Spring season has kicked off at Chichester’s Pallant House Gallery with the launch of a ‘unique’ touring exhibition.
Radical Craft: Alternative Ways of Making brings together 34 international and UK artists, many of whom have faced barriers in accessing the art world, to showcase their creative work.
After being exhibited at the Chichester gallery from March 12 until June 12, Radical Craft will continue as a travelling exhibition to other locations around the UK.
The exhibition was initiated by Craftspace, an organisation which produces creative programmes, and was then developed in partnership with Outside In, a project which was founded by Pallant House Gallery and works to provide a platform for artists who have experienced exclusion from the contemporary art world.
Laura Hamilton co-curated Radical Craft along with Emma Daker. Together, they worked as a team with Deirdre Figueiredo, who is the director of Craftspace.
Deirdre said: “Craftspace initiated the project, and as we were searching for a place to host the exhibition, we found the Pallant House Gallery. From there, Craftspace and Outside In have worked together on this unique project – it has been a very interesting partnership, as we have many shared values.
“It’s a human instinct to create – that is what we were hoping to show in the exhibition. There’s something for everyone.
“We were hoping to channel the Blue Peter idea – these artworks aren’t made from rarefied materials, it just comes down to human ingenuity.
“I feel very privileged to be able to see the artist’s experiences. It shifts our perspective, and enables us to look inwards, telling us about ourselves and our relationship to craft, as well as experiencing a sense of wonder and achievement at the skill and vision of the artists. It’s pleasing seeing something so amazing which was achieved through a different route from a different perspective.
“The exhibition emphasises the relationship between craftmanship and materiality, and asks the question: who are the makers?
“The artists are understanding the world through their hands, applying mind and body together.
“The works have also been written about in the catalogue, giving it that critical context.
“We hope that this project will create a legacy, and it will help people continue to engage with the artwork and get involved.”
The artwork that is featured in Radical Craft was selected from three different groups of makers.
The work of three historically renowned artists associated with the Outsider Art genre is featured alongside international work by ten invited artists.
There is also the work of 21 UK based artists, which was selected from an open call. Many of these artists were discovered during a national series of Surgery Days hosted by Outside In.
The exhibition is structured to demonstrate the works’ connection to four different headings: cultural roots, historical work, intuitive textiles and radical missions.
There is a wide variety of art styles, themes, mediums and messages represented in Radical Craft - from Angus McPhee’s woven garments, knitted in secret using only his fingers, to Willem van Genk’s fleet of model trams and trolleybuses.
Radical Craft chooses to not feature the artists’ ages or backgrounds on the plaques next to the artwork, instead allowing the work to speak for itself. This can be seen in the seven stories told by the seven wire suits created by Horace Lindezey, and in the feminist miniature assemblage piece ‘What I Do When I Don’t Do the Ironing’ by Rosemary McLeish.
Deirdre said: “I hope this exhibition shows that there are no rules in creating art, which is something I think must be very exciting and liberating for young people to see.”
This freedom of medium and form is well represented in Radical Craft, particularly in the multidimensional assemblage work of Ian Sherman, who is informed by the theatre, the circus, and the double life of the comedian between depression and humour, and the functional diggers, cranes and bulldozers created with items such as components from computer boards, old radios and CD players by artist Roland Kappel as a ‘homage to construction’.
Pallant House Gallery’s garden space has also been yarn bombed, decorated in a variety of colours, textiles, and techniques.
In addition to Radical Craft: Alternative Ways of Making, Pallant House Gallery is also currently exhibiting John Piper: The Fabric of Modernism, The Sleepers: Clare Woods and Des Hughes, and Helen Muspratt: Photographer.
For more information, visit pallant.org.uk.
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