loose ends together to make something that I am proud of in the coming months.

David OutsiderXchangeS Reflections

We sat with David today to have a chat about his work and collaborations on the OutsiderXchangeS project. Here are his thoughts:

“I’m trying to make the original painting come alive more by putting bits on top of it.

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I’ve got socks from Southport which have lots of different designs, I picked them because they are colourful and different and they blend in with my painting. They also remind me of the animations I did with Matt early on in this project.

I’ve got some jewellery and beads which I’ve brought from home which a family friend passed on to me, I’m adding them to the picture as well because they are so different.

I like things being different, I like to do something different that no one else has done before. It is unique.

I’ve been looking at different established artists to add elements and how they work into my work and it has ended up looking nothing like their work, but has turned into something quite unique.

It is boring just being the same, it is more exciting to be different and unique.

Collaborating I’ve been working with Matt and animating figures with my work on top of them. This added to my work, because I started to add the shapes of characters into my work. When I’ve completed this it would be great to then go back with Matt and animate the dinosaurs and fishes in my work and to see how they look, I don’t know if that will be possible but that’s the fun of this work and collaboration.

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Today I also did some interesting work with Roseanne which included sound, she has a set up that picks up minute sounds of springs and pen scratches using special microphones that pick up tiny noises. It sounds really unique and unusual. I added and dragged a bead necklace on the microphones which was recorded. This made me think about bringing sound similar to this into my main work, creating abstract noises for the animals and their movement which may then add to the animation work I want to explore with Matt.

Working on this project has been great, the development of using different art, collaborating and my artwork improving as well.”

Collaboration within OutsiderXchangeS – Julie not Juliet

Horace was the first person I met when I came to Venture Arts – I actually met him outside the building on the day of my interview and remember being intrigued by his interest in knowing the year I was born, but also a bit intimidated by his insistence in my name being Julie and not Juliet.

When ‘OutsiderXchangeS’ actually started, Horace, Sophie and I quickly got together thanks to our common interest in education, childhood, and ways of working which are not limited to the studio but also involve online research, discussions and trips around Manchester.

Horace has been doing his interview series on the theme of school days and we thought the Open Studios would be a great way to take this project further.

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On Saturday 28th May, after Horace had been to church, we did five individual interviews in a small room next to our communal studio space where Horace first asked people questions about their childhood memories, before we asked them to build a small version of their school with wood blocks, so they could explain better how the school was structured, where their classroom was, where the head master or mistress’ office was, where they would play…

I was fascinated by how people would answer Horace’s questions in different ways: because they can be quite general (‘What were your school days?’), some people mainly spoke about the subjects they studied, some would enumerate the various schools they’d been to, one mainly talked about the games on the playground! Often the interviews are quite reflective for the people reflecting their stories, having to look back on fairly early memories and assumptions they had at the time (especially about the headmaster-mistress).

Some of the interviews were documented, but the important part of the work for us seems to be the live element, the special encounter with Horace and me in an intimate environment. Horace is being himself and speaking in the way he always speaks, I’m being myself as well… we’re not ‘performing’, but because it’s just the three of us and people have committed to the interview, I feel like this moment that we share together is slightly separate from the rest of the event and the discussions Horace can have with people the rest of the time. Where does the artwork/performance start and end? Who is performing?

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Throughout the interview, Horace, like he always does, impersonates different characters: the detached interviewer, his mum (“she told the dinner ladies ‘do not give Horace no pudding'”), the teacher, the headmaster (‘Where do you think you’re going?!’)… and the person being interviewed equally has to take on different roles: the adult recalling childhood memories, the pupil getting caught trying to get out of the school and having to justify themselves…

Horace also often uses sentences as ‘nets’ to catch us in this impersonation game, by ‘tricking’ us into finishing his sentences. (“-It’s not appropriate. It’s not what? -Appropriate.”)

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We’re hoping that these 15 minutes spent with us can help spark a mecanism of memories for the participants, even when they’ve gone out of the interview, and that by stimulating a conversation in a “safe” place slightly separated from the rest of what they experience during that day, they might be more open to encounters with strangers in their daily life…

Here are some extracts of some feedback we got during the day:

“It was pleasant to think back to my childhood. I was apprehensive at first but was put to ease by Horace. I was told to expect questions about my school years, but didn’t expect it to be deep and probing. I don’t think I have ever been interacted with by an art piece before.” Kamran, 28.

 

“It was great. It was different from the other artworks I’ve experienced before because of the interactivity, the focus on you as a participant and the ability to ask the artist questions.” Steph, 28.

We are going to develop the interview format during the future public events that will happen with Outsiderxchanges, and also devise a way for the artwork to be accessible when the interviews themselves are not possible. We’re currently working with Sophie on a video and a sound piece not being a mere documentation of the interviews, but a piece in its own right.

We’re really pleased by the enthusiasm that the participants have had so far and exited about the other works we want to develop together over the next few months!