Radical Craft: Alternative Ways of Making – Artists

A Craftspace and Outside In touring exhibition

A older man, the artist, stands among birch trees dressed in a suit woven from strips of bark.

Birch Bark Suit, Erkki Pekkarinen  (Photo: VeliGranö)

National Touring Exhibition
2016 – 2017

The exhibition, which was co-curated by Laura Hamilton, showcased artworks by historically renowned artists associated with Outsider Art and contemporary artists some of whom are self-taught and all of whom see themselves as facing barriers to the art world for reasons including health, disability, social circumstance or isolation.

Find out more about the exhibition and the ideas behind it here. 

Artists

There were thirty-four exhibitors in Radical Craft: Alternative Ways of Making. The works were grouped into four themes in the exhibition: Historical Work, Cultural Roots, Intuitive Textiles and Radical Missions. Click on the artist’s name to see images and captions of their work.

Historical Work

Work by 3 artists who are no longer alive and were strongly associated with the Outsider Art genre. Their work is well documented and represented in museum and/or private collections.

Willem van Genk

model tram made from recycled materials

Willem van Genk

1927-2005
Belgium

Presikhaaf, trolleybus
Arnhem, trolleybus
Mixed media
Collection: Museum Dr. Guislain, Ghent

Willem was a painter but from 1988, only made models of vehicles. On account of his passion for trains, buses and train stations, he called himself “King of Stations”. These ramshackle trolleybuses were originally part of ‘The Arnhem Trolleybus Station’, a large installation which he kept in his living room. They encapsulate the flavour of the originals yet rarely include passengers.

Angus McPhee

woven hats and large woven boots on plinth

Angus McPhee

1916–1997
UK

These hats and boots are replicas of some of the garments made by Angus McPhee during his residence at Craig Dunain hospital. They were commissioned from Scottish weaver, Joanne B. Kaar since the originals are now very fragile. Made from knitted grasses, they reference, and illustrate, a very radical approach to a craft practiced on Uist; to make rope and horses’ bridles.

Joanne B Kaar
Pair of knitted boots, 2015
Grass
Commissioned by Craftspace

Joanne B Kaar
Oslo stitch hat, 2015
Blue iris leaves
Lender: The artist

Joanne B Kaar
Coppergate stitch hat, 2015
Soft rush
Lender: The artist

Judith Scott

Judith Scott textile scultpure hanging from wooden plinth stand in oriel davies gallery space

Judith Scott

1943–2005
USA

Untitled, 1990
Yarn
Lender: Musgrave Kinley Outsider Art Collection
The Whitworth, The University of Manchester

Inspired by a fibre class at the Creative Growth Arts Center in California Judith began to meticulously wrap found objects in carefully selected lengths of knotted cloth and yarn. Some resembled cocoons and others, body parts. Many contained hidden objects gathered from the studio. None of the 200 pieces created over a period of 18 years, incorporated the same shape or colour scheme.

Cultural Roots

An autobiographical focus informs the artists’ practice. From the environment in which they have grown up or now work, to experiences that have had a lasting impact on their interests and perspectives.

Aradne

Aradne's colourful embroidered imagined figures grouped together

Aradne

UK

The Gathering
Machine embroidery, Pop-Up 3D Sculpture
Lender: The artist

“This piece came about as a result of the working process and experimentation. As I never draw or plan out what I’m going to make, any development is unexpected and therefore free of limits. ‘The Gathering’ is a secret meeting of unearthly creatures in an alternative world which exists in my imagination, which I hope conveys my love of dark myths and fairy tales. It is also a reflection of my unique childhood in Africa.”

Barry Anthony Finan

Barry Anthony Finan

UK

TELLEGRRAPGHPOOLLESSERRSS
Mixed media
Lender: The artist

“YES I LIKE WRRIGHHTINNG ACTTINNG PLLAY DOINNG LOTSS OFF TRRICKSSERSS JUMMPINNG ONN THHAT TALLKINNG 3071 YEARRSSERRSS AGO TELLEVISSIONNIONN PICTTURRESSERRSS YES I LIKE DRRAWINNG TRRAFFIC LIGHHTSSERRSS STRREET LAMMPSSERRSS CARRRSSERRS.”

