My Outsider Art Solo Show: “Colours of My Mind”

Me, Michelle Baharier, posing in front of "Made Up PPE"

Video is made by Flexible Films

Thank you all for coming to my solo show last week, “Colours of My Mind,” at Nolia’s Gallery, 60 Great Suffolk Street, SE1 0BL. As a dyslexic artist and mental health activist, my Art Brut / Outsider Art paintings are a window into the souls of others, so it was so exciting to have a great turnout and see and hear everyone’s responses to my work.

Art Brut aka Outsider Art is a term coined by French artist Jean Dubuffet for self-taught artists presenting their experiences outside the restrictive bounds of society. Although I have been trained at multiple institutions, including Slade School of Fine Art, University of the Arts London, Exeter College of Art & Design, Stadelschule, and more, I am a dyslexic artist in a very much ableist world. Outsider Art was initially created by psychiatric patients, prisoners, and outcasts to illustrate their fragile mental states and unorthodox world perspectives. Although it is very much a mainstream artist movement nowadays seen in many museums worldwide, the ethos still resonates with marginalized communities around the world. We don’t need to be confined by constraints of perfectionism. 

Colours of My Mind showcased my COVID Diaries series alongside portraits of disability activists and members of the Colour Walk. During the first lockdown, my partner was hospitalized with COVID-19. My already fragile mental state was compounded by staying inside every day. Painting was my therapy and my window into the souls of others, and it’s how I stayed sane and connected to others.

A colourful Art Brut / Outsider Art Painting of my friend Gloria, a volunteer for the elderly in Southwark.
Gloria standing with my portrait of her. She is a volunteer for the elderly in Southwark. I captured the colours contained within us all and allowed our true expressionism out for all to see.

The above video was made by Flexible Films and is available to view on my YouTube channel as well. You will also find some spoken word pieces I made during the lockdown on my channel. Although many people, including myself, were very isolated during the pandemic, I believe it propelled the growth of communities that could connect to each other through social media and Zoom. For example, I had the pleasure of working with DASH, previously only a disability-led visual arts organization in Shropshire; with the pandemic, they were able to reach disabled artists all across the UK. 

To learn more about the inspiration behind my pieces, please read my blog post, “The Colour Blue.”

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