Outsider Art

Outsider art is used to describe art that has a naive quality, often produced by people who have not trained as artists or worked within the conventional structures of art production.

Tate art terms

The term ‘Outsider Art’ seems to have become the accepted terminology in which to describe the creative artworks and practices of people untrained in either the fine arts and/or its academic and theoretical concepts.  This would be inclusive of crafters, folk art, Brut art and naive art.  Historically outsider art has often been synonymously and negatively associated with the mentally ill and eccentricity.  Yet this year, 2020, appears to be the year that outsider art has risen to a new high global creative platforms where their work is as respected and acclaimed as there professional counterparts.

With the advent of the global Corona Virus (aka Covid-19) at the beginning of this year much of the world has been in home based isolated lockdowns and/or heavily restrictive laws, albeit temporary laws, minimising social contact outside of the home.   During this time it has be shown through digital data that there have been sharp increases in online shopping.  One area of increase has been the arts and crafts retail sites.  Online search engines show that greater numbers of users are searching for sites connected to the arts and creative communities are flourishing with new art based enterprises being created and launched frequently.  It would seem a more positive and respectful attitude for outsider artists has grown out of the trauma of the Covid-19 pandemic.

One of the new art enterprises launched is the free online gallery Spongleheim, founded by outsider artist Steve Chapman.  A virtual gallery space created by an outsider artist for outsider artists.

Chapman at the beginning of the British lockdown in March of this year initially started posting daily drawings on to his Instagram account.  His work generated increasing interest and popularity and with this growth Chapman started developing a new initiative to create a virtual gallery space for all artists, irrelevant of there educational backgrounds, to submit work to and potentially exhibit.

The premise is simple.  Chapman via the Spongleheim web site puts a call out for artists to send their work via email to the web site.  On closure of the submission date the artworks are then considered by a panel of their peers.  The panel is a small group chosen randomly and unknown to each other or the artists.  Once selection has taken place the artists are informed and there art works are collective exhibited in the on line gallery for a set date.  Each exhibition has its own head line name.  Once the artwork is exhibited and online anyone interested in a artwork contacts the artist directly through the Spongleheim website.  Spongleheim is a free site with no charges for the buying or selling of artworks.  The first exhibition entitled ‘It’ was launched on the 1st of September and ran to the 21st of September of this year.  The second exhibition entitled ‘NORMAL’ recently finished but ran from the 1st of December till the 21st of December.  The next exhibition is set for the 1st of March, 2021 and is entitled ‘FAC3’.  Currently Spongleheim has a new call for artists for submission of artwork for upcoming exhibitions.

To access Spongleheim website please view the website details below: www.spongleheim.com (https://www.spongleheim.com/gallery)

For further information and access regarding Steve Chapman and/or the Spongleheim Gallery see below:

  • Steve Chapman (2020) Spongleheim Gallery. Available at: https://www.spongleheim.com/gallery (Accessed 21 December 2020)
  • Steve Chapman (2020) Spongleheim Gallery Instagram. Available at: https://www.instagram.com/spongleheim/ (Accessed: 21 December 2020)
  • Steve Chapman (2020) THE SPONGLEHEIM GALLERY TWITTER. Available at: https://mobile.twitter.com/spongleheim (Accessed: 21 December 2020)
  • Steve Chapman (2020) The Spongleheim Gallery Facebook. Available at: https://m.facebook.com/spongleheim/ Accessed: 21 December 2020)
  • Inspiring City (2020) Spongleheim Gallery Opens Online for Outsider Artists. Available at: https://www.inspiringcity.com/2020/09/01/spongleheim-gallery-opens-online-for-outsider-artists/amp/ (Accessed: 21 December 2020)
  • Inspiring City (2019) Steve Chapman Conversation with an Outsider Artist. Available at: https://www.inspiringcity.com/2019/06/24/steve-chapman-conversation-with-an-outsider-artist/ (Accessed: 21 December 2020)
  • Steve Chapman (2020) Can Scorpions Smoke. Available at: https://www.canscorpionssmoke.com (Accessed: 21 December 2020)
  • Image references:
  • Image One: Alfred Wallis (2020) Alfred Wallis St Ives c. 1928 Tate. Available at: https://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/o/outsider-art (Accessed: 21 December 2020)
  • Image Two: Steve Chapman (2020) Spongleheim Gallery Logo. Available at: https://www.spongleheim.com/gallery (Accessed: 21 December 2020)
  • Image Three: Inspiring City (2019) Steve Chapman Conversation with an Outsider Artist. Available at: https://www.inspiringcity.com/2019/06/24/steve-chapman-conversation-with-an-outsider-artist/ (Accessed: 21 December 2020)
  • Image Four: Steve Chapman (2020) Spongleheim Gallery Exhibition Poster. Available at: https://www.spongleheim.com/gallery (Accessed: 21 December 2020)

For further related bibliography information access below:

  • Tate (2020) Tate art terms. Available at: https://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/o/outsider-art (Accessed: 21 December 2020)
  • S Indrisek (2019) Why ‘Outsider Art’ Is a Problematic but Helpful Label. Available at: https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-outsider-art-problematic-helpful-label/amp (Accessed: 21 December 2020)



As a mixed media artist who’s work is predominantly textile based, I am very aware of the escalating and disastrous impact that the textile industry is having on the environment.  As the textile and clothing industry continues to grow the damage environmentally now places it has the second largest pollutant of the world.