James Gladwell

James Gladwell

UK

Foreign Birds
Hand stitch on cotton fabric
Lender: The artist

Created for an exhibition called ‘Inspired by Birds’ in 2014, James drew a selection of his favourite birds in fabric pen, before stitching over the drawings with colourful cotton threads. As well as penguins, a chicken, a peacock and an eagle, the work features a small black crow that James added to hide a small tear in the material.

Beth Hopkins

Beth Hopkins

UK

Untitled, 2015
Found Objects
Lender: The artist

“This figure is made of discarded items washed up by the Thames at Vauxhall: circuit boards, part of a light fitting and a padlock. It is a mystery how these items came to be in the river. There are other discarded objects I’ve collected; coiled wire, broken clothes pegs and rubber bands. These broken fragments make up a new whole: a power figure containing the meaning of the Thames.”

Andrew Johnstone

Andrew Johnstone

UK

Andrew’s Ribs and Chips Hut
Hand stitched drawings and mixed media
Lender: The artist

Hand embroidered from his illustrations. In this piece Andrew has designed a place that he would like to visit: ‘Andrew’s Ribs and Chips Hut’. Inside he has included his favourite food and drinks; ribs, chips, Pepsi Max and chocolate ice cream.

Bus, Cup, Bowling
Hand stitched 3D collage
Lender: The artist

This piece features hand drawn illustrations and text of ten pin bowling and buses, recalling a trip to Southport to see his friend Laura. Andrew has a unique drawing style which is instantly recognisable in everything he creates. Themes of transport recur throughout his work and he mainly uses hand stitch to create 2D pieces.

Horace Lindezey

Horace Lindezey

UK

The Seven Suits
Wire, stitch and metal plate
Lender: The artist

In ‘The Seven Suits’ Horace has created wire drawings of each of the seven suits that he owns. He has also annotated this with the date he got the suit, what occasion it was for and who bought it for him on the metal plate and then stitched into it using wire.

Marie-Rose Lortet

Marie-Rose Lortet

France

No. 29B: La Tatouée, 1984
No.129B: Fumée Maison de Ville, 2012

Impregnated cotton thread
Lender: The artist

“I grew up in Alsace where the houses’ curved roofs made me think of old Russian houses. In 1978 I began to construct my own houses or ‘works in space’, from lace stiffened with fibre resin or sugar. Whenever anything becomes too easy, I challenge myself with bigger projects and over time, my architectural pieces have become larger and more complex.”

Pinkie Maclure

Pinkie Maclure

UK

Landfill Tantrum
Stained glass
Lender: The artist

Pinkie Maclure uses the slow, painstaking process of painting, firing, engraving and constructing stained glass panels to express her fears and confront bad memories, transforming them into beauty and humour. The people are being overwhelmed by all the buried rubbish; it pushes its way back up and it’s killing the ancient birds and beasts.

Rosemary McLeish

Rosemary McLeish

UK

What I Do When I Don’t Do The Ironing
Assemblage
Lender: The artist

“I was brought up in the fifties believing that I couldn’t do all sorts of things, including being an artist, because I was female. I dedicate this piece to my mother who loved my late-flowering art work and told me: ‘I’m so glad you escaped’.”

Andrew Omoding

Andrew Omoding

UK

Tom Baby
Teddy

Mixed media sculpture
Lender: The artist, courtesy of ActionSpace

Andrew Omoding’s work is intuitive and instinctive, using his tacit knowledge of form, shape and construction to add and discard elements as he goes. He builds up his creations by systematic layering, wrapping and attaching, often adding textiles, painted patterns and textures to complete the piece. The ‘Babies’ are from an installation which includes a bed, three babies and their toys. As in all of his work, this piece is very personal to Andrew; possibly autobiographical and very intriguing.

Erkki Pekkarinen

woven sculpture of man, woman holding a child

Erkki Pekkarinen

Finland

Walter and Rose
Birch bark, thread, paper
Lender: Union for Rural Culture and Education/
ITE Art Collection, Finland

Tiny shoes
Birch bark, thread
Lender: The artist

“I became interested in birch bark as a child and still love working with it. I set myself the challenge of making birch bark shoes after seeing a drawing in a schoolbook. My unique technique of weaving, bending and plaiting was developed through experimentation and practice. When there was plenty of birch bark in the woods, I made large objects but now that it is harder to find, I make smaller pieces.”

