Back in 2001, printmakers Ella Ritchie and Sam Jones launched an eight-week project to improve arts education for artists with learning disabilities – looking to overturn prejudice and develop opportunities as they did so.
Seventeen years on, their project has grown to become South London’s most influential inclusive art collective, who have just moved into a state-of-the-art studio space in Peckham’s booming creative hub, Levels.
Intoart’s vision is for people with learning disabilities to be visible, equal and established artists; offering the space, exhibition time and event programming to help this come to fruition.
“Assumptions prevail that people with learning disabilities are the recipients of a service and are participants rather than contemporary cultural producers in their own right,’ says co-founder Ella. “There is a huge amount of work still to be done to challenge preconceptions. We believe that with increased ambition, the artwork made by artists from Intoart is a strong counter to those prejudices.”Some of the collective’s recent successes include the inclusion of works by Mawuena Kattah – who’s been a member since 2007 – on the Art’s Council’s national loan collection, with works on display at the Whitechapel Gallery and the V&A. Another decade-long member, Ntiense Eno Amooquaye, has just been awarded the Artists’ International Development Fund to research and develop new work at the Texture Museum in Belgium.
With their new space at Levels, Intoart now have room to support 21 artists and have scope for more, enabling them to run more projects, exhibitions and create larger, more ambitious works.
The collective will also continue to develop their mentoring scheme, in which artists head to schools, art colleges and galleries across the capital to teach young people with learning disabilities the tricks of the trade.
Intoart will be opening their design and art studios in a couple of weeks’ time (8th March); keep an eye peeled for open evenings and opportunities to meet the artists.