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Graduates chosen for initiative supporting health and wellbeing of artists

Hand-made miniatures by Yvonne J Foster

ARTISTS and graduates of the University of Chichester have been chosen to collaborate on a new initiative intended to help people who face barriers to the art world for reasons of health, disability, social circumstances, or isolation.

Deborah Petch and Rachel Redfern, who completed the MA in Fine Art, were selected for the Insight project after it was given financial support from Arts Council England.

The initiative, which will also include Brighton-based artist and designer Yvonne Foster, is a partnership between the University and charity Outside In – housed at the Pallant House Gallery in Chichester – which supports the mental health and wellbeing of artists.

The group will, for the next six months, share the practice and experience of each other’s individual methods of working to create new and insightful work about their artistic practice.

Rachel Redfern, who paints abstract landscapes that retain the memory of past events and its inhabitants, will facilitate the project.

She said: “Harnessing the energy of those final marks and the imperfections of the surface and capturing the essence and spirit is important to how I live and work.

“This creative fascination with what you cannot see as much as what you can see in the people we encounter helps provide me with an insight that I hope will be of benefit.”

 Yvonne J Foster, Rachel Redfern, and Deborah Petch

Fellow graduate and multidisciplinary artist Deborah Petch, whose MA exhibition Inklings expresses her journeying of the physical and mental, said constructing art allows her the space and time to experience and think creatively.

She added: “Being a practicing artist is vital to me as it is an expression and an exploration into what makes us human and what it is to be alive.”

The Outside In project was founded by Pallant House Gallery in 2006 to create a fairer art world which rejects traditional values about whose work can and should be displayed.

The new collaboration between the artists will conclude with an exhibition at the Gallery across February and March next year featuring public talks and practical workshops.

Dr Shirley Chubb, a Reader in Interdisciplinary Art at the University, said: “This is a rare opportunity that provides an opportunity to reflect on the excellent work of the Outside In project but also raise the level of debate of the role of art in well-being.

“Insight will create opportunities for artists from different backgrounds to learn from each other giving them space for discussion and collaboration and time to develop their artistic practice, professional and social skills, confidence, and well-being.”

Alchemy of dreams

The latest project is the result of a lasting partnership between the University, Gallery, and Outside In which started in 2014 to discuss art practices and cultural events which, last year, culminated in an exhibition.

Artist and designer Yvonne Foster was chosen for the recent initiative for her hand-made miniatures, books, and tiny boxes using paper collage that reflect her process thoughts and emotions.

Her recently-published book – Inside: an artist's work; living with depression – is a self-confessed direct and unapologetic visual account of her experiences of her breakdown.

She said: "Being creative is essential to my wellbeing, it has become a way to manage living with mental health issues.

“I simplify portraits of people and remove their complications - I break down images into each component part, shape and colour.”

Insight project

Since its inception the Outside In project has engaged with 5,000 artists traditionally excluded from the mainstream art world and has held more than 40 exhibitions nationwide.

Its manager Jennie Gilbert said: “This partnership will allow growth in both artists and will allow meaningful discussions and artistic dialogue to take place.

“Following on from the successful pilot in 2014, where the Outside In artist secured a place to study a degree in Fine Art at the University of Chichester, we wanted other artists to gain the experience and skills sharing that the Outside In artist did at that time.”

For more about the Insight partnership organised by the Outside In organisation at Pallant House Gallery go to

Alternatively find out more about the MA in Fine Art at the University of Chichester at