World Mental Health Day 2015

World Mental Health Day 2015

“What goes up must come down.” An Isaac Newton quote hijack to mark World Mental Health Day. The reverse is also true!

The Fine Line Project team have been very busy – too busy perhaps – managing their other lives… and this site has been neglected but not forgotten. In the absence of a more extensive post for such an important day, we are publishing some images and just a few words.

Emma Boden cannet stairway 2015-09-08 15.48.25_wmA staircase to illustrate Isaac Newton’s quote and more specifically progress in mental health and mental health awareness. On a personal level, one step at a time is how we can all manage even if it must sometimes be one step forwards and two steps back. Up and down the stairs. Taking the step is what counts.

There are also the small steps in building mental health awareness, understanding and a compassionate approach that we can all strive for. Reach out and talk about mental health today and every day, help to resolve the stigma associated with mental health, because mental health affects us all. There should be no separation between mental and physical health; they go hand in hand.

Whether you’re talking about your own issues or touching base with someone else, you don’t have to be an expert to be involved in the conversation. Take someone else by the hand – if needs be the communication can be silent.

Let’s all take this small step every day. Let’s take it together.

Photography: © Emma Boden / The Fine Line Project 2015

Exhibition Review: Art and Soul ‘Expressions’

ASTreeofRecoveryc_resize

Art & Soul group work – Tree of Recovery

This uplifting show, curated by Mark de Novellis and displayed in the Stables Gallery, within the beautiful grounds of Orleans House in Twickenham, runs for 2 more weeks. Art & Soul’s ‘Expressions’ is well worth a visit, showcasing a selection of around 100 artworks by independent artists, with most pieces for sale, some for as little as £20.

TurquoiseCatAnnEDoneganc_resize

Ann E Donegan – Turquoise Cat

JimFullerTheCreaturec_resize

Jim Fuller – The Creature

MoiraMorrisonMonetsGardenc_resize

Moira Morrison – Monet’s Garden

JohnBosherColourfulFlowersc_resize

John Bosher – Colourful Flowers

GeorgeBoxleyRecoveryOnec_resize

George Boxley – Recovery One

A number of the works are remarkably accomplished in the traditional sense, others are imbued with a naïf feel which renders them just as desirable, yet more are plucked straight from their creator’s imagination, raw, unadulterated and compelling – all are full of ‘Expressions’. This is creativity unleashed. As Pablo Picasso said “It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.” Much of the art on display is refreshingly free from the self-consciousness and strictures which tend to weigh down works destined for more formal galleries and art settings. All credit due to the talented individual creators, and also to the Art & Soul coordinators and volunteers as well as Julia Ruppert, an art therapist who facilitates the sessions, offering extra support where required. As Julia said: “By focussing on process rather than product, we look at removing the pressure to “make art”, encouraging the group to re-discover the stress-releasing properties of the creative process and engage in flow.”

SimonRaymondTreeofGoodandEvilc_resize

Simon Raymond – Tree of Good and Evil

AshaChoudhuryChurchPaintingc_resize

Asha Choudhury – Church Painting

WinAldousFantasyFernsc_resize

Win Aldous – Fantasy Ferns

This ethos is reflected in one of the empowering quotes on the Art & Soul website: “Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things” – Ray Bradbury.

HealtherPayneDaffodilsc_resize

Heather Payne – Daffodils

ChrisWallisSunsetc_resize

Chris Wallis – Sunset

NickFareyArvoPaintc_resize

Nick Farey – Arvo Paint

AlexGajowniczekSeascapec_resize

Alex Gajowniczek – Seascape

RayHeathFlowerShowc_resize

Ray Heath – Flower Show

   Essentially Art & Soul seems to invite members of the group to relax, to have fun, to explore and to feel engaged. Creating something special appears to be the end result, the icing on the cake and the material for this show.

StephenJGrahamNoc_resize

Stephen J Graham – No

ItsaWhigImmaMaddoxc

Imma Maddox – It’s a Whig

JaneHorscroftTheRoadtoUnderstandingc_resize

Jane Horscroft – The Road to Understanding

As one of the artists, also a film maker said: “Art & Soul is a great chance to connect to art and lose yourself in that space. It doesn’t matter what that space is specifically – you get to talk about and explore your creativity as well as build on your skills.” Members, who meet once a week, range in age from 20 to 80 and come from all walks of life.

