Darlington Arts Centre.


Working collaboratively with adults who had learning difficulties and disabilities who were moving into the community from a long stay institution at Newton Aycliffe, County Durham.

Part of the 'care in the community' programme.

Set up by the Artists Agency, Sunderland.

Looking back, the residency was really quite a radical and challenging concept.

It seems so distant now, but I remember vividly the level of prejudice that existed, and the 'fear' around the idea of the 'care in the community' programme.

The debate about 'art brut', (post Jean Dubuffet), art by 'the insane', 'outsider art', etc etc, still resonates with me and contradicts everything at the same time... It did at the time and still does now.

I still know, however, that absolutely nothing in art school could have possibly prepared me for the experience of those two years...

This small selection of images and documentation only skims the surface of the intense 're-learning' that I went through whilst working collaboratively with Peter, Alan, Michael, Sandy and co.

This was the first time I'd even considered the idea that 'art' was anything other than 'In a frame or on a plinth' - how inadequate were art schools in the 80's to have 'educated' me in such a blinkered way.

Collaboration, process, performance, recording, documentation and drinking coffee were central to the daily routine. We worked instinctively.

The 'studio' was always a hive of industry (and noise).

The 'work' (paintings, assemblages, audio tapes, live events, social events) was seen and heard in art centres and galleries in the North East.

I was never sure what people really thought of it...

What should they think - this was, on the whole, work by 'untrained, unskilled hands'...

I always enjoyed the fact we would never let a venue know who the work was by before the show or who was in the 'band' before a gig.

In some ways, that was the main drive of the residency - look, listen... You like this, thats good. Oh, by the way, this was made by a man with Downs Syndrome... Does it make a difference to you now? Oops, forgot to mention but this band have only been out of an institution for a short while, you OK with that?

Collaborative exhibitions between myself and the 'lads' (as I will always refer to them) took place at Darlington Arts Centre and The Dovecote Arts Centre, Stockton on Tees between 1986 and 1988.

Live performances happened at various venues around the North East of England, from 1987 onwards. There were two live performance groups; 'The Spiral Ensemble', a multi instrumental audio visual group, supplemented and supported musically and socially by Mike English, Steve McDowall, and others....... And 'Clint n Max', something altogether darker that Mike and myself cooked up.

alt : http://www.stephencarley.co.uk/files/spirals.mp3

 Arts North Magazine 1986     
 Peter Storey, me, Steve McDowall.     
 Papier mache mobile      
 Last cassette documentation     
 Keith and me drawing.     
 Studio recording     
 First cassette documentation.     
 Studio recording     
 Clint n Max upset the public     
 Clint n Max - sculptors and nurses     
 Michael and me in the studio.     
 That gig...