It’s been a week of art.

It’s been a week of art and it’s not over until the fat lady sings; there’s RAGWORKS to measure and catalogue ready for October 16th. Time flies.

Just caught up on BBC Iplayer to get up to date with what’s occurring in the planet of established art and saw Zephaniah and Goldie doin’ Matisse and Turner. Fresh take on things and a change from Tim Marlow who I last saw trying to get any considered responses from Bailey about the whys and wherefores of photography and legacy. That was painful and Marlow was a dog with a rag. He actually put words into Bailey’s mouth. Way to interview! Job done.

Zephaniah was interested in Turner’s depictions of slavery and he investigated an huge painting “The Slave Ship”. Ole Zeph was not in his culture comfort zone or rather responded way too emotionally to art. It was a case of “I know what I like and I like what I know”. There were some great camera shots on the works of Turner and Zephaniah’s locks.

Goldie looked like he was lovin’ it. He saw Matisse as a joy-bringer,  raved about comfortable colours and hinted at Matisse as being one for the people.

Up Your Street community group is off to see Constable at the V&A in a couple of months but I tried to watch “Constable , a country rebel” on TV late night the other night. Too too boring . I still have to plough through the “Abstract” series on BBC Four. Lordy Lord.

The word “Outsider” crept into the programmes I watched with Zephaniah describing himself as an outsider and empathising with ole Turner. Really? Didn’t get that. I did get that Goldie was the only black man in Tate Modern that day and that I’ve never in my life seen a Rasta in any posh gallery. Oh Beeb and your diverse ways.

Up to my neck in Outsider Art having been to Seniors’ Art School in Southwark Park. Saw a doodly exhibition and lots of minutiae in biro. I’d been to the BowArts exhibition of Madge Gill’s work as it was pulled from the archives. This was my first conscious sighting of “Outsider Art” and it took me two hours to think positively about the scribbles. I am not that interested in the biography of the artist or hearing any pseudo psycho-analysis about an artist in glorious retrospect. Just let me soak up the work and see if my judgemental spirit responds well.

At the workshops we participants followed through tasks to redefine drawing per se. No easy task to fiddle around with charcoal, pencil, ink , 30 pieces of A3 paper. wobbly easels, moving images, Charlie Mingus’ airs and artspeke in half an hour. No sir. We were to loosen our perceptions of what drawing should or might be so we stroked and dotted in time to Mingus. We became ambidextrous experimenting with our other hand and lapping quilled ink over wax crayon or felt tip inside pencil-drawn spirals. The hostility towards the tutor ebbed and flowed depending on the awkwardness of the task.

In the afternoon we were allowed to use biro to draw. We used postcard-sized paper and drew, scribbled, doodled, cut and pasted as in days of old, hardly laughed, felt uncomfortable and were a superficial “we”.

Another journey begins.

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Outsider art insights

Dilston Grove Southwark Park edge today was a-buzz with seniors scraping charcoal on paper to Charlie Mingus’ jazz tones. Tea and buttery flat biscuits maintained the ole sugar levels as we gawped at Outsider art, drew spirals, drew dashes and wrote for fifteen minutes in the zone, in the flow of a stream of consciousness. Twas almost unbearable and then someone said it, whined it out: “I want to draw”.

Here is a treat. Here is a free three day art workshop in a beautiful park. dilston

We ate al fresco. We watched the cygnets skim over the lake. The tutor couldn’t make it but we were happy enough warding off Dementia, testing out the new easels and using up all the expensive graphite.

But do I like Outsider art?

What we did at Tate.

Note to selves; “Focus focus focus. Remember the question posed and steer clear of memory lane”. It’s easy to share memories but Soapbox is not about that. It could be. Today it was about the responsibility of artists to the communal experience. Whoa there. Into the realms of artspeke! It was about the moral stance of the artist.
We squinted and squirmed at constructed pain. We reacted emotionally sometimes as a groove of colour triggered a jolt on our group or individual time line. We travelled through the decade-marked galleries of Tate Britain going from the angst and social commentaries in pictures of the turbulent nineteen thirties to the brash outer limits of 1960 American influenced billboards of artists’ dots and daring dashes.

What can beat thrashing out opinions, mulling over someone’s one- liner, listening to a Soapbox participant’s mind-thumping ear-grating take on a painting all in front of an Henry Moore mammoth mover.

Already we’ve moved on: Seniors will be looking for the next word-provoking challenge in the wise ole knowledge that the loads we learnt today will be internalised and pop into our brains at another leaning post. Wrap your balls around that, Dementia.
I did fall in love with two paintings. Not the one with the naked willy and the hairy mons pubis. Yuk . No. Twas Adler’s “The Mutilated” (I think that’s the title) and a huge scraped paint canvas translated as “The She-Wolf”.

Today, seniors who enrolled on a two year pre-degree course in art appreciation at Birkbeck University through the recommendation of and motivation from Up Your Street glory in its end. It was a tough two years for them. How proud they should be. Tomorrow they pick up Adult Learners’ Awards at The Canal Museum in King’s Cross. What leads where, eh?

Now let me go translate the email I received all about some art in Southwark : the first sentence put me off.