ArtSoulOpeningc_resize

The Mayor of Richmond, Councillor Meena Bond opening the show

Richmond Mayor Councillor Meena Bond, who officially opened the exhibition in April said: “Art & Soul’s ‘Expressions’ is incredibly inspiring, so much so in fact that I’m going to buy a piece!”

 One of the most interesting narrative pieces, was the Art & Soul group work (shown in full, top), ‘The Tree of Recovery’, not for sale, a powerful graphic collaboration using collage and words.

ASTreeofRecoveryDc_resize

Art & Soul group – Tree of Recovery – detail

ASTreeofRecoverExp_resize

FaziaKahnAbstractPatternc_resize

Fazia Kahn – Abstract Pattern

The show is wonderfully diverse, with paintings, paper, textile hangings and 3-D objets. This year it has been dedicated to the memory of Nick Farey – a regular Art & Soul member who sadly passed away in 2013. Folk duo Franklin and multi-talented musician and artist Jun entertained guests at the busy opening which was organised and run by volunteers alongside staff from Orleans House Gallery.

IanLeeksSunsetinParisc_resize

Ian Leeks Sunset in Paris

MariaAngelJacksonThroughtheWindowc_resize

Maria Angel Jackson – Through the Window

With many thanks to photographer Roger Hutchins for the pictures. If you’re in the Richmond / Twickenham / Kingston area make sure you pay a visit and perhaps even invest in one of the works. You would make the artist’s day and what’s more, you might be buying a future ‘Picasso’!

CaraLeesAfricanMaskc

Cara Lees – African Mask

JamesHatfieldStillLifewithBlueJugc

James Hatfield – Still Life with Blue Jug

Expressions runs until June 29th at the Stables, Orleans House Gallery, Riverside, Twickenham, TW1 3DJ. Opening hours: Tuesday – Saturday 1:00 – 5:30; Sunday 2:00- 5:30. Admission is free.

Art & Soul is a member-led organisation of artists from the Richmond Borough and south west London area. Over the last 16 years, the group has promoted and celebrated mental and emotional wellbeing through its biennial exhibitions and art workshops. This vital organisation continues to thrive with funding from Richmond Borough’s Orleans House Gallery and, this year, a grant from the Time to Change campaign, run collaboratively by Rethink Mental Illness and Mind. These are both charities that The Fine Line Project has supported in the past – our first fundraiser was in fact for Richmond Mind who are actively involved with Art & Soul and had a group artwork (below) on display in the show.

Graffitigroup_resize

Group work: Graffiti by Ben Rise, Chris Garner, Dean Johnstone, David Blanch, John Henry Nemeth, Karl Micholdson, Kevin Archer, Naser Miscony and Nimalisi Fernando

Find out more about Art & Soul from their website and blog.

WhysoSeriousJonathanGilbertc

Jonathan Gilbert – Why So Serious?

Text © Emma Boden for The Fine Line Project – Photography © Roger Hutchins – you’re welcome to share the content on these pages provided that you name check and link back to The Fine Line Project. Thank you!

Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

Mayor of Camden Rethink Cheque Handover

We’re still in recovery from the Ralph’s Life CD launch, bowled over by the quality of the artists and their sounds and there are a few standout tunes that keep spinning round in our heads – love that!

Let’s hear it one more time for the launch gig artists: Snippet, Debs McCoy, Ambrose Chappel, Plum, Samuel Simmons, Mono Life, Ded Rabbit, Twin Hidden, Stillia, Titors Insignia, Culann, Elia and The Low Tears and Feral Five. We’re looking forward to reviewing some of their music over the next few weeks and publishing gig photos by Patrick Barthès.

Patrick’s just sent through a couple of shots of the Mayor of Camden, Councillor Jonathan Simpson, handing over the first donation cheque of £2500 to Rethink Mental Illness and with our signed poster in one of Proud Camden’s funked up stables – awesome pic!

