I’m trying to find a pottery workshop in Clandulla when I get lost somewhere off Brogan’s Creek Road. Before I can turn around the road veers sharply to the left and I find myself in front of a property with some of the most elegant landscaping I have ever seen. The lawn stands out for its perfectly manicured form, which sits within the dry and dusty surrounds like a glowing velvet blanket. Sitting on this pristine surface is an arrangement of assemblage sculptures; a collection with such surprising sophistication they beckoned a closer and deeper analysis. Made from cement and collected organic material their workmanship is impeccable. Polished concrete gives way to roughly hewn sides. In one formidable piece the branch of an elegant eucalypt sapling danced through the grey rock structure rising into the sky and bringing an unexpected levity and dynamism to the hard and cold concrete form. The great American philosopher Henry David Thoreau wrote many an inspiring essay on Man and his enriching yet complex relationship to the natural world. But he had nothing on this guy. The work was simply breathtaking.
In the midst of my all-consuming reverie the artist sidled up beside me and spoke in a kind of nonchalant tone, “You ‘right mate?”
I explain to him the importance of what I see before me. I’m sure I sound like a sycophant and a bit gushy but I don’t really care. When you are that certain you are in the presence of genius there is no point in trying to stop the ooze.
“Why are you not in Cementa?!” I exclaim. He tells me that he’s never been much interested in parlaying with that crowd, and they’ve never much been interested in parlaying with him.
“What sort of crowd is that?” I enquire.
“Sydney”, he replies. “They think they are open-minded and tolerant, and they’ll say they’re into things like Outsider Art but they’re not really. They are only interested in their ‘Outside’. They’re not interested in the Outsider’s Outsider Art.”
I ask him to explain what he means by that. He tells me that he used to live in Sydney, in Glebe. He told me he had a show once that was pretty fucked up, but he’d just gotten back from Vietnam and that was even more fucked up, so he didn’t see why everyone had gotten into such a stink about him killing a couple of rats.
“That was the work?”
“Yeah, that was the work. But no one’s interested in the Outsider’s Outsider Art.” he says.
Mark Shorter is Runway’s Guest Blogger for Issue#27 OUTSIDE.