Outsider Art
Tate Britain: Exhibition
13 September 20052 January 2006
Monika Kinley and Victor Musgrave

Monika Kinley and Victor Musgrave

Courtesy of Tate Archive

This is the first display of art works collated under the term Outsider Art ever to be shown at Tate Britain. The display celebrates the gift by Monika Kinley of the records of the Musgrave Kinley Outsider Art Trust to the Tate Archive in 2003, and features more than twenty works lent by the Trust through the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA), Dublin.

The term Outsider Art was first used as the title to the writer and lecturer Roger Cardinal’s famous book published in 1972. It was later used by gallerist and collector, Victor Musgrave and Roger Cardinal for an exhibition at the Hayward Gallery in 1979 by which time the term was in common usage. Outsider Art encompasses individuals who belong to no movement or school, who are mainly self taught, have no knowledge of other art or artists and are adept at exploring their own psyche. The Surrealists were among the earliest admirers of such artists, but it was the French artist Jean Dubuffet who first outlined criteria for what he termed Art Brut (Raw Art) in 1945; an art without precedent.

Featured in the display are choice examples from the Outsider Art Collection, formed by Musgrave and Kinley, which is currently on long-term loan to IMMA. Key British exponents on show include Madge Gill, who began producing intricate ink drawings claiming inspiration from a spirit guide called Myrninerest; Scottie Wilson, who began drawing aged forty whilst running a junk shop in Canada; Perifimou, formerly a gallery assistant at Tate; Pearl Alcock, born in Jamaica and now living in Brixton; and Chris Hipkiss, who used his local village hall in order to be able view his large works in their entirety.  Fashioned out of inner visions from a multitude of materials, the human condition is laid bare by these and the other artists on display.

To accompany the works, examples from the wealth of archival material donated by the Trust can be seen on an interactive touchscreen in the room. Visitors can explore an interactive map of Outsider Art and artists not only to trace the derivation of works in the Collection and the location of important Outsider environments, but also to follow Victor and Monika’s orphic journeys.