Exhibition review: stories by autistic artists at the Click Clock Gallery


By - Monday 7th September, 2015

Rossella Scalia reflects on private treasures during a visit to the oldest of Croydon town centre’s three art galleries


Image by the NAS summer exhibition, used with permission.

Our lives are stories; told, listened, sometimes invented. What makes them unique is how we build those lives by continuously creating and adjusting our stories. Art is a way to tell stories: sometimes including ourselves in them, at times revealing only a tiny part of our being and occasionally hiding a personality behind a canvas hoping for someone to catch and discover us.

Croydon recently gathered a series of stories made up by autistic artists at the Click Clock Gallery in Katharine Street, an art café inside Croydon’s magnificent nineteenth century town hall. The exhibition, which ran in July 2015, was organised by the National Autistic Society, a charity that deals with people with autism and provides support for them and their families.

The artists’ self-portraits seemed to me to go beyond what might be thought as plain storytelling; in this case, watching means listening to their stories and giving them a new meaning, conscious that each of us lives in a personal world. When someone shows this private treasure so openly as the artists of the National Autistic Society have done, we are not only witnessing the unfolding of a story but we are finally able to go beyond ourselves. Our story becomes suddenly a thousand stories, a thousand voices, a thousand faces, all inside us, hung on a wall, lit by the daylight flooding through the gallery’s beautiful glass roof.

By watching the pictures we realise how diverse this world that we live in is and how important it is for each of us to express it simply as we see it. No matter if art does not aspire to success – a patient process of knowledge is triggered by doing it. This process helps to voice feelings and shape emotions; this is what makes in every one of us a story. Finding the strength to tell means overcoming the silence.

Luigi Pirandello wrote in Shoot!: The Notebooks of Serafino Gubbio, Cinematograph Operator (1916): “There is a something more in everything. You do not wish or do not know how to see it”.

Seeking that something more is the pleasure of a lifetime, and the pleasure of the Click Clock Gallery.

Rossella Scalia

Rossella Scalia

Rossella is a London-based architecture critic and researcher. Her interests focus mainly on architectural education, photography, cinema and communication. She has been studying the potential of forgotten spaces and unfinished buildings within the concept of participatory design. Rossella has been shortlisted for the Architects Journal Writing Prize in 2012.

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