Art: The Outsiders, City Art Gallery, Long Row
T HE outsiders here, we are led to understand, are Nottingham visual artists who perhaps feel that they stand outside….well, what exactly? According to curator Mark Chapman, himself one of the six artists in the show, they're all outside local artist groups and studios.
Pursuit of places in such studios, as well as competition for funding and spaces, makes it harder for artists to retain a sense of individuality.
"Being an artist today requires unshakeable self-belief and objectivity," says Chapman, who co-founded and organised the debut Carnival Of Monsters art event in Chilwell two years ago.
But, in viewing the work of fellow artists such as Nicholas Wright and Joe Kelly, you may sense that they're also choosing to stand outside usual economic rules of consumption.
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Kelly, for example, makes sculptures out of odds and ends from skips (they are better than this makes them sound) and flags this up.
Wright, who shows fragile and surprisingly lovely colour paintings of objects that look like biological cells, seems to feel much the same way.
"I am not anti-capitalist, simply anti-greed," he states.
"We do not need half of what we are influenced to buy, for the benefit of the few."
Chapman's wall piece, consisting of several modern clocks that have been sliced in half, or quartered, similarly looks like something that might have recycled from a pile of props in the corner of Salvador Dali's studio.
The other three artists here, Adrian Shaw, Jessica Paige Greig and Helen Stevenson, likewise make and show their art with a minimum of fussiness and materials. Only Shaw, whose displays of abstract colours he called "Sci-Art", draws energy from the grid to power his lightboxes and laptop.
These then, are all "outsiders" and fittingly Chapman has chosen a gallery for outsiders to show them in – the City Art Gallery, converted from a sex shop on a shoestring and found up the alleyway beside the Coral betting shop off Long Row.
Chapman sounds like he's up for shake-up of the current Nottingham "art scene" and is calling for more collaboration and less competition.
"Artists face fierce competition among each other for limited funding, studio space and exhibition opportunities, and even obtaining a studio is a daunting prospect, with many artists' groups now requiring prospective members to undergo an 'application procedure' involving form filling, portfolio inspections and panel interviews to find out if they are 'good enough' to join. It's difficult to keep your own identity in face of such competition."