International and UK artists join for radical craft exhibition in Newtown

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Pinkie Maclure’s ‘Landfill Tantrum’ from the Rural Craft exhibition.

Thirty-four international and UK artists who express their creativity beyond the bounds of taught convention are showing work in a touring exhibition which is on show at Oriel Davies, Newtown from June 25 to August 29.

Radical Craft: Alternative Ways of Making, a Craftspace and Outside In exhibition, is co-curated by Laura Hamilton and showcases artworks by historically renowned artists associated with the ‘Outsider Art’ genre and contemporary artists, 21 of whom have been selected from open submissions.

Many of the cartists are self-taught and see themselves as facing barriers to the art world for reasons including health, disability, social circumstance or isolation.

Eminent artist Alice Kettle, a selector for the open UK call for artists, says the exhibition “communicates the dynamic of living and making, of using transformative potential of craft to enter other visionary worlds…craft becomes a process of resistance and method of adaptation”.

Themes in the exhibition include radical missions in which artists have a passion for a particular subject or technique; intuitive responses to textiles employed as a non-verbal means of engaging with the outside world; autobiographical responses to the natural or urban environment and folkloric or surreal perceptions of the world.

Each of the artists’ individual backgrounds and paths of creative development is fascinating. Many have never received any formal art training, although their practices may have been nurtured and encouraged in specialist centres or studios.

Their work or creative impulses have been developed with independence, perceptual senses and a lack of inhibition, which is rarely aimed at a particular audience or marketplace.

Xavier White’s (UK) ‘Verrelic Spires’, a conceptual glass assemblage made following rehabilitation from brain injury, refers to Duchamp’s ‘Large Glass’ (1920) and merges two words verre andmalic, symbolising bonding/possibilities of engagement/safety in numbers/something simultaneously tough and brittle.

Mr X (UK) makes large-scale cardboard structures and vehicles as a form of escape, survival and resistance to living in an institution. Pascal Tassini (Belgium) has a special interest in weddings and bridal attire, producing a complete environment including a wedding tent, rings, love letters and elaborate Baroque-style headdresses.

Beth Hopkins (UK) employs found objects, often washed up from the Thames and parts of discarded electrical gadgets. She finds it “empowering to reduce items down to their components, taking back the power digital life has over us all”.

Angus McPhee (Scotland) wove numerous garments from grasses, vegetation and sheep’s wool picked from barbed wire fences found in the grounds of the hospital he lived in.

Other artists include: Dalton M Ghetti’s (USA) extreme miniature forms sculpted into discarded pencil leads; Michael Smith’s (UK) altered donated jeans, bound and wrapped with masking tape; Erkki Pekkarinen’s (Finland) folkloric life size woven birch bark figures; Nnena Kalu’s (UK) large evolving cocoon-like forms of paper, fabric and foam bound and wrapped with tape, yarn and cling-film,and Julia Krause-Harder’s (Germany) large mixed media dinosaurs.

The panel for the UK open selection included textile artist Alice Kettle, artist and Outside In award winner Phil Baird, co-curator of Radical Craft Laura Hamilton,  Pallant House Gallery curator Katy Norris and director of Craftspace Deirdre Figueiredo.

The exhibition marks key anniversaries; 10 years of Outside In and 30 years of Craftspace.