Outsider Gallery, Ongoing

Since 2017, I have been collaborating with Outsider Gallery London – a participatory arts and music space for entering experiences of madness and intervening on how they are represented in society. I led a team of 13 undergraduates and faculty from University of East London to undertake a 2 year evaluation of their CREW program, which led people through a ten-week program of creative expression before exhibiting their work in community showcases. You can read the final report here.

Below are three small sets of words that I put together to overview Outsider Gallery London for Dazed & Confused magazine who asked us to contribute to their issue for Mental Health Week 2018.

I. Outsider Gallery London is London’s first mental health gallery. Outsider Gallery London uses creativity to intervene on individuals. Through 1:1 and group sessions, people make art and music from and to experiences of distress and madness. Literally making a space where people can hear the sound of their own voice and see themselves on paper, it challenges people’s own and others’ ideas of who they are and what they can do. Connecting people’s experiences to each other and society, it invites a gaze toward a broken world (not a broken brain). Outsider Gallery London brings the inside out and the outside in.

II. Outsider Gallery London is London’s first mental health gallery. Outsider Gallery London uses creativity to intervene on mental health services. Through care-provider engagement, exhibitions of art by ‘frontline’ workers and murals with people locked in psychiatric hospitals, healing is re-imagined. Literally making a space where people can make noise and paint on the walls, it challenges the circulation of fear and risk. Working in ways that are unfolding and participatory, it invites a human-ness on both sides, cultivating difference (not sameness), aiming for diversity (not normality). Outsider Gallery London brings the inside out and the outside in.

III. Outsider Gallery London is London’s first mental health gallery. Outsider Gallery London uses creativity to intervene on the public. Through community showcases, guerrilla interruptions and graffiti art in the streets, it provides a radical alternative to mainstream anti-stigma campaigns around distress and madness. Literally making a space for encounters with the silenced and the unseen, it challenges what feels comfortable and why. Providing a mirror that people can relate to, it invites feeling, community and dialogue, calling for attention to mad justice (not mental illness). Outsider Gallery London brings the inside out and the outside in.