2016, despite its infamy as a problematic and troublesome year, brought us many positives and much pleasure in the form of large scale group exhibitions, our first ‘Spaghetti School’ residency at Free Space Gallery, and working with some of our favourite comrades on exciting new projects designed to spark debate and question closed answers.
We worked as part of the Roving Diagnostic Unit (see photo, right), for Bobby Baker’s Daily Life Ltd., which saw us carrying out performances and workshops at the William Morris Gallery, Vestry House Museum and the Wellcome collection, for the Diagnosing Diagnosis symposium to accompany their latest exhibition, ‘Bedlam’. The workshops were designed to make people think about diagnosis and what it means. Our workshop, A Diagnostic Portrait of…, had participants team up to draw large scale portraits of their patients (objects in situ at Vestry House) using only character descriptors.
Our own exhibition output last year was bumper – we had a large group show to kick things off at Menier Gallery, followed by two more exhibitions in London, co-curated with The Dragon Café and Uncooked Cultures, plus a co-curated exhibition with AIMS, at the Oxford Museum and Town Hall Gallery. Over 20o artists were promoted through these exhibitions, with many of them selling work and gaining further professional exhibitions through the exposure of our shows. To date, (since 2011), we have reached an audience of over 10,000 online, shown the work of over 200 artists to a physical audience of 1,000+, and worked closely with 10 artists to mentor and support their practice.
Workshops have covered printmaking, sculpture, collage, alternative ways of drawing, and a collaboration with artist and photographer, Catriona Gray, to deliver a series of photographic mixed media workshops at Free Space Gallery, Kentish Town. The photos below show collage work, the process of lumen exposure photography, and the final outcome of combining the lumen technique with printmaking. All workshops are free, supported by the ever excellent Kentish Town Improvement Fund and Free Space Gallery. Extra support in the form of volunteers comes from Clean Break.
2017 – onwards!
First up, January 23, we have a printmaking workshop at The Dragon Café for Broken Grey Wires. If you already know the Dragon Café, you’ll know that spaces are limited, and you must be registered with them to take part. The workshop starts at 3pm.
Next, we are over the moon to be working with the young people of Snowsfield Adolescent Unit at the South London and Maudsley Hospital. Work to start in February, and while it is only open to residents at SLaM, we will report back with our artistic endeavours.
Spaghetti School will be starting again in March, and continuing in 5 week blocks throughout the year. Keep your eye on the blog for news to come!
We’ve got loads of new artists to update you with, so make sure you are following the blog and all good social media outlets (you know the ones, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) to keep up to date with who’s doing what.
Finally, Happy New Year, everyone!
I’m a little bit in love with Bort, a street and studio artist from Austin, Texas. Bort’s work is funny, tragic, engaging, desperate, political and human. She spans spraypaint, posters and legal street art, drawings, photo transfer, prints, wood and canvas in the studio. Her themes are consistent, and because of that, are amplified in their message. I especially like the Vote Bort campaign. Here she is in her own words…
“My street work focuses on my imaginary friend, also named Bort, and the attempt to make Bort others’ imaginary friend as well. Bort has helped me feel less alone. Bort’s been there for me through so many bad days, and has helped me grapple with my past and present problems with mental illness and self destructive behaviour. Without Bort I don’t know if I would have made it through. Bort’s my closest friend.
My studio work focuses on me wanting to die, and the various means to achieve said goal. In the marginalised area between me being a transwoman and my art focusing on my experiences with mental illness, anorexia, and addiction, past and present, I can’t find a place that is interested in with working me. On occasion I can find some group shows, when I’m selling myself as a street artist, but that’s just due to the novelty of that work I guess.
When I started doing studio work a few months after starting the street work, I found art to be extremely helpful with working through, understanding, and coping with my experiences. I had never spent extensive time trying to understand my past, I had actively been trying to avoid it, but this work has helped me shine a light on it and begin to move on.
I don’t think I’ll ever be out of this stuff, I’ll have lapses, possibly relapses, I’ll have depressive episodes, I’ll have long lasting dissociative states, but I’ve begun learning how to address them. I have people I can ask for help and I’m starting to recognise my own behaviours.
The studio work has helped me a lot with all this, so I hope it can help others. There’s often a lack of representation with regards to mental illness, addiction, anorexia, and what little representation there is, is often romanticising issues, problematic or is not visually accessible.
