Find out more:
Art Extraordinary, Art Outside the Box -- YouTube video (Glasgow Museums)
Researching Art Extraordinary: A Fieldwork Photo-Collage Essay (Dr Cheryl McGeachan)
School of Geographical & Earth Sciences
Creating cultural legacies for mental health groups and other communities
Dr Cheryl McGeachan’s research demonstrated the significance of Art Extraordinary, a unique collection of Scottish ‘outsider art’ collected by therapist Joyce Laing from 1970 onward and donated to Glasgow Museums in 2012. McGeachan’s work fostered a new model of curatorial practice that helped secure permanent exhibition space highlighting Art Extraordinary and mental ill-health in the Kelvingrove Museum, which receives 1.3M visitors every year.
The UofG research demonstrated the significance of Art Extraordinary, a unique collection of Scottish ‘outsider art’ collected by therapist Joyce Laing during the period 1970−2000s and donated to Glasgow Museums in 2012. The collection of 1,134 pieces from c.1880−2007 is a set of diverse artworks created by people with no formal art education, often living on the margins of society including in mental health institutions and prisons.
As part of her research McGeachan conducted in-depth archival investigations into 9 artists who were responsible for 705 pieces in the collection, producing rich ‘geographical biographies’ of objects, places, materials, practices and people associated with Art Extraordinary. This provided a foundational treatment for the collection that can now inform future researchers and expand the category of and approaches to ‘outsider art’.
Dr McGeaghan worked in partnership with the Open Museum team of Glasgow Museums to utilise the Art Extraordinary collection via multiple exhibitions and inclusion in the Scottish Mental Health Arts & Film Festival, community engagement workshops with diverse vulnerable and underrepresented groups, and the development of a community resource kit (Art Outside the Box) to:
- Establish a sustainable model of museum-academic collaboration and secure a permanent change to exhibition space at the Kelvingrove Museum & Art Gallery; and
- Enhance inclusion and the well-being and skillsets of participants from diverse communities including prisoners, and those requiring psychiatric or mental health care services.