PatrickBarthesTFLPRethinkM

Don’t forget that The Ralph’s Life CDs are now available online – wherever you are make sure you buy at least one here – £12 inc UK delivery and tell all your friends! Here’s the full list of artists, all paw picked by Ralph, and their 40 fantastic tracks, with all proceeds going to Rethink Mental Illness:

Ambrose Chappel – Pick It Up ( ft. iKashflo)
Culann – Jerusalem
Debs McCoy – Wendy
Elia and The Low Tears – Sweet Lies
Fat Goth – Creepy Lounge
Feral Five – Skin
Fiona Soe Paing – Daymoon Sun (with thanks to BBC Radiophonic Workshop’s Daphne Oram Trust for permission to use the sample on this track)
Graham Marshall – Freedom Call
Great Reckoning – Bleed For Your Life
Have Mercy Las Vegas – Pappy
Helen McCookerybook – Monday’s Mood
Jess Harwood – Feeling Fine
King And Queen Of Sorry – (Couldn’t Get) High Enough
Matthew Hidden – A Berry Bursts
Mog Stanley – Mind Games
Mono Life – Disco In Paris
Plum – Casting Shadows
Pumajaw – Mask
Robb Murphy – Never Letting You Go
Shiny Rhino – I Love My Radio
Snippet – Celebration
Steve Heron – Eleanor
Stillia – You Only Live Once
Tea Street Band – Push The Feeling On (Tom Eno Remix)
The Bedroom Hour – X Marks The Spot
The Fireflys – Hummingbird
The Folk Remedy – Sirens
The Low Countries – At The End Of The Day
The Mutineers – Tell Me Why
The Ninth Watch – Forever’s a Long Time
The Travelling Band – Took My Soul
The Varese’s – Spotlight
Tingle In The Netherlands – Prostitute’s Handbag
TiTORS iNSiGNia – Beg, Plead And Pray
Tom Robinson – The Mighty Sword Of Justice
Velocets – Secrets
Vukovi – Schwagger
We Came From The Sea – Animalskin
Whispery Club – The Boy
Wullae Wright (prod. by Ambrose Chappel) – Fight Or Flight

Listen to some sample tracks here.

Keep an eye on the Ralph’s Life music blog for further announcements including money raised from the launch gig and future plans.

Let’s keep talking about mental health, and music and creativity. Please follow us here and on Facebook and Twitter and help spread the word. We’ll also be announcing our next event soon!

PatrickBarthesTFLPRethinkcp

Rethink Mental Illness CD Launch Camden

We enjoyed 12 hours of standout talent at the Ralph’s Life CD launch on Sunday. Hats off to all the artists who performed and a special mention for Samuel Simmons and Sisteray – the former for standing in for a missing band at the last minute and some of the finest singing on the day, and the latter for not getting a chance to sing or play with no thanks to the person who accidentally lifted some vital kit thus preventing them from performing. We were all so looking forward to the headline act but Londoners, you get a second chance – don’t miss Sisteray’s next gig, this Saturday 8th. Check their site for more info and other upcoming events.

Big thanks to the Mayor of Camden, councillor Jonathan Simpson for his pitch perfect speech and safe handover of the £2500 presentation cheque to Rethink Mental Illness – the real funds have been digitally delivered and there will be more from Ralph.

TheFineLineProjectSignedRalphPoster

Thanks to Dave at theonlinefestival.com for all his support and the formidable (with a French accent please) RKC team headed by Jérôme who broadcast live from the venue and managed to get the Ralph’s CD aired in between acts – bravo! Three cheers to the Proud Camden team on the day especially the 2 ace multi-tasking sound engineers.

We are grateful to our own little team of volunteers – Grace, Samir, Billy and George – who worked the room for cash donations for Rethink and helped get the longest list of artists we’ve had to date to sign a single poster (2 actually) – we asked the ever generous Fine Art Solutions to print extra large versions for the occasion. The signed posters will be auctioned at a later date.

Here’s a shoutout for everyone who attended, donated and promoted the show in their own way – thank you for your support which is much appreciated.

Last but by no means least, thanks to Mike Lindley aka Ralph and Lynn for pulling the whole show together – crowdfunder, CD and the launch gig – a bit of a roller coaster ride… Keep an eye on the Ralph’s Life blog for an announcement on monies raised and future plans.

Meanwhile we urge you, not for the first time nor the last, to buy one of the brilliant CDs featuring most of the artists from the 2nd March gig and a whole load of other talent, 40 fantastic indie tracks with all proceeds going to Rethink Mental Illness. Find out who donated tracks here

and listen to some sample tracks here.

To follow, with big thanks for his ongoing support for The Fine Line Project, some amazing photos by Patrick Barthès – trust us, they’ll be worth the wait. We’ll also be posting some CD reviews featuring acts from this truly epic day.

One more shoutout for the artists and bands that performed, some seriously great sounds – check them out:

Snippet, Debs McCoy, Ambrose Chappel, Plum, Samuel Simmons, Mono Life, Ded Rabbit, Twin Hidden, Stillia, Titors Insignia, Culann, Elia and The Low Tears and Feral Five.