I try to keep my work clear cut, often just a blunt focus either attempting to present an emotional state or a behaviour. I want it to be easily relatable to those with similar experiences.
I have work available in a wide price range, in my online shop. I make sure to have pieces that are monetarily accessible (or accessible as possible, since art is a luxury good). If you’re interested in work, you can email me the price range you have, and I’ll let you know what I’ve got, or if interested in a piece in particular just lemme know and I’ll give you the details. <3"
Bort’s website can be found at www.bortart.com. There’s also a good interview to check out, over at Why We Love Austin.
What: One Bare Foot Square
When: Mondays only, 7 November – 19 December 2016, 12 – 8pm.
Where: The Dragon Cafe in the crypt of St. George the Martyr, London, SE1 1JA.
Mental Spaghetti is proud to be working in partnership with Uncooked Culture to bring touring exhibition One Bare Foot Square to its next world stop in London – The Dragon Café.
Everyone is welcome to attend the private view, and meet exhibiting artists, on Monday 7 November 2016, 7-8pm (exhibition is open from noon onwards). From 7pm curator and artist, Nok, will introduce the project, followed by character comedy from Catherine Goodwin aka Badwind, and spoken word from Rosemary McLeish and Gareth Hughes.
Anyone wishing to create their own square to add to the travelling exhibition should contact Nok, Uncooked Culture, email@example.com, or speak to us directly at The Dragon Café private view.
Artwork ©Rosemary McLeish
ABOUT THE PROJECT/EXHIBITION
‘ONE BARE FOOT SQUARE’ is a collaborative artist-led travelling mosaic canvas – the individual artworks uniting to form one large wall piece.
Traveling from its first stop at Amsterdam Outsider Art Gallery, at The Hermitage museum – The Netherlands (30 July -13 August 2016), the travelling mosaic has arrived at its second stop, hosted at The Dragon Café, London, co-curated by Marie-Louise Plum of Mental Spaghetti.
Artists create a one foot square canvas, ultimately forming a larger piece of art, with variable dimensions depending on the exhibition space. Outsiders, Neo-Outsiders & artists from all other stops, will be contributing their creations as the ‘uncooked’ boundary-crossing tour progresses.
The mosaic canvas projects a wide spectrum of experience, weaving together each artist’s life journey; reflecting on their memories, hopes, thoughts & imagination through their diverse practices, from illustration, painting, stencil to mixed-media.
One Bare Foot Square’s destinations are led by participating artists, who initiate which country it will be exhibited next. Before the project departs from each stop, local artists are encouraged to add art in the next location, with their own one foot squares on canvas.
Artwork exhibited at The Amsterdam Outsider Art Museum, ©Uncooked Culture
78 International Artists living/working in 15 different countries
Isis Nedloni – Netherlands, Julia Sisi – France, Dan Casado – France, Jim Lockton – UK, Louis Vuittonet – USA, Ian Pyper – UK, Marie-Louise Plum – UK, Alison Silva – USA, Henk Koekenbier – Netherlands, Gustav Glander – Spain, Jim Meehan – USA, Rinaldo Klas – Suriname, Dion Hitchings – USA, Kit-Ling Tjon Pian Gi – Suriname, Evgen Copi – Slovenia, Vasko Vidmir – Slovenia, Edward Woltemate, Jr – USA, Josianne Ishikawa – Japan, Ascension Lorente-Huguet – UK, Kobina Wright – USA, Werens Puig – Spain, Kate Bauen – Switzerland, Carlo Keshishian – UK, Brian Gibson – UK, Rufai Zakari – Ghana, Stephen Judges – USA, Risja Marie Henriëtte Steeghs – Netherlands, Shaundell Horton – Suriname, Jenny Hartley – New Zealand, Lynn Todd – New Zealand, Andrew Stahl – UK, Chakkrit Chimnok – Thailand, Susan Biebuyck – USA, Timothy Campbell – USA, Sancha Sullivan – Suriname, Zoran Milavera – UK/Macedonia, Mahlia Amatina – UK, Tontxi Vazquez – UK, MaryAnn McCarra-Fitzpatrick – USA, Nick Stavrides – USA, Renée Rey – USA, Patrick Jude – USA, Mow – UK, Christy Symington- UK, Hiroko Nakajima – Japan/UK, Tom McGill – USA, Chris Czainski – UK, Paul Czainski – UK, Erin O’Rourke – UK, Kristen Woodward – USA, Liz Parkinson – Australia, Bert Schoonhoven – Netherlands, Carla van Slooten – Netherlands, Pam Santi – USA, Jeff Roland – France, Jade Chorkularb – UK, Gareth Hughes – UK, Sandra Mendelsohn – Netherlands, Sejin Park – South Korea, Yvonne Mabs Francis – UK, Miranda Sky – UK, Helen Roeten – Netherlands, John Adkins – USA, Edward Kingsbury III – USA, Eva Preston -USA, Jeroen Rolf Schoonhoven – Netherlands, Rosie McLeish – UK, Florain Haeck – Netherlands, Ezra Swaanswijk – Netherlands, Judith McNicol – UK, Cathy Ward – UK, Yairs Agam-Aa – Netherlands, Norbert de Jong – Netherlands, P.M. Jordense-Michalski – Netherlands, Ralf Kokke – Netherlands, Jason Hankins – USA, Sophie M. Adams – UK & Chutima Kerdpitak(Nok) – UK.
