What defines persons or a whole group of individuals as "outsiders"? The word implicitly indicates the existence of a boundary line between what is "us" (whoever we are) and "them", a line that through the ages and cultural changes has changed in thickness and definition. This differentiation can come in many different ways; as a spontaneous form of instinctive defense ( "I'm afraid of you and of what you represent"), as a derogatory system created by governments and gatekeepers ( "look at them, they are not like us"), as a reflection of scientific research (which is in turn a reflection of the cultural context in which it was generated). In all cases, physical and mental characteristics have been at the centre of such discrimination; skin colour, behaviour, the ability to express yourself are just some of the aspects that make a person an insider or an outsider. Especially since Romanticism, the art has been one of the fields in which this condition has been most studied; after all, the artists are outsiders of society, aren't them?
These are just some of the questions at the centre of "Outsiders", an exhibition by Michelle Fulham, Leon Cole and Katherine Hewlett held at the Westminster Reference Library in August 2016. The three multicultural and dyslexic artists present works that approach the issues of otherness and exclusion in different ways; Michelle Fulham focuses on discrimination against immigrants with four ceramic sculptures that tell the perception of immigrants in Victorian culture, Leon Cole creates a device for stereoscopic photography (another reference to the English culture of the nineteenth century) that subverts the secrecy of the original devices to create a system that asks the viewer a more transparent participation; Katherine Hewlett exposes a series of traditional not entirely figurative or abstract etchings, with heavy black lines running through the turbulent surface of the background. The exhibition is the final project drawn from the PhD research by Katherine Hewlett "An Investigation of Dyslexic Thinking in Creative Visual Artists" (2016). (FL)
Outsiders was exhibited at the Westminster Reference Library (London) from 1st to 27th August 2016: https://www.westminster.gov.uk/library-events
More information about Katherine Hewlett's research: http://www.nua.ac.uk/research/students/katherine-hewlett/
A broad introduction to Outsider Art: https://www.britannica.com/art/outsider-art#ref1080015
An article about the strong connection between dyslexic persons and creativity: http://www.mdx.ac.uk/news/2010/11/research-reveals-dyslexic-men-make-great-artists