Thanks again folks and let’s all keep talking about mental health, and music and creativity! Follow us here and on Facebook and Twitter and help spread the word.

Ralph’s Life: Donation and Camden Gig News

Here’s the latest news on the Ralph’s Life fundraising campaign and the forthcoming CD launch.

Ralph’s master, music blogger Mike Lindley is poised to present the first donation cheque to Rethink Mental Illness, a massive £2500, part of the funds raised during the crowdfunding campaign which closed on 3rd January. Our friend Patrick has prepared a swishy presentation version of the cheque which features the names of all the artists and bands that donated tracks to the forthcoming Ralph’s Life CD – 40 acts in total. This whole campaign has also been supported by the fabulous team at Radio Kaos Caribou and countless good people from the music community and beyond, both on and offline. We thank you all again. Take a look at our cheque (click on the image below for a full screen view), which also features Wullae Wright’s cute Ralph artwork.

TheFineLineProjectchequeRalph2

The cheque will be handed over to Rethink Mental Illness at the forthcoming Proud Camden, London fundraising gig on 2nd March. We’re hoping the local mayor will be present along with some other exciting guests.

Order your tickets today!

The all day gig, which will celebrate the launch of the CD, runs from 12 noon to 12 midnight. The line up includes 12 of the acts that feature on the Ralph’s Life CD:

Twin Hidden
Snippet
Debs McCoy
Ambrose Chappel
Mono Life
Plum
Titors Insignia
Stillia
Culann
The Bedroom Hour
Feral Five
Elia and The Low Tears

with new supporters Ded Rabbit, and local band Sisteray in the headline spot.

We’re pretty sure that Radio Kaos Caribou will be over to record and potentially broadcast the show on the day.

This is certainly going to be an unmissable event, so much talent all on one stage and 14 bands for a mere tenner – a total bargain too – with every penny going to a good cause. Needless to say charity CDs will be for sale at the gig. If you can’t make it to Camden, we’ve posted a link to buy the double album below so, wherever you are, you can still help Ralph and us to raise yet more for this crucial cause. Join us in supporting mental health awareness. All proceeds from the gig and the CD are going to Rethink Mental Illness.

Pre-order Ralph’s Life Charity CD – £12 inc UK delivery.

Thanks for spreading the word!

Our Very First CD, with Ralph’s Life!

2014 is off to a mighty fine start for The Fine Line Project and friends, in particular Ralph, rock dog supreme. If you’re new to this blog, Ralph is a Jack Russell whose master Mike runs a popular Indie music blog and a weekly show on Radio Kaos Caribou, also a big supporter of ours. Ralph spent his Christmas and New Year leashed to Twitter, Facebook and an online crowdfunding project to raise money for a CD in aid of mental health charity Rethink Mental Illness. You can read more about that in our last blog, including a full track listing – 40 brilliant artists have donated their sounds to the project.

Ralph Fine Line Project Rethink CD cover

If you haven’t come across a crowdfunder before, it’s basically an all or nothing situation. Either you raise your cash in the allotted time or you don’t get a penny.  So things were a wee bit tense down at Ralph’s kennel on 2 January, as the 11th hour drew in and the money was still short. Thanks to an epic (this is definitely the right word) number of Tweets, including Christmas messages and personal appeals to every single one of some 5000 followers, and a rather sleepless night (we set alarms to follow the action from down South, at least we got some sleep), Mike managed to pull it off at the very last minute, topping his target of £5000 by an extra £120 on 3 January around 9 in the morning.

WOW! £5120 almost all thanks to the power of music and creative people who’ve supported this cause on Twitter, supplemented by a crowd of well wishers from further afield.

Some of that total will be wagging its way straight off to the charity – look  out for a swishy presentation cheque, currently being designed – while the rest will fund the CD and a launch gig in London, with ticket sales once again donated to Rethink.

