Archive for madge gill

Step into Outsider Art

Posted in ART, ART HISTORY with tags , , , , , on July 25, 2010 by echostains


I’ve always been fascinated by outsider art.  My interest began through exploration into Surrealism and then the art of the subconscious.  The expression ‘Outsider’ art was first coined by Roger Cardinal, a British writer.  It was the English equivalent for the term Art Brut, originally formulated in the 1940s by the French artist Jean Dubuffet.

Madge Gill ink drawing

Some think of outsider art as dysfunctional art: art that is outside the boundaries of by dominant culture.  My interest in Outsider art began with artists such as Madge Gill (1882 – 1961), Austin O Spare who used automatism to produce work that they claimed to come from the spirit world.

Gill, a British housewife turned spiritualist after the tragic deaths of her children.  She produced a lot of ink drawings whilst in a trance like state among other works like knitted objects (see this post).  Austin Osman Spare also used automatic techniques to produce spontaneous work.

Austin Osman Spare self portrait with dragon

Ody Saban

Multi media artist Ody Saban (b. 1953 Istanbul) produces controlled yet spontaneous work which are very colourful and intricate;

“My art is a magic art.  I am a shaman, a seer.  I am in continual metamorphosis….I transform myself”

Sometimes the detail and concentration used to make these works is phenomenal.  Adolf Wolfii was one of the first artists to become associated with outsider art.  he had led a very troubled childhood and ended in an asylum.

London North 1911 Adolf Wolfii

He produces lots of creative work in his lifetime.  A doctor at the Waldau clinic, Walter Morgenthaler took a great interest in Wölfli, his condition and his work and brought him to the attention of the art world; –

“Every Monday morning Wölfli is given a new pencil and two large sheets of unprinted newsprint. The pencil is used up in two days; then he has to make do with the stubs he has saved or with whatever he can beg off someone else. He often writes with pieces only five to seven millimetres long and even with the broken-off points of lead, which he handles deftly, holding them between his fingernails. He carefully collects packing paper and any other paper he can get from the guards and patients in his area; otherwise he would run out of paper before the next Sunday night. At Christmas the house gives him a box of coloured pencils, which lasts him two or three weeks at the most.”

His work is very intricate and intense and passionate and it is easy to see that the artist turned inwards to his own world.  he never planned the work he just went ahead and created it.  There have been lots written about this artist – here’s a short description of the artist and his work.  I shall be continuing with some more Outsider artists in my blog.

Gill image from here Saban image from here  O Spare image from here Wolfii image from here
Theres a good blog about this art form here

Is there anybody actually there? or is that just a blot on the landscape?

Posted in ART, ART HISTORY with tags , , , , , , , , on January 11, 2009 by echostains





In was in pursuit of researching artist’s who used automatism to express themselves,  I came across Austin Osman Spare (see   page 4 altered book: a matter of Life or Death‘) .  Following  Breton’s and Ernst’s lead, several artist’s applied automatic techniques to produce works.  Andre Masson forced himself to work under the influence of drugs, lack of food or sleep.







Alexander Cozens, an English watercolourist stimulated his imagination by using accidental blobs on paper to suggest abstract forms. 







British housewife Madge Gill (1882 -1961) became interested in spiritualism when two of her children died tragically, and she lost an eye through illness.  From 1919 she produced hundreds of ink drawings whilst in a trance like state – directed by her spirit guide Myrninerest.  Her drawings ranged from postcard size to 20 ft wide.  Her  work  included ‘spiritual or inspirational’ drawings, writings and singing, inspired piano playing, making knitted woollen clothes and weaving silk mats.







British painter Georgina Houghton gave up conventional art because of grief at the death of her sister, and began to produce ‘spirit drawings’ using coloured pencils, watercolours and inks.  Examples of her works are preserved in the Victorian Spiritualists Union in Melbourne.  They feature all over dynamic linear meshes of coloured spirels, vortexes and arabesques in which figure and ground are indistiguishable.  They have been claimed as the earliest abstract pictures.

I really must get back to my altered book.  It’s more difficult now my scanner has broken though, photographs are very hit and miss.