At the moment at the Wellcome Collection they have a free exhibition of outsider art from Japan. All of the artists live in assisted living facilities, and most of them create their artwork as part of art therapy classes.
I used to get a really good outsider art magazine from Borders, but I only managed to buy a few issues before Borders went bust, and I’ve never seen it stocked anywhere else. There’s something fascinating and inspiring about how the artists are completely in their own world, making the art just because they want to do it, and feel driven to create that specific thing. The work in this exhibition was strong in its own merits, it didn’t feel like you were gawping at the inmates like some Victorian tour of Bedlam. (Songs in the Key of Z is an equally fascinating book about outsider music.) I went to art college, so you can say I’m an insider, and it’s always nice to be paid for creating things, but I can’t say I feel entirely at home with the more money-orientated side of the art world, and I utterly despise the likes of Damien Hirst.
The photos come from the Wellcome Collection website, because photography wasn’t allowed.
I went to the exhibition twice, once with Ellina, and the second time with Melanie and Christina. Ellina was very struck with these hundreds of tiny men made out of wire bag ties by Shota Katsube. All of them were different, and if you put your head down at the level of the glass in the display case, their reflections multiplied in the glass to create thousands of them. It made E want to create something in huge volumes, piles and piles of small somethings.
These maps by Norimitsu Kokubo were my favourite. At first glance I thought they were embroideries, but actually they’re pen drawings, roughly 3-4m long. I like the way the buildings are rotated towards the roads. It gives me ideas. Also, now I want to make something really enormous. Watch this space. Well, at least, don’t watch it too intently because it might take me a while.
M had recently been on a glassblowing course, and these lions by Ryosuke Otsuji made her want to try her hand at ceramics.