*** We’ve always maintained that it’s not just about the money – awareness goes hand in hand with fundraising and we reckon generates much bigger and better things. The Ralph’s Life CD fundraiser has achieved way more than £5K+ in donations over the last few weeks. Forty fantastic artists have pledged their beautiful music and have lent their voices to a small campaign with a massive impact, hundreds and collectively thousands more have shown their support through Twitter, Facebook and via blogs and radio stations across the land and way beyond – lots of other countries joined in – with everyone united for one cause: talking about and raising money for mental health awareness and helping to counter the stigma which so often accompanies mental illness. ***

A lot of fun was also had along the way, especially in the build up to Christmas and New Year with extra music tracks donated, CDs, downloads, restaurant meals, artwork, T-shirts, cocktail recipes, special cassettes, knitted owls (we so wanted one!), poems, guitars, airtime, blog space, newspaper articles, interviews, RTs, MTs, SOs, future promises of support and so much more – it’s been an incredibly creative campaign all round.

One of our favourite things – listen to the RKC jingle:

Hats off to everyone who supported the cause and made such a big noise helping Ralph to achieve his goal with special thanks to RKC / Radio Kaos Caribou!

This is just the beginning of course…  Ralph’s master is now rather busy sorting the 240+ pledges from the crowdfunder, organising production of the 40 track CD and preparing for the London launch, a 14 band all day gig at Proud in Camden. We’re helping as much as we can. Whether you’ve been supporting this campaign all along or have just joined the ride, please help us too – let’s take this to the next level.

Support and Follow:

@fruitbatwalton (that’s Ralph) and @FineLineProject on Twitter, Ralph’s Mental Health Awareness Page on Facebook, The Fine Line Project on Facebook and please spread the word about the launch gig. Here’s the Facebook event page for that and here’s the crucial link:

2 MARCH 2014 – RALPH’S LIFE CD LAUNCH NIGHT TICKET LINK

The Proud Camden gig is due to feature 13 of the bands from the CD and one local guest band –that’s 14 bands, all for a mere £10 and with all proceeds to Rethink:

If you can’t make it to the gig, please keep an eye out for the CD – we’ll need your help to sell all the copies and raise even more money for Rethink.

Once again folks, THANK YOU!

Crowd Funding Campaign: Music Supporting Mental Health Awareness

Today’s the big day! Ralph’s Life has launched a 6 week crowd funding campaign to produce a charity CD featuring 40 brilliant tracks by (mainly) Indie artistes. We know they’re all brilliant because we did a mega micro-review session on Twitter covering every single number during a special show courtesy of the fantastic Radio Kaos Caribou a few days ago.

Wullae Wright, one of the talented contributors to the double album has created some stunning artwork featuring all the artistes’ names and the one and only Ralph, of course. Plans are afoot (apaw?) to get some prints made.

Wullae Wright for #RalFLP

The support for this great music project has so far been phenomenal and now’s the time to turn up the volume by sharing the story with as many people as you can. We want to raise as much awareness and money as possible. Every penny raised will go to charity Rethink Mental Illness – although they’re UK based their reach is global. Rethink also run ground-breaking campaigns like Time To Change with Mind Charity making a direct impact on how mental illness is viewed, discussed and managed at every level. It really is Time To Talk about mental health – this should be in the same breath as physical health – the two go hand in hand after all.

A couple of other artists are donating proceeds from their latest track sales over the next 6 weeks. Check this epic number by Graham Marshall whose track will feature on the double CD and this beautiful song by his friend Jane Allison.

To listen to some of the tracks on Ralph’s Life double album check out The Fine Line Project on Soundcloud.

The most crucial link of all, here is Ralph’s Life’s Charity Music CD’s Crowdfunding page – please make a pledge today (from as little as £1) and ask all your friends, family and work colleagues to get involved with this important cause. Mental health issues affect 1 in 4 worldwide – none of us can afford to be complacent. Let’s all help to bring about some change today.

We thank you in advance for spreading the good word and the great music!

Ralph’s Life Fundraising CD

It’s been a busy week for Ralph, top dog on the Indie music scene. He’s now managed to secure a grand total of 40 brilliant tracks for The Fine Line Project / Rethink fundraising CD with graphic design work donated by Simon Meakin and SCG Advertising. You can listen to all of the artistes’ tracks on Ralph’s special show on RKC / Radio Kaos Caribou tonight at 9pm GMT and tune in to some of them talking about this amazing project.

