Rocket Artists present Art By Johnny: exploring inclusive curation

Joanna Offer, Jane Fox

Research output: Non-textual outputExhibition


This exhibition sees the realization of two aims: To celebrate the creativity of artist Johnny Carroll Pell and to present the collaborative journey and processes that learning-disabled and neurodivergent Rocket Artists explored in curating the show. In this sense the exhibition seeks to highlight and honour both the individual and collective endeavor at the heart of the Rocket Artists philsophy. Visitors to the exhibition can experience 3 distinct areas of work: the main gallery shows a selection of Johnny’s artwork and is linked to the South Gallery - where some of the ephemeral and performative aspects of the group curation can be explored. The adjoining corridor holds the collective and visual mapping of the curation process itself. Rocket Artists are a group of artists with and without learning disabilities who have extensive experience of collaborative and inclusive practices in art making, exhibition and performance. In 2013, Rocket Artists devised and curated Side by Side at the Spirit level gallery, Southbank Centre, London. The exhibition addressed Learning Disability, Art and Collaboration and drew in artworks from across the world from over 40 supported studios, arts organisations and artists. The ability to curate and organize exhibitions as a group has become an extension of Rocket Artist practice, most recently seen at ONCA Gallery for the Action! Take 1, Take 2, Take 3 exhibition of collaborative film making in 2016. The unique perspective gained from these experiences now sees Rocket Artists engaged much closer to home through the invitation from Phoenix Brighton to join them on their exploration of inclusion, curation, audience engagement, interpretations and access. The group saw this as an opportunity to support Johnny with a solo exhibition to celebrate his work. Rocket Artists extended the opportunity to collaborate and were joined by 3 artists from Phoenix Brighton. Working together they curated Johnny’s paintings in liaison with his parents, Angela and Henry. The team have documented and reflected on their explorations, asked questions, provoked and negotiated, made observations and devised creative responses to their experiences. In exploring what it is like to be artists charged with making decisions about the artworks of another, the group have been able to reflect on what individual artists bring in order to collaborate and move forward with integrity. The curation team will be sharing insights into their collaborative curation process on Sunday 22nd April. Information about all associated events can be found here: https://www. presents-art-by-johnny/ The project provides an important opportunity to contribute to the debate that artists with learning disabilities have credible and valid insights and expertise to offer. It throws a light on the shifting role of the collaborative artist within supported studios as dynamic, listening and socially engaged. Rocket Artists run a supported studio in the Phoenix where individuals focus on their distinct practices and develop specific ambitions. Partnership projects such as Art By Johnny provide valuable opportunities for individuals to collaborate with other artists and organisations in meaningful ways that can enable mutual exchanges of knowledge and ideas.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2 Apr 2018
EventRocket Artists present Art by Johnny - Phoenix , Brighton, United Kingdom
Duration: 2 Apr 201829 Apr 2018


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