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Brent Pope is best known for his rugby punditry on RTÉ; yet, a lesser-known passion of his is “Outsider Art”. This is a term coined to describe art made by people with no formal training, whose work is created outside the influence of mainstream establishments such as art schools and galleries. It is also referred to as Raw Art.
Brent quotes, “I’m not an art critic or expert; I just have a passion for this kind of art and the talented people that create it. Many, but not all, are living on the margins of society and may have experienced social disadvantage or exclusion as a result of issues such as mental health, homelessness or learning disabilities”.
Brent regularly travels abroad to Outsider Art Galleries and Fairs and is often asked about Irish Outsider art and where it can be seen. This has prompted Brent to go in search of Ireland’s hidden Outsider artists and realise his dream of showcasing their work in a major exhibition. In January of this year, he put out a call on the national airwaves for submissions and the response was overwhelming. With the help of Catherine Marshall, art historian and former curator at IMMA, the final selection was made, resulting in this stunning exhibition BEYOND: Irish Outsider Art.
“I want the world to see what I see, that Irish Outsider artists are amongst the most creative and inspirational in the world. I want and hope that those visiting the exhibition will feel the emotional connection that I felt so many years ago and will look into the souls and journeys of these truly gifted artists. To me, they represent what art should be, not about our acceptance, validation or about personal financial reward but about the immense pride and daily pleasure they derive from splashes of brilliant colour or minuscule detail painstakingly rendered. These art innovators are truly uncooked by culture”.
A documentary about the making of this exhibition is available on the RTÉ player www.rte.ie