Ralph Fine Line Project Rethink CD cover

Later this week Ralph will be setting up some crowdfunding links for supporters to make pledges and get their paws on this incredible double CD, loaded with supreme sounds. Here’s a list of all the generous artistes who’ve contributed tracks to this project, in alphabetical order and with our BIGGEST thanks:

Ambrose Chappel – Pick It Up ( ft. iKashflo)
Culann – Jerusalem
Debs McCoy – Wendy
Elia and The Low Tears – Sweet Lies
Fat Goth – Creepy Lounge
Feral Five – Skin
Fiona Soe Paing – Daymoon Sun With thanks to the BBC Radiophonic Workshop’s Daphne Oram Trust who gave permission for the sample on this track
Graham Marshall – Freedom Call
Great Reckoning – Bleed For Your Life
Have Mercy Las Vegas – Pappy
Helen McCookerybook – Monday’s Mood
Jess Harwood – Feeling Fine
King And Queen Of Sorry – (Couldn’t Get) High Enough (track TBC)
Matthew Hidden – A Berry Bursts
Mog Stanley – Devil In My Head (track TBC)
Mono Life – Disco In Paris
Plum – Casting Shadows
Pumajaw – Mask
Robb Murphy – Never Letting You Go
Shiny Rhino – I Love My Radio
Snippet – Celebration
Steve Heron – Eleanor
Stillia – You Only Live Once
Tea Street Band – Push The Feeling On (Tom Eno Remix)
The Bedroom Hour – X Marks The Spot
The Fireflys – Hummingbird
The Folk Remedy – Sirens
The Low Countries – At The End Of The Day
The Mutineers – Tell Me Why
The Ninth Watch – Forever’s a Long Time
The Travelling Band – Took My Soul
The Varese’s – Spotlight
Tingle In The Netherlands – Prostitute’s Handbag
TiTORS iNSiGNia – Beg, Plead And Pray
Tom Robinson – The Mighty Sword Of Justice
Velocets – Secrets
Vukovi – Schwagger
We Came From The Sea – Animalskin
Whispery Club – The Boy
Wullae Wright (prod. by Ambrose Chappel) – Fight Or Flight

There have also been donations for the pledges from The Dogs in Edinburgh and Food by Jonny Marsh in Manchester. Every single penny raised will be going to support Rethink Mental Illness.

Big thanks to the acts who’ve been bigging this story up on Twitter – we’ll tag you all as we progress through this project.

We’re particularly grateful to Graham Marshall who, as well as donating a track to the CD, is pledging his fee from his next gig and all proceeds from the independent sales of his track to the cause. Go check him out live in London on the 5th December at Cecil Sharp House if you can. Here’s his track, Freedom Call (buy it now! All funds to Rethink) and here’s a little sneak preview, The Mighty Sword of Justice by the legendary Tom Robinson, both to feature on Ralph’s CD. To hear the rest, don’t forget to tune into RKC tonight at 9 – click on their logo below for access. There’ll be more news from us and the heroic Ralph soon.

RKC logo

Art Exhibition Review – Madge Gill: Medium and Visionary – Orleans House Gallery

To mark today’s World Mental Health Day, which focuses this year on older adults, we’re posting a review of last night’s opening of Madge Gill: Medium and Visionary at Orleans House Gallery in Twickenham.

Madge Gill Invitation Illustration Henry-Boxer-Gallery

This exhibition brings together some 100 artworks together with supporting documents and photographs providing the most comprehensive overview of Gill’s work to date. Further information is supplied in an excellent catalogue compiled and edited by Mark de Novellis, who has curated this fascinating show alongside Henry Boxer, Roger Cardinal and Vivienne Roberts, all of whom have contributed to the publication.

From 1919 Gill produced works in various media, including knitting, embroidery, rug-making, and drawing in inks – this last proving her richest vein and being the main focus for the exhibition. Her output was achieved over a forty year period, with the most prolific phase taking place in the 1950s.

It is fitting to start with Madge Gill’s own words: “It was in 1919 when I first started my work. I then had an inspiration to take up my pen and do all kinds of works of an artistic type. I felt that I had an artistic faculty seeking expression. It took various forms. First of all, knitting – even without any pattern. Then came a flow of all kinds of inspirational writing, mostly Biblical.

madge gill floral abstract_resizeThen I felt impelled to execute drawings on a large scale on calico. I simply couldn’t leave it and I did on average 20 pictures a week, all in colour. All the time I was in quite a normal state of mind and there was no suggestion of a ‘spirit’ standing beside me. I simply felt inspired. Sometimes I would be dissatisfied with the work and tear it up or burn it. But I felt I was definitely guided by an unseen force, though I could not say what its actual nature was. “  Extract from an interview in Prediction Magazine, 1937.

