b 1954 (UK) 12.01.20 - 15.03.20




It was a chance discovery in a second-hand bookshop which inspired the drawings and tapestries of Margate-based artist VALERIE POTTER.

Upon reading the seminal Outsider Art (1972 ) by Roger Cardinal, POTTER decided to send its author some drawings. The art historian was so impressed, he curated POTTER’s first solo exhibition at the University of Kent (1985), recommending her to collector Monika Kinley.

Although always creative, POTTER did not consider herself an art-maker. Born in Kent, she had spent a childhood in Nigeria and an adolescence in Jamaica, alongside her father, a teacher and educator. At 19, POTTER enrolled at art school, but found it restrictive and left.

POTTER continued to draw and paint. When she caught sight of a stranger, cross-stitching on a local train platform, she considered whether fabric might give her more freedom and portability. It was a moment of realisation; and it led the artist to explore a new and exciting format.

POTTER’s practice shifted. Elaborate weaves described personal associations. Fantastical landscapes and microscopic worlds were fuelled by the artist’s love of botany. They tied together symbols of birth, death and love with non-religious iconography.

Complex and swirling monochromatic works formed the next phase of her production. The line-drawings on cloth (as she describes them) used graphic text and image to describe the dense inner monologues, dialogues, even trialogues, of POTTER’s analytic mind.

These materialisations offered a means to articulate ideas and concerns, philosophies and phobias. Yet if most were conceived for an audience of one, their effect was multiple. POTTER's whimsical works were noticed by artist Susan Hiller and writer Marina Warner.

POTTER continues to live and work in Margate, where she also writes poetry and knits. Her drawings, paintings, tapestries and embroideries have been exhibited at the Irish Museum of Modern Art (Dublin, UK), Whitechapel Gallery (London, UK), Whitworth Museum (Manchester, UK) and Tate Britain (London, UK). Collections include the Whitworth Art Gallery (Manchester, UK) and Bethlem Museum of the Mind (Kent, UK).