A SELT-TAUGHT ARTIST BASED IN DENMARK OPENS A DOOR TO A STRANGE AND BEAUTIFUL UNIVERSE
by Victoria Tischler
Victoria Tischler PhD is a professor of behavioral science at the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom. She is a chartered psychologist and associate fellow of the British Psychological Society. Her research focuses on creativity and mental health, and on multisensory approaches to promote healthy ageing and innovative dementia care. She has worked as a curator in the outsider art field and recently presented “Art from the Outside,” a series of programs on BBC Radio 3.
Not too long ago, during a visit to Copenhagen Outsider Art Gallery in Denmark’s capital, I met with an artist who goes by the single name “Sarah,” whose work has been exhibited at that venue. As she revealed a large scroll, I was confronted by a dark canvas dominated by the black skulls of corvids (a family of birds that includes crows, jays, magpies, and the raven) whose sharp, menacing beaks resembled monkey wrenches.
They hovered sinisterly over a small female figure situated deep in a forest. Her head was downcast and she held an axe. As I examined the picture Sarah showed me, it was unclear whether its subject was the heroine of the scene it depicted or if the girl was in mortal danger, unable to escape from imminent threats around or within her.
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