Joanna Simpson

group of little sculptures made from seed pods
gum nut folk

Joanna Simpson

UK

Good Luck Gum Nut Folk
Found objects and seed pods
Lender: The artist

“The Good Luck Gum Nut Folk are made from the seed pods of eucalyptus trees that were gathered whilst I lived in Sydney, New South Wales prior to the year 2000. Various other found objects are included too, and they all sit on Australian pennies. I cluster the folk together in different groups, like little families and communities. To me they are lucky figures and I hope that they are safe in God’s hands.”

Maria Wicko

ceramic bird sculpture

Maria Wicko

UK

Bird with Open Wings
Blue and Orange Bird Jug

Ceramic
Lender: Barrington Farm, Norfolk

Inspired by the variety of birdlife at Barrington Farm, Norfolk, Maria worked mostly with traditional ‘coil-pot’ methods. She built up large scale bowl or vase structures whilst simultaneously incorporating her vision of a certain bird and then adding their distinguishing features using the same coiling technique. The surfaces are covered in organic shapes and rhythmic pattern, often with illustrations of nature and other creatures. Maria passed away in 2000.

Xavier White

glass sculptures

Xavier White

UK

Verrelic Spires 1–5
Glass sculptures (recycled glass)
Lender: The artist

The spires, made from recycled domestic glass items are bonded together to form towers that represent cognitive processes. The connections between the objects represent connections within the brain and the glass is a metaphor for the contradictory fragility and strength of the brain. “My fascination with brain function stems from my near fatal head injury when I was 18 whilst cycling.”

Terence Wilde

four ceramic sculpture

Terence Wilde

UK

Embodiments
Ceramics and found materials
Lender: The artist

‘Panic, Visceral, Control, Exposed, Sadness, Seeking External Approval, Bound by Shame, Naive, Fragility and Freedom’
These nine ceramic maquettes represent expressions of something in a tangible and visible way. They are a departure for the artist both in approach and style, taking ideas, experiences and materials from different places and bringing them together with clay as a central and unifying element. Working this way is a return to the spontaneity of the child, playing creatively in the unguarded moment.

Intuitive Textiles

Utilising textiles to engage with the outside world; particularly for artists without speech, or simply as a way to celebrate texture and colour.

Linda Bell

fabric sculptures hanging together

Linda Bell

UK

Hanging Frames
Mixed media interactive sculpture
Film (running time 3 minutes)
Lender: The artist, courtesy of ActionSpace

Linda created two sculptural hanging frames, which were suspended in Tooting Market for the Wandsworth Arts Festival. All her work is created through playful exploration before settling on final forms. The film shows Linda interacting with her work, swinging the frames and enjoying the sensuous quality of the materials and the movement as the frame swings.

Nnena Kalu

textile and cling film sculpture displayed on plinth in gallery

Nnena Kalu

UK

Mummified Sculpture
Mixed media
Lender: The artist, courtesy of ActionSpace

In her sculptural work Nnena indulges her interest in layering, incorporating any materials and/or objects she finds to hand. Nnena especially enjoys materials with a continuous line that she can use to bind — string, tapes and wool. Through the process of repeatedly wrapping Nnena responds to the sounds created and the rhythm of the process. As she works, Nnena becomes physically part of the work and the whole experience of creating for Nnena appears fully immersive.

Lasmin Salmon

textile artwork with colourful rectangles and circles

Lasmin Salmon

UK

Rug
Textile collage
Lender: The artist, courtesy of ActionSpace

Lasmin has a passion for fabrics and fibres. She will play with materials, bending and twisting fabrics and materials until the right shape is made. Lasmin then recreates the shape in many varied forms, meticulously constructing each piece with carefully selected fabrics and materials. Then with absolute precision, she sews the materials together to create the desired shape.

Michael Smith

jeans with masking tape wrapped around them
jeans with tape wrapped round them displayed in the gallery

Michael Smith

UK

Jeans (I)
Jeans (II)

Denim, masking tape, PVA
Lender: The artist

Michael’s recent series of sculptures originated from a desire to create clothing he would like to wear. Donated denim jeans are cut, folded, reshaped and wrapped with layers of masking tape, transforming everyday garments into playful experimentations of form and texture. These bold yet considered works continue Michael’s exploration with tape and textiles, and quietly hint at his passionate interest in the lifestyle of the cowboy.

