If you're ever in Lausanne, be sure to visit the Collection de L'Art Brut, a wonderful gallery dedicated to outsider art. You can spend hours marvelling at the output of self-taught creators, many living at the margins of society and all indifferent to public acclaim. Oblivious to the market, they are people who make art out of necessity.
Why, then, do we regard some forms of creative expression as legitimate and others not? When definitions of mental health have long been slippery, what makes one imaginative leap a work of inspiration, and another the product of illness? And who gets to decide?
These are questions raised by actor Vic Llewellyn and songwriter Kid Carpet in The Castle Builder, a celebration of the creative instinct. If the work delights us, what matter who the creator is or what drives them?
After taking us on a tour of some of the world's great architectural follies, Llewellyn reminds us about Entartete Kunst. This 1937 Munich exhibition was mounted by the Nazis to demonise "degenerate" modern art. Joseph Goebbels wanted to show that modern artists were insane. The work of a surrealist, he argued, was indistinguishable from that of a psychiatric patient.
If that's true, suggests Llewellyn, it's for the opposite reason: it is all equally imaginative, all equally capable of giving pleasure, all good. So too are the rococo constructions made out of bottles, tiles and rocks by happy eccentrics following, unknowingly, in the footsteps of the exuberant "mad" King Ludwig II of Bavaria. For the mental health of all of us, creativity is essential. (Mark Fisher)
The Castle Builder is on at 12.55 at Summerhall until 28 August (not 22nd). Wheelchair Access, Level Access - https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/castle-builder
This Diagnosis was written by Scotsman critic Mark Fisher for an article focusing on TSOTF writing practice (published 17th August). Read the full piece here: http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/culture/edinburgh-festivals/the-sick-of-the-fringe-tackles-the-medical-matters-1-4205346
Outsider Art definitions from Raw Vision: http://rawvision.com/about/raw-vision-definitions
James Leadbitter/The Vacuum Cleaner interview in disability arts online: http://www.disabilityartsonline.org.uk/unlimited-2014-james-leadbitter-madlove-interview (he also did an amazing one with Creative Review much more recently (April 2016), but only available in print)
Introductory essay on Souzou: Outsider Art from Japan: https://wellcomecollection.org/introduction-souzou
Yayoi Kusama: http://www.yayoi-kusama.jp/e/information/