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  • Writer's pictureSTEVE COOKE AATA

Jennifer Gilbert - a champion of self-taught and overlooked artists

Updated: Jun 30, 2020

Even though museums and galleries will be allowed to reopen in England from 4 July, as long as social distance measures are in place, including one meter + distance regulations, we are still a long way off from the moment when exhibiting and viewing visual art returns to normal.

For many artists and the viewing public the virtual galleries that have been set up across the art world are playing an even more vital role. One such online platform is the innovative Jennifer Lauren Gallery run by Jennifer Gilbert.

I asked Jennifer to tell me more:

‘I am based in Manchester, UK. I run the Jennifer Lauren Gallery, which is an online gallery supporting disabled, overlooked, and self-taught artists. I take part in pop-up exhibitions and art fairs nationally and internationally, helping to profile these artists to wider audiences. Please take a look at the roster of artists that I support, including many artists working out of supported studios in Japan. Earlier this year I held the largest, ever monochrome exhibition of self-taught, disabled and outsider artists from around the world working in ceramics, textiles and drawing - 61 artists featured, and many attended the launch event. During lockdown I held a call-out for self-defined disabled and/or Deaf artists nationally and internationally to submit one work each, made since January 2020. Thirty artists were selected to appear in an online exhibition and zine titled 'Art | Unlocked | Unearthed.' You can catch all of this on my website:’.

This exhibition and zine was part of Jennifer’s Manchester International Festival Remote Residency.

With the help of artist and adult survivor Terence Wilde and curator Lisa Slominski, she selected the work of the 30 artists from 194 submissions. culminating in a very rich and vibrant online exhibition and zine.

Jennifer worked with Molly Davies, a freelance graphic designer, to create the zine and then followed the designs through with her website team, BGSD, for the online exhibition.

The Greater Manchester artists that were chosen were: Michael Beard, Amy Ellison, Jennie Franklin, Andrew Johnstone and Leslie Thompson.

Very much in-line with AATA’s firmly held beliefs Jennifer maintains that art is of vital importance to disabled creatives as it combats loneliness and provides a much-needed distraction during the current crisis.

Kate Bradbury with her work

She confirms this with, ‘I hope you can see I am passionate about giving artists a voice who are unable to do so themselves and that I firmly believe everyone is entitled to the right to a creative life and freedom of expression.’

Chris Neate with his work

We all can see Jennifer Gilbert’s passion and she should be applauded for her vital work in building individual and community resilience, which is needed even more during these difficult times.

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