Atsushi Yoshimoto

textile artwork knotted sheet

Atsushi Yoshimoto

Japan

Untitled I
Untitled II
Untitled III

Hand stitch on textile
Lender: Shobu Gakuen, Japan

Atsushi does not set out to create particular things. He is self-taught and his approach appears completely intuitive. He is obsessed by the pleasure derived from the pursuit of an impulse and its material realisation. The tactile, 3D quality of his work owes much to his preference for thin, glossy cloth on which he sews clusters of tiny, tightly rolled balls of thread.

Radical Missions

A passion for a particular subject or the drive to work with or hone a particular technique.

Kate Bradbury

sculpture of a man with chest made from a suitcase

Kate Bradbury

UK

Railroad Jim
Mixed media
Lender: The artist

“It was providence that led me to unearth from among the washed up debris of a North London gutter, ‘Railroad Jim’s’ damp, malodorous, redundant suitcase. I have repaired with sweat and sympathy, hammer and nails, its leaky seams and cured it of its weightlessness with the souvenirs, songs and constellations of Jim’s migratory life. We stand shoulder to shoulder until the day he embarks upon his onward passage.”

Sue Burbidge

wooden cupboard on shelves with wood turned items inside

Sue Burbidge

UK

Bethlem Xylotheque: VOLUME II Castanea
Sativa (Ferrum)

Lender: The Bethlem Wood Library
Sweet Chestnut; barbed wire incursion. Handmade paper — Monks Orchard stone, clay.
Interior — Holm Oak, Birch, Apple, Horse Chestnut, moss, Lime Burr, Red Cherry, Beech, Holly, badger fur, Cherry, Sycamore.

All materials gathered from the immediate surroundings of a 150 year old Sweet Chestnut grown next to Monks Orchard House, now the grounds of The Bethlem Royal Hospital. Xylotheque: (from the Greek xylon for ‘wood’ and ‘theque’ meaning ‘repository’) is a wood collection. As a library is more than a collection of books, a xylotheque is more than a collection of wood.

Nek Chand Saini

cloth figure
Nek Chand Saini cloth figures on plinth in gallery space

Nek Chand Saini

India

Two cloth figures
Stitched textile
Lender: Private Collection

Nek Chand Saini is better known for his prolific collection of figurative sculptures made from salvaged, hard materials — rubble, pottery, mosaic — which populate his Rock Garden of Chandigarh, India. Self-taught, he spent 18 years secretly creating his vision of the kingdom of Sukrani. Discovered in 1975, it has since doubled in size and is hailed as one of the wonders of the modern world. Nek passed away in 2015.

Dalton M Ghetti

carving of a giraffe in the lead of a pencil
framed Ghetti pencil carvings on gallery walls

Dalton M Ghetti

USA

Boot, Chain, Giraffe, Hollow Cube,
Small Vase, Cheers, Outraged,
Small Plate

Graphite and wood
Lender: The artist

“Small is Beautiful”

Designed to be the smallest sculptures visible to the naked eye, each piece is carved on the tip of a joiner’s pencil with a sewing needle or v-shaped, triangular metal blade. Due to the intensity of the work, Dalton can only sculpt for two hours a day and each piece can take up to a year to complete.

Roland Kappel

model sculpture of a digger made from reclaimed metal

Roland Kappel

Germany

CATTARPILLER, FUX 103B, Wolff Baukran
Mixed media
Lender: The artist, courtesy of Atelier 5, Germany

“It is important not to forget about old machinery. Whenever I see something new, on a building site or out and about somewhere, I think about how I can use it to build with. Sometimes it comes from my imagination. CD players have a disc with ball bearings, and I need those things for my excavators and cranes. And there is also a moving rail inside which works like a lift.”

Julia Krause-Harder

metal stegosaurus scultpure
textile dinosaur sculpture

Julia Krause-Harder

Germany

Stegosaurus, 2012
Scrap metal and cable ties
Lender: The artist, courtesy of Atelier Goldstein, Germany

Julia has made it her life’s mission to create 3D models of every known species of dinosaur but the Stegosaurus is one of her favourites. In 2005 she joined Atelier Goldstein, Frankfurt. With the support of a sculptor she began working on a large scale and with more demanding materials, to create dinosaur skeletons inspired by those seen in museums.

