Outsider art has surged in popularity amongst curators and collectors alike, holding retrospective exhibitions internationally and gaining high figures at auction. People are wanting to experience art that is bound both emotionally and personally to its maker, a key component to outsider art. The term outsider art itself was coined by critic Rodger Cardinal in 1972 and was originally a synonym for ‘Art Brut’. A term from the 1940’s that describes works produced beyond the boundaries of the mainstream art world. The umbrella term can also be used to describe artists that didn’t necessarily take the formal route into the art world usually due to experiencing poverty or mental illness, however this is not always the case.
Here are Hancock Galleries top outsider artists hand-picked by our team that you can’t afford to not know:
L.S Lowry was a British artist known for his industrial drawings and paintings that included his signature ‘matchstick’ people. The artists’ works depicted the area of Pendlebury on the outskirts of Manchester where Lowry lived, and where he ended up spending most of his life. As a young boy Lowry was willing to try anything rather than to have an unexciting job. So, after an aunt suggested that he go to the local art school at the age of 8, that became his career plan. At art school Lowry would have to practice studies of objects repetitively until the accuracy was to the teachers liking. Later evident in his love for attention to detail within his own paintings alongside the Pre-Raphaelites being one of his favourite movements within art history. A movement notorious for their attention to detail. In Lowry’s choice of subject, painting mills and the people who lived round and about he gave a visible history to the people of the North West of England.
Norman Cornish is one of the most famous artists from the North East of England, within the 20th century. The artist was born, lived and died in the mining town of Spennymoor. At the mere age of 14 Cornish left his schooling to become a coal miner and at 15 became a member of the sketching club at Spennymoor Settlement, giving him not only peers but opportunities to exhibit. Cornish was known to never be without his pocket notebook, creating studies and bringing him fame locally for his time spent observing those around him. Working within the mediums of paint and drawing Cornish told stories of hard lived lives of a community which endured, despite prejudice and adversity. Preserving life and giving global significance and permanence to those living in the same situations around the UK as well as internationally. In 1966 Cornish left his job at the pits to pursue painting professionally; going on to work until his death at the age of 94. In his later life he was given honorary degrees from three local universities Northumbria, Newcastle and Sunderland, as well as receiving an MBE in 2008 for his contribution to art.
Sam Wood is a British Artist from the North East of England. The artist is most well-known for the work he created of the Newcastle v’s Sunderland derby day in 2013. Wood encapsulated the moment a fanatic punches a horse in outrage at their teams’ defeat from media imagery, personifying the aesthetics of modern life. Wood studied at Newcastle Collage for his foundation degree and went to study his undergraduate at Falmouth University, specialising in painting. Wood explores the condition of city life through studies, photos and archival imagery of the place he has always called home, Newcastle. Studying the people and architecture, the everyday is transformed into vivid dreams. Wood adopts impulsive techniques and a range of tools to create spontaneity and abstract application of paint. However, realism remains the driving force with his work.
Tom McGuinness was an artist who was also one of the ‘Bevan Boys’ during the second World War, working in the coal mines to keep industry and communities functioning. McGuinness was also a ‘graduate’ of Spennymoor settlement. And, joined pitman painters for a short period having peers such as Norman Cornish, Herbert Dees and Robert Heslop. McGuinness studied at Darlington School of Art four nights a week for a time and self-taught a vast knowledge of the history of art. The artist worked within the mediums of drawing, painting and printmaking. McGuinness is most known for his distinct recognisability depicting the reality of life, working on the coal seams and illustrating the oppression and claustrophobia within the pits as well as life above. The artist rejected a 7-year apprenticeship in London to remain a coal miner- making sketches after work and using his free time to turn those sketches into painting.
The works of L.S Lowry are highly sought after, with collectors around the world eager to discover them. By working with the estates and families of this artist, our Signature collection brings unique and timeless classics to the market for investment. Discover more unique works by celebrated national and international artists in the heart of the North East at Hancock Gallery, open Thursday to Saturday 10am until 5pm.