Poverty is about more than money. There is poverty of opportunity and of resources. Roomies artists are poor in life but rich in art. “Roomies” is an art group for boarding house residents in inner Sydney.
Roomies Artspace is unfunded and reliant on dedicated volunteers and donations, particularly from local restaurants, The Codfather, Oscillate Wildly and Perama through the Street Smart Project. Roomies couldn’t continue without the ongoing support of Newtown Neighbourhood Centre, Marrickville Sketch Club, the Addison Rd Gallery and Marrickville Council who funded our 08 exhibition. The Roomies Art Exhibition for Anti Poverty Week, is from 10 to 4pm Friday October 17th to Sunday October 19th at Addison Rd Gallery, 142 Addison Rd, Marrickville. Opened by our special guests Sydney Street Choir.
as featured in The Glebe October 16th
In Australia, boarding houses are the main accommodation for people with a mental illness or disability.If you live in a boarding house you are well below the poverty line. You have no money for luxuries like pencils and paper, let alone good quality art materials. You share rooms and possessions. There are no locks on your doors, you have no privacy or peace and quiet.
Roomies provides an artspace, art classes, art materials and mentoring for boarding house residents, like the more established Arts Project Australia in Melbourne. Since the start of the project 10 years ago, several artists, like Mark Hood and Clarrice Collien, have developed sufficiently to be offered solo exhibitions.
Mark Hood says, “I now identify as an artist, not a person with a mental illness.”
Leon Suchecki says, “I like art, it has a mystery. People often ask me about my art.”
The term Outsider Art was coined by art critic Roger Cardinal in 1972 as an English synonym for Art Brut (meaning “raw art” or “rough art”), a label created by French artist Jean Dubuffet to describe art created outside the boundaries of official culture; Dubuffet focused particularly on art by insane asylum inmates. (from Wikipedia)
Outsider art generally refers to creative works by people with no formal training. Their art is based on their inner experience, with no reference to mainstream art practice. (see essay ‘Outsider Art and the outsiderish’ by Professor Colin Rhodes)
There are obvious connections between poverty and being positioned outside of society. If you have no access to training, education, materials, then you are unlikely to be recognised as an artist, no matter how strong your inner vision and how appealing or stimulating your expression of it is.
If art is communication, as concluded in Wikipedia, then Roomies is the voice of the poorest artists speaking as loudly as they can, with vigour and joy. Are you listening?