Outsiders in London
An exhibition of Outsiders in London, Are you one, too? - the second component of the London Trilogy - was mounted in the Gallery in the Crypt, St Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, for a period of 7 weeks, from 23rd March 2015 to 8th May 2015.
Milan and Gerald constructing the exhibition panels in Chiswick
The exhibition of Outsiders in London, Are you one, too? in the Gallery in the Crypt, from 23rd March 2015 to 8th May 2015
Peter Tatchel next to his own image, at the Official Opening on 24th March 2015
Milan Svanderlik speaking at the Official Opening of the exhibition
The venue, the Gallery in the Crypt, was highly appropriate, because the charitable work of St Martin’s is almost entirely focussed on the plight of outsiders, those who have temporarily or permanently fallen through society’s increasingly tattered safety net. The exhibition tried to show that the line between outsiders and the mainstream ( insiders? ) is sometimes very fine indeed and that a few individuals may even find themselves on both sides at once.
We estimate that, during its seven-week run, the exhibition was viewed by over 8,000 visitors and while responses varied, most were overwhelmingly positive. Sadly, we also have to record that there were a number of very negative, chauvinistic and occasionally vitriolic attacks - one Home Counties visitor actually referred to the sitters as “the detritus of society” - and one image was even physically attacked. It is interesting to note that many of thesa attacks appeared to emanate from denizens of the Home Counties, almost never from metropolitan London, or from further afield in the UK or abroad. One might be tempted into careless speculation upon whether the Home Counties are breeding a race of people who find it difficult to accept humanity as it is; indeed, worse than that, a species who cannot bear to gaze upon the two-dimensional representations of other human beings, so different from themselves, except through the distorting lenses of racism and bigotry. Every artist fears indifference most of all but I am happy to say that there was no evidence of that!
Over 8,000 visitors saw the exhibition despite the very modest publicity budget
We also received a goodly number of anonymous responses via the dedicated facility inside the gallery; these were transcribed and can be viewed via the link below. Visitors were asked to respond anonymously to the question: Are you an outsider too? Many responded and you might like to take time to read some of them: VISITORS RESPONSES
The exhibition had a minuscule publicity budget and we could not afford to secure any professional promotion services; consequently, we were again largely ignored by the mainstream media. However, the exhibition was featured in the Beaumont Society Magazine, in the Brixton Bugle, and perhaps most unexpectedly, in The Lady - they were doing a piece on Brian Sewell. Milan was also interviewed on LondonLive Television, on 10 April 2015, as part of their weekly Arts & Culture programme.
The online publicity coverage was much more considerable, with possibly the most noteworthy contribution by David Tacker, Special Correspondent of the Daily Constitutional, who wrote on 29 April 2015:
Literature, says C.S. Lewis, “admits us to experiences other than our own.”
Goes on to say, “the man who is contented to be only himself, and therefore less a self, is in prison. My own eyes are not enough for me, I will see through those of others.”
Forty others in the case of Outsiders in London, the small but guaranteed to stop you in your tracks photo exhibition in the Crypt at St. Martin in the Fields, the old church in Trafalgar Square.
Without naming names, there are quite a few big ticket affairs in London right now I’d give a miss to if I had to choose between seeing them and spending an hour or so in that makeshift little gallery getting to know those 40 Londoners.
It’s a potent combination. Those faces. Their stories. That arrow-in-the-heart subtitle:
Are you one, too?
And that’s not to mention the virtuosity of the image making. Camera shamra. We’re not in the realm of cameradom here. Those 40 portraits are masterpieces. We’re not just seeing 40 London outsiders – seeing right into them. We’re seeing what they see. Seeing with their eyes.
It’s a stunning achievement. Those images are beautiful. They’re humbling. They’re provocative.
Their creator – the photographer – is Milan Svanderlik. And, yes, if you insist, he’s Czech, knows whereof he photographs by virtue of being an “outsider” himself.
That’s paint-by-numbers criticism. On a par with the ho hum inducement: there are a couple of famous faces hanging up there. Svanderlik’s work – this exhibition – deserves better. It deserves you doing it the justice and doing yourself the favour of making sure you don’t miss it.
For Milan’s interview for decoded Arts by Frances Spiegel go to
For Milan’s podcast for Social History Hub by Lainy Malkani go to:
For Debbie Hubbard’s Outsiders in London Blog go to: