THE onset of the latest COVID-19 restrictions proved heartbreaking for two “outsider artists” who were looking forward to staging a joint exhibition at & Gallery, Sorrento.
The outsider artists – or artists with disabilities – Robert Croft and Jonathan Thompson had been working hard to prepare works for the exhibition which closed just one day after being open to the public. Neither got to see their works on display.
“The gallery is looking at its calendar of future exhibitions with a view to shifting dates so this exhibition can be extended and the opening event can be held when safe to do so,” & Gallery director Julie Collins said.
“The opening will also feature music by the band Croake, of which Robert is a member, so we all hope we are able to hold the opening at some stage.
“A catalogue is available with all works for sale and we hope these amazing works find their way into private and public collections. It would be great if the federal-government-supported Art Bank and backed more outsider artists by collecting them.”
Ms Collins said she visited artist Mark Cuthbertson’s studio late last year where she came across the artists’ work. “As mentor to both artists, Mark has allowed Robert to express himself on a larger scale, and give Jonathan the opportunity to explore more sculptural materials and possibilities,” she said.
Ms Collins said that as outsider artists, their creativity is “unrestrained, a display of delight that is honest, raw, unfiltered, and joyous”.
She said Croft gave a tactile quality to his work. “No matter what medium he uses, [he] delights in the colour, texture, and rhythm of application.
“The layers of colour and texture [he] achieves through his processes demonstrate the instinctual nature of this Artist.
“An industrious worker, Robert draws reference from still life and the printed image; but mainly and most effectively, his inspiration comes from the pure joy of creating.”
Ms Collins said Thompson had 20 years’ experience working across a variety of mediums and techniques. “Drawing inspiration from the everyday, from family, friends and online, he redefines and reshapes his ideas, through his unique processes. Jonathan creates art that seeks to question and provoke a response from the viewer.”
She said & Gallery was “honoured to be able to showcase their work to a wider audience, giving them the opportunity to be acknowledged for their commitment to their creativity.”
The exhibition is now continuing until 23 August and is open 7 days per week.