Chichester gallery steps up to showcase project success

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THE private viewing of an exhibition showcasing a project which supports local artists was held to great success at Chichester’s Pallant House Gallery earlier this month.

Artists, guests and staff attended the viewing of the Outside In: Step Up Showcase on Thursday, November 5, in the gallery Studio.

The exhibition marks and celebrates seven years of the Step Up training and professional development programme, which is an arm of the Outside In project.

Founded by the Pallant House Gallery, Outside In supports inclusion and participation for all in the contemporary art world.

As part of this project, Step Up is an initiative which is designed to support artists who face barriers to the creative sphere.

These barriers could include such factors as health, disability, social circumstance or isolation.

The Step Up Showcase, which continues until Sunday, November 22, is an interactive exhibition which celebrates the experiences and achievements of over 70 artists trained through the programme, emphasising the work of the project and how it has developed since its inception.

In addition to a series of photographs of participants at work, taken by photographers such as Andy Hood, a ‘Jean Dubuffet Workshop’ was among the exhibits presented in the Step Up Showcase.

Taking inspiration from the Dubuffet works on display in Pallant House Gallery, this interactive piece, which is based on a Step Up workshop developed by artist Lynne Firmager, invites visitors to explore Dubuffet’s use of mark making within a limited palette.

Using red, black, and blue marker pens, this canvas has been added to and developed by visitors to create a unique a and collaborative work of art.

The exhibition also has an Audio Tour, which includes descriptions and poetic responses to works of art by former Step Up participants, and leads visitors to view artworks that have been part of Step Up research.

To take part in the tour, visitors can collect an iPod from reception.

Jennifer Gilbert, the Outside In manager, said: “The exhibition is all about celebrating the artists and showcasing how they’ve developed their skills through the Step Up Training.”

“It’s important that those who take part in the programme feel that they are artists, regardless of their backgrounds.”

There are two programmes delivered by Step Up, including a Workshop Leaders course, which helps to develop skills relating to facilitating and leading workshops.

The other course, Interpreting Collections, enables those taking part in the programme to develop skills in research and intepretaton of works of art, using the gallery’s collections.

The exhibition was curated by Julia Oak, who has been a participant in the Step Up programme since 2012.

Sonia Rasbery is the Step Up coordinator, and has worked with the programme for the last two years.

She said: “I think Julia has done a truly exceptional job in curating this exhibition, and she has done fantastically in such a short space of time – she only had about 12 weeks to get everything together.

“Julia curated this exhibition as part of a trial run of a Curation Course that we are hoping to run.

“It meant that she could benefit from professional expertise in curating as part of one on one sessions.”

In preparation, Julia created a model so that the layout could be visualised in a 3D format, something that she feels was “a very important process” in curating the exhibition.

Julia said: “Curating the exhibition has been a very intense but rewarding experience, and I feel like I’ve learned a lot very quickly. You’ve got to learn to go from zero to 60 in a few seconds!

“However, the thing that’s important about Step Up is that you learn by doing, it’s got an interactive nature, which I think is very important.

“Learning to work hands-on while completing training with Step Up was a skill that certainly came of use while curating this exhibition.”

Outside In: Step Up Showcase has been dedicated to Valerie Graves, a participant in the Workshop Leaders course in the latter half of 2013.

Working with expert tutors in a gallery setting, the Step Up programme is designed to enable artists to develop their knowledge, skills, and expertise of the art world. It offers one to one support as well as the opportunity to work in pairs.

For more information about Outside In and Step Up, visit www.outsidein.org.uk, telephone 01243 770845 or email outsidein@pallant.org.

To donate to this project, visit www.justgiving.com/outside-in.

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