Our penultimate feature on the organisations attending the International Summit for Learning Disability Artists and their Support Studios focuses on London-based ActionSpace.
“ActionSpace was launched in the 1960’s to provide stimulating creative activities for Londoners with learning disabilities, and became a company limited by guarantee and a registered charity in 1984. In 2001 ActionSpace took the decision to concentrate on the visual arts and launched the flagship Studio Project programme. We now have two dedicated art studios, in South London at Studio Voltaire and in Central London at Cockpit Arts, both well-respected contemporary arts venues.
Over the next three years we will be opening two additional studio locations, in East and West/NorthWest London. We are currently working with some 100 artists on a weekly basis. Our projects cater for a broad range of artistic talents, skills and interests, from beginners to established artists. One of our key strengths is that we work with artists across the entire spectrum of learning disability from mild to profound. The majority of our artists have high support needs, which are often misunderstood and difficult to cater for. Many have been excluded from other art projects.
Over the past thirty years we have worked with thousands of Londoners with learning disabilities. A number of our artists now have well developed studio practices and are regularly exhibiting in exhibitions of local, national and international significance. ActionSpace is widely regarded as a centre of excellence for working with artists with learning disabilities.”
The organisation will show works by artist Thompson Hall, who has been a key member of ActionSpace’s Central London studio for over 15 years. He has exhibited widely with ActionSpace and presented his first solo exhibition “Postcards from Brighton” at Brighton Dome in March 2014.
Colour is very important to Hall. He carefully choses and mixes his paints to capture a visual equivalent to a particular emotional or spiritual state, rather than depicting true-to-life colours. Like his fellow Camden-based inspiration Frank Auerbach, Hall attempts to resolve the experience of being in the world in paint.
Drawing since the age of 12, Hall produced images instigated by the readily available contemporary culture around him – scenes from newspapers, magazines and television. He remembers being particularly fascinated with the disturbing dreamlike sequences in ‘American Werewolf in London’ that sparked a number of drawings. Hall’s artistic talent was first recognised by his art teacher at John Keats School in Swiss Cottage, who encouraged him to do more drawing. After attending Kingsway College, Hall was introduced to ActionSpace and ever since has been a prolific studio artist.
Thompson Hall has created a new exhibition entitled “Postcards from Glasgow” especially for the International Summit.
“Postcards from Glasgow” is a series of vibrant cityscapes depicting landmarks of Glasgow from an outsider’s perspective. Thompson has never been to Glasgow and all of his research and preparatory sketches were done from images in books and on the internet. His paintings convey what he thinks his reaction to the city will be, utilising colour, shape and texture over representation. He is looking forward to seeing the city he has painted and finding out how the actual experience of being in Glasgow compares to the impressions he has drawn from research material created by others.
Read more about Thompson Hall here.