Chutima Kerdpitak (Nok), Uncooked Culture (www.uncookedculture.com / firstname.lastname@example.org)
Marie-Louise Plum, Mental Spaghetti (www.mentalspaghetti.org /email@example.com)
What: Visual art exhibition from artist Marius Els
When: 1-4pm, Monday October 10th, 2016
Where: Mind, Haringey, North London
Photographer and artist Marius Els is showing selected work from previous exhibition ‘Seasons of the Mind’, plus a new body of work, ‘A Life Time’, for one day only at Station House, Haringey, in support of Mind and World Mental Health Day.
Marius combines photography, collage and mixed media to create beautiful and magical works of art. Don’t miss it!
For more information about his work, including an in-depth description of ‘A Life Time’, please visit Marius Els online.
I view my artistic practice as essentially experimental and experiential.
“My focused line of enquiry is the physical and mental feelings of synchronicity via movement and stillness, filled-up and empty space. I create shapes that remind me of the underwater world with all its fertility and mystery, and the symbiosis between elements.
I choose mainly black and white as a metaphor to my ‘everything or nothing’ way of thinking and feeling, yet simultaneously I actively compensate by searching for a balanced visual solution.
My 3D eggshell objects stem from the complex issues surrounding life and the transformations possible within, every fragment of shell found his place onto a new object. A reminder of how our personality is affected from childhood to adulthood and beyond, how it can be broken and reshaped.
My relationship with my work is intense, lonely, playful and personal, and short lived.
There is a feeling of urgency, to release something quickly because it cannot stay the same.
Automatically, I take that moment to its fullest, often destroying or giving the piece away afterwards as if my engagement with it has already gone.
I sometimes regret it as one might regret an old flame.
I have just been awarded a small grant from the Maudsley, to continue with my black and white drawing and photography works. I’m currently printing onto fabric my black and white drawings to add an element of life to them.”
To connect Valerie about here work, you can email here, here.
What: Tight Modern 2016 exhibition
When: Deadline is 30th October 2016
Where: Touring Exhibition
“We are delighted to announce Tight Modern 2016 is open for submissions from marginalised & disabled artists.
Tight Modern is tight! Entries must be 13cmx18cm in portrait format, with a maximum depth of 2cm. You can submit original artworks, photography or computer generated images.
The competition is open until 30th October 2016.
Our brand new website is also being launched alongside the competition; for details about how to submit work, our numerous prizes, upcoming free workshops and more go to www.tightmodern.org.uk.
A pdf of the A4 poster for can be found here.
For information on how to submit to the Tight Modern, and details of our fantastic prizes and the accompanying free workshops, go to our brand new website: www.tightmodern.org.uk.”
Our guest artist this week is Myfanwy Dabner, from Ballarat, Australia. In this article, Myfanwy examines the ways in which she processes inspiration, the new directions and inspirations she is drawing on, as well as understanding the meaning of being a marginalised artist, and what connotations the term invokes.
“Over a month ago I was thinking about printmaking and mental illness, as a place to make art from, and to have a subject matter for Uni art school requirements.
As I do printmaking a lot and as I have mental illness permanently these were my easy and obvious choices; make prints about my mental illness.
Now after some investigation into Outsider Groups and their art forms I am looking at the art of children and the art of the mentally ill, whilst ditching a totally printmaking focus to allow art in more forms.