I am truly concerned how each of us is contributing to this terrible situation.  For a number of years I have consciously chosen to use recycled materials and fabrics where possible minimising my own impact and contribution to the existing environmental pollution. An action that l see many fellow artists increasingly doing themselves.  Two of these artists are Zwia Lipkin and Renae Barnard.

Zwia Lipkin is a textile artist who gains her inspiration from the world around her, particularly the relationship between different colours and textures.  She predominantly uses salvaged decor textiles and fabrics.

Artist Renae Barnard is a mixed media artist who gains her inspiration from the exploration of the network and interactions between environment, perception and well being.  Much of her artwork consists of using found materials and waste from the furniture industry.

The message of reclaiming, recycling and reusing needs to keep travelling and be heard.  For individual that takes heed and responds in the positive it is another strike at the pollution bubble wrapped round our world.

Below is a resource of online sites that give further information on the environmental pollution caused by textile and clothing waste and ways that we collectively and individually can take positive actions within our own creative practices and personal lives to reduce the environmental pollution.

  • British Fashion Council (2020) White Paper Available at: https://www.britishfashioncouncil.co.uk (Accessed: 23rd of December 2020)
  • Ingram H (2020) Recycling in Textile Art Available at: https://www.textileartist.org/recycling-in-textile-art/ (Accessed 22nd December 2020)
  • McFall-Johnson M (2020) Fashion’s Environmental Impact Available at: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/11/fashion-industry-carbon-unsustainable-environment-pollution (Accessed: 22nd December 2020)
  • Sustain your Style (2020) Sustain your Style Available at: https://www.sustainyourstyle.org/old-environment-impacts (Accessed: 23rd December 2020)
  • Blanchard T (2018) Fashion Revolution Week: seven ways to get involved Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2018/apr/24/fashion-revolution-week-seven-ways-to-get-involved (Accessed 23rd December 2020)
  • Davis N (2020) Fast Fashion speeding toward environment disaster, report warns Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2020/apr/07/fast-fashion-speeding-toward-environment-disaster-report-warns (Accessed 23rd December 2020)
  • Who made my clothes? (2020) Who made my clothes? Available at: https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/whomademyclothes/?utm_source=ig_embed (Accessed: 22nd December 2020)

Image Reference:

  1. Sustain your Style (2020) Sustain your Style Available at: https//www.sustainyourstyle.org/old-environment-impacts (Accessed: 23rd December 2020)
  2. Sustain your Style (2020) Sustain your Style Available at: https://www.sustainyourstyle.org/old-environmnet-impacts (Accessed: 23rd December 2020)
  3. Ingram H (2020) Kwai Napkin Textile Artist Available at: https://www.textileartist.org/recycling-in-textile-art/ (Accessed: 23rd December 2020)
  4. Barnard R (2018) Mindful and Meaningful: Exploring the synergetic relationship of textile waste and fine art practice Available at: https://www.renaebarnard.com/story/tag/fiber+artist (Accessed: 23rd December 2020)
  5. Sustain your Style (2020) Sustain your Style Available at: https://www.sustainyourstyle.org/old-environment-impacts (Accessed: 23rd December 2020)
  6. Lipkin Z (2020) Exploring textiles and sustainability – Hands Available at: https://www.anytexture.com (Accessed: 22nd December 2020)


In June of 2017 the Art Station launched.  Initially it offered the local community of Saxmundum (Suffolk) free contemporary art education programmes.

This year (2020) the Art Station acquired a new premises, the first floor of what was previously the post office situated in Saxmundum town on the local high street.  It is currently undergoing extensive restoration but the large gallery space is available for exhibitions/events – Covid-19 pandemic  rules allowing.

The Art Station continues its online programmes by utilising a number of social media platforms.  Currently it has an open call for a free critiquing of artists creative works.  To be included in the critique all that is needed is to email [email protected] a link for your website or Instagram account, along with three sentences stating what your work is, where you are based and why you wish to be involved.  The deadline for application is the 6th of January 2021 the session will be held on the 18th of January 2021 (Monday) between 7 – 9pm on Zoom.

For further information about the Art Station please access the sites below:

  • http://www.instagram.com/the_artstation/
  • http://www.theartstation.uk/
  • https://mobile.twitter.com/the_artstation
  • Direct email: [email protected]
  • Images all taken from the Facebook page of the Art Station site available at: http://www.theartstation.uk/