Madge Gill 151 Black ink on board Abstract circle 20 24 inchesFor Outsider artists more often than not the creative process is an internal exploration. Gill later spoke of hearing voices throughout her life and of the spirit which propelled her creative urges, known as Myrninerest. Most of her artwork is unsigned but where it is marked, credit is given solely to her spirit guide. She refused to sell her pieces on the basis that the work didn’t belong to her but to Myrninerest. There is evidence that she was known as a psychic and medium, certainly a visionary in some respects. It has also been suggested that she may have been schizophrenic but no diagnosis was made. She did have a spell in the Lady Chichester Hospital for Women and Children in Hove, an establishment focused on the ‘borderland’ between wellness and ill health, more specifically mental health. Certainly her life, both the traumatic early years and the periods surrounding the stillbirth of her daughter and the death of one of her sons at the age of 8 would suggest that she suffered from depression. Her family as an adult however seemed to accept her as she was, this despite a strained relationship with her husband. In later life her sons supported her and embraced their mother’s strange and often compulsive behaviour, enabling her to continue to produce work until she died in her seventies. By that time she had amassed a couple of thousand artworks, with over 1200 bequeathed by her son Laurie to their local East Ham County Borough Council, now looked after by the London Borough of Newham. Many of these works have been included in this exhibition.

Madge Gill selfportraitMadge Gill was born in 1882 and died in 1961. A short biography, written by Roger Cardinal is available on a website dedicated to her work and life. Cardinal, who is currently working on a full biography, is an acknowledged expert on Gill and more generally on Outsider art, an expression he coined in 1972 when his seminal book of the same name was first published covering what had previously been described as ‘Art Brut’. As Cardinal writes in a comprehensive essay in the exhibition catalogue’s introduction: “Creative inspiration can travel down unsuspected paths and sometimes visits individuals who know nothing of art history and who have little idea of the world of high art frequented by intellectuals, critics , connoisseurs, teachers and cultured enthusiasts. Such individuals need no training and are often satisfied with a minimum of acclaim, for their commitment to personal expression thrives independently of the interest or approval of others. Outsider artists, as they have come to be called, enjoy their idiosyncratic approach to creation and operate with sublime self-assurance, ignoring the beaten track of the art class and the public gallery. Madge Gill was one such exponent of self-justifying and unmonitored art-making, and today long after her death, her reputation as an outstanding example of creative individualism continues to grow. This long overdue retrospective honours her as a rare exemplar of self-reliant artistry.”

Madge Gill Three draped figures in a chequered settingSpeaking at the exhibition opening Cardinal suggested that the presence of a spiritual guide in Gill’s life might have provided the permission she needed to give herself to dedicate most of her time to her art: “She was minded to do it,” he said. He also points out that “Gill’s craftsmanship is characterised by dogged perseverance.” Later on she worked on rolls on canvas that she had no hope of viewing in full in the small room that she worked in at home. At this stage she agreed to exhibit her work publicly perhaps with the sole aim of seeing these large pieces in their entirety. One of these, a monumental pen and ink work on calico entitled The Crucifixion of The Soul, measures 11 metres and is displayed in the Orleans House show.

Madge Gill artwork untitledWhat shines through in this inspiring, extensive yet intimate exhibition, is Gill’s unstinting dedication to making her mark, her obsessive attention to detail and her almost unerring need to cover every centimetre of the surface. A proliferation of faces, watchful eyes, geometric shapes and intense surface decoration permeates almost all the works – a veritable outpouring of creativity. There is a good cross section of monochrome works interspersed with many of her sensitively coloured pieces, displays of her postcards, found in numerous boxes under her bed following her death. The attic and virtually other rooms held more caches.

The arts team at Richmond Upon Thames Borough and the co-curators have created an extraordinary testament to this extraordinary woman. Thanks to a grant from the Wellcome Trust, the Orleans House Gallery exhibition and accompanying catalogue has also enabled new multi-disciplinary research into Madge Gill’s creativity via a team which includes Dr Paul Camic, Professor of Psychology and Public Health and mental health historian Dr Rob Ellis.

MadgeGill abstract blue yellowAs Dr Camic writes: “Wellbeing is not a fixed place that, once we arrive, remains constant. Our wellbeing is something that fluctuates depending on the challenges we face and the resources we can muster. Madge Gill faced an enormous number of challenges in her life. Her art-making can be seen as a kind of comeback to these challenges and appreciated as a creative and life-affirming response to external events and the internal emotional upheaval which they caused. While the meaning and purpose of her art-making was multi-determined and multifaceted, there are two fundamental ways in which it can be psychologically understood; how it helped to form an important element of her resilience and how it was used as a resource that contributed to her fluctuating sense of wellbeing.”