Argentinosaurus, 2013
Machine stitched textile
Lender: The artist, courtesy of Atelier Goldstein, Germany

This soft sculpture evolved from early experiments. Julia spent three years training to be a tailor. She initially employed her skills in pattern cutting and machine and hand sewing to create ‘pet dinosaurs’ from clothes stuffed with cotton.

Pradeep Kumar

painted toothpicks as persons and peacock
rows of painted toothpicks displayed in 4 frames on a wall

Pradeep Kumar

India

Untitled
Toothpicks, paint
Lender: The artist

Pradeep Kumar grew up in Narwana, a small village in India. Without any formal training, he began to use razor blades to carve figures and birds into sticks of chalk. He then progressed to delicately worked carvings incised and overpainted on matchsticks and then toothpicks. He is internationally renowned for his miniature masterpieces and has received various awards for his contribution to art and culture in India.

Shinichi Sawada

ceramic sculpture with two faces and horns
three sawada ceramic sculptures in exhibition case on plinth

Shinichi Sawada

Japan

Untitled 1
Untitled 17
Untitled 41

Ceramic
Lender: Private Collection in Japan

Shinichi is a prolific artist who works from a pottery in the mountains. He makes several different types of creatures and the significance of the ’thorns’ is known only to him. Each piece is allowed to dry for up to a year before being fired in a traditional wood-fuelled kiln for three days. Unglazed, they have a special earthy quality.

Ian Sherman

sculpture made from assembling various objects and trinkets in an exhibition case

Ian Sherman

UK

A Comedian
Assemblage, mixed media
Lender: The artist

“This assemblage began in 1994. Constructed using mainly found and some made objects, diverse as possible. I wanted a piece with a façade of frivolity and the absurd, but with a lurking introspection. A kind of synchronicity develops where otherwise worthless fragments appear at the right time. There are some cut down parts of my own paintings included. It is like living with a body of work that needs to be fed.”

Mr X

yellow cardboard mobile structure

Mr X

UK

Mobile Structure
Cardboard, found materials
Film of Mobile Structure/Truck 14 minutes
Lender: The artist

This film documents the evolution and one of the many recalibrations of Mobile Structure across 2014 to 2015. It shows the vehicle travelling around Bethlem Royal Hospital where it resides, and the local neighbourhood. The work gives a sense of freedom, joy and wonder to many who encounter it. “It is simultaneously a form of escape, a hiding place, a filter, a second skin — an alternative way of inhabiting the institution.” Michaela Ross

Pascal Tassini

chair with mixed textiles wrapped around it
textile headdress on plinth and photograph of woman wearing headdress

Pascal Tassini

Belgium

Untitled Chair
Mixed media
Lender: The artist, courtesy of Créahm.be, Belgium

Pascal initially focused on painting and ceramics. His serious exploration of textiles only began with a ‘surgery’ constructed from piles of textiles knotted around supports. This was followed by the creation of highly tactile organisms sculpted from rolled and knotted materials, concurrent with various objects — from chairs to coat hangers — being wrapped in strips of fabric and embellished with found objects.

Bridal Headdress II
Mixed media
Lender: The artist, courtesy of Créahm.be, Belgium

In the studio at Créahm in Liège, Pascal continuously works on his masterpiece: an evolving fabric house filled with his collections of fabric sculptures, writings, jewellery and wedding attire for both the bride and groom. His extraordinary bridal gowns and headdresses are created for the women to whom he writes letters and marriage proposals.

Love Letter
Ink on paper
Lender: The artist, courtesy of Créahm.be, Belgium

Pascal began creating art at Créahm, Liège in 1996 and, self-taught, is dedicated to the development of his craft. He is also an actor and as ‘Dr Tassini’, writes prescriptions for medicines and love letters from his ‘surgery’. Through his art, Pascal has found a universal language which touches individuals of all ages and cultures.



Where Next

A close up on Andrew looking into one of the 'pockets' of his textile works.

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Andrew concentrating sewing with a big spool of bright blue thread next to him

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Watch Trevor Marchand’s keynote speech from the Explorations in Creativity symposium.

model tram made from recycled materials

Radical Craft

A touring exhibition featuring 34 international and UK artists who express their creativity beyond the bounds of convention.



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