SCARP by Nick Papadimitriou
A wild, magic, bleak, visionary text with gender blending and transformations at every chapter. He wanders the edgelands of North London as a rook, a woman, a teller of tales and deep topographer between spells as mad, and a spell in prison as a teenager. He sinks into the tarmac and the ancient brooks, and sleeps under trees and in stinking abandoned caravans. Truly magnetic.
Sceptre Books. 2011.
Outside In: Central Compton Verney, Warks.
This exhibition is part of a national project for showcasing the work of artists perceived to be on the margins. It features 16 artists from the Midlands who find art cathartic - like all artists I would venture - and who are helping themselves to overcome adverse life events through art.
Interleaved with their work were specially chosen pieces from the Folk Art collection at Compton Verney. Among these is a little model of a Potter’s Workshop form 1900 chosen by an embroiderer Natasha Boyd and and Mark James chose a 19th century streetscape to complement his outstanding painting The Narb. The latter is a huge door posted over with junk mail which has a street (The Narborough Road, Leicester) laid over it in house paint, acrylic and felt tip. Michael George paints intensely accurate and arresting images of methods of travel - from a fat bellied plane to a Cow and Gate lorry - inspired by places he has worked. He finds travel lifts his depression and helps him cope with the dark shadow cast by childhood traumas.
HIs folk art choice is Alfred Wallis’ Schooner approaching Harbour (1930) - a Cornish boat scene as seen from above almost. Michael says: ‘In the art world, Alfred’s and my work would be labelled ‘Naive’. However, like me, Alfred started painting to anaesthetise emotional pain; he losing his wife and me trying to cope with depression. Both of us just painting whatever we choose to paint in our own unique style. I see Alfred and I as kindred spirits.’
I am always foxed by the ‘Outsider’ label given to ‘untrained’ artists. It seems arbitrary and meaningless.