This brings us neatly to another constructive spin off afforded by the Madge Gill retrospective: Richmond Borough’s Art & Soul Project.  Members of this already well-established group have been working on their own pieces, informed and inspired by Gill’s artwork. A section of the space at Orleans House Gallery displays some of their exciting new work. This member led organisation aims to provide a positive framework in which people with mental health issues can express themselves, develop new skills and make a positive contribution using active participation and the group experience to give many a needed boost in self-confidence and self worth during difficult periods in their lives. One might suggest that first and foremost though participation in the project  offers a chance for self-expression and creativity, a compelling sometimes healing life force which Gill’s outstanding and extensive oeuvre amply illustrates.

Review © Emma Boden, Armadillo Central

Text extracts: Madge Gill Medium & Visionary, published by Orleans House Gallery, ISBN 1-902643-17-8

Pictures courtesy of / © : London Borough of Newham Heritage and Archives; Musée de l’Art Brut, Lausanne; Henry Boxer Gallery; De Novellis Collection.

Madge Gill The SpiritualistMadge Gill: Medium & Visionary runs until the 26th January 2014 at Orleans House Gallery, Riverside, Twickenham, TW1 3DJ. Admission is free. Tuesday to Saturday 1pm to 4.30pm; Sunday and Bank Holidays 2pm to 4.30pm.

Find out more about:

Madge Gill

The Art & Soul Project

Madge Gill artwork b

Where’s Strutter? @ The Fine Line Project, Southampton Cellar

WheresStrutterA2310WwmEvery so often you come across a band that’s so great live that you’re left utterly speechless – such is Where’s Strutter? It’s almost three months since they performed for The Fine Line Project at The Cellar in Southampton and we’re still in recovery, still searching for the right words to describe the sheer utter awesomness of their performance.WheresStrutter2350Wwm

The band travelled from Manchester on the day, had a puncture on the way, thus missing their studio session with multi-media magazine St Pauls Lifestyle (which will come later – meanwhile check out previous sessions on their LISTED ARTIST page) yet arrived perfectly chilled and went on to deliver with complete ease the most blistering, hottest set ever. The stage and the venue vanished altogether into the music and the moment.WheresStrutter2352Wwm

From Bones which starts off with a laid back ballady blues vibe, building into an enveloping anthem, peppered by perfect drumming, the signature sound of echoing guitars and utterly confident pitch perfect vocals, and onto other brilliant tracks from their current CD, Where’s Strutter? sure know how to hold their audience’s attention.WheresStrutter2355Wwm

Their music seamlessly crosses genres from hard edged rock into clever little strands of pop, atmospheric passages which transport you altogether elsewhere (was that bit of morse code? check the EP…) and stunning blues, blending unusual sounds into beautiful melodies that are at once new and yet strangely familiar. These guys have it just right – catchy guitar riffs, anthemic choruses, perfect timing, neat lyrics and a fantastic stage presence. If the sign of great artists is the apparent ease with which they demonstrate their talent, Where’s Strutter? have it in arena-loads.WheresStrutter2356Wwm

We’ve been enjoying their EP, Apollo’s Bloom, ever since we got our hands on a copy at the gig. Here’s the track listing:

Bones
Binded By The Sun
Questions (check out the video here)
Back To The End
See You AroundWheresStrutter2359Wwm

Get yourself a copy of this little gem while it’s still available – a bargain at £3.99 – and what’s more get down to their next gig and catch them live in a smaller venue before they become massive. In a few days time they’ll be on stage with another epic band, fronted by the great Pete Doherty. Where’s Strutter? are supporting Babyshambles at Manchester Academy on 7th September – so wish we were in town for that one!WheresStrutter2360WwmWheresStrutter2347WwmWheresStrutter2346Wwm

Where’s Strutter? features Patrick Neville, Lee Broadbent, Dan Green and Josh Leach. With the biggest thanks for their appearance at The Fine Line Project’s Rethink Benefit. Thanks also to Steve Maynard for all the great photos, St Pauls Lifestyle for their amazing ongoing support – take a look at our LISTED ARTIST pages on their site – and The Cellar Southampton, such a great venue.