Piece presented by Billy at the European Outsider Artists Conference on the theme of The Artist's Voice, May 2018, hosted by Outside In
Outsider art, also known as art brut and raw art, was first identified as an art genre by Jean Debuffet who specified the work would most likely come from prisoners, those with mental health illnesses, and/or artists marginalised in some other way. In my experience outsider art is emotionally raw and visceral in its affect, expressing deep emotions in unexpected ways. Given the often folk-art-fairy-tale nature of my work I initially struggled to identify myself as an outsider artist.
However, as part of my research into the issues faced by contemporary naïve artists in 2016-2017 I came across the work of Outside In and their mission to provide a platform for artists who find it difficult to access the art world due to health, disability, social circumstance, or isolation. In speaking with Outside In's founder, Marc Steene, I realised that as a naïve artist and carer I shared many of the issues faced by Outside In's artists.
I began to feel that not only did I fit in with Outside In, but that its mission to support other marginalised artists was incredibly close to my heart.
And so in 2018 I started volunteering with Outside In as an archivist: sorting and cataloging their growing collection of books, pamphlets, and correspondence. In May I took advantage of the near-to-me location and attended the European Outsider Art Association conference. Hosted by Outside In at Pallant House Gallery the event was attended by a large number of artists and those supporting them from the UK, across Europe, and as far away as Australia. In June I formally registered as an Outside In artist, and in September I presented my work as part of Outside In's first Share Art event at Fabrica in Brighton.
Through my involvement, and especially with every Outside In artist I meet, the more important Outside In becomes to me and in January 2019 I became an official Outside In Ambassador so I may share their work further.