Art/Law Network Artists. Lawyers. Agitators. Collaborating for change. Fri, 18 Jun 2021 12:47:09 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 Art/Law Network 32 32 Call out from Migrants in Culture – Resources for Migrant Culture Workers & Hostile Environments New Testimonies 30 June 2021 Fri, 18 Jun 2021 12:47:09 +0000 Call out 1: resources for migrant culture workers

At Migrants in Culture we are developing a migrant resource pack: a document collecting and connecting existing sources of information and support for migrants working in culture.

We are inviting our fellow migrants to contribute to the pack: let us know about organisations, programmes or resources that provide professional, legal, financial, pastoral help or support with access to mental and physical healthcare for migrant culture workers.

We want to connect existing knowledge and resources and build on previous research and thinking we have undertaken. This is part of a longer process of bringing together communities and support and building an open-border culture sector, welcoming to all migrants.

To contribute, send your suggestions to, with ‘Resources for migrants’ in the subject line. Feel free to share multilingual resources or resources from beyond the UK but relevant to the experiences of migrant culture workers here. We will be collating resources until 30 June.

We are happy to receive website links, online material available to all, information on initiatives working locally, or anything else you think might be helpful.

The resource pack will be made available for free on the Migrants in Culture website.

Call out 2: hostile environments – new testimonies

Migrants in Culture members and those in our network are reporting a new surge in the implementation of Hostile Environment practices, with arts organisations increasingly conducting visa checks and developing regimes of control, oppression, and exclusion.

We are reaching out to our community to listen to, and connect with, the impact of this past year on migrant culture workers, building on testimonies gathered as part of our Hostile Environment survey. This will inform the next steps Migrants in Culture will take to advocate for a welcoming culture sector for all migrants and contribute to our growing Hostile Environment evidence base.

We want to know:

What has changed for migrant culture workers in 2021?

For example:

  • Have you noticed any shifts in how organisations engage with you and your work?
  • Have you received any additional support?
  • Have you faced restrictions to COVID cultural recovery and support due to being a migrant?

Please submit your testimonies, observations or impressions here.

If you prefer to submit in a different format, please get in touch at

We are open to receiving your testimonies by 30 June.

See website for more details.

Am I In or Out? Mon, 16 Dec 2019 18:16:38 +0000



by Arthur MacTaggart


I have no training in art.  My creativity at school was limited to doodles on my books.  And yet now, I find that art has become a crucial tool.

About a decade ago, my life went off the rails, and I was sentenced to a short spell in prison.  Not only was this an opportunity for me to get clean, but as it turned out, it would become the start of a passion.

I initially started to sketch as a way of recording the people and spaces in the prison.  Almost by accident, I joined a brief art course, and gained access to a library full of artists I had never heard of.  I poured over the books, and discovered styles that really spoke to me and themes that I could relate to.  I began to paint to explore my situation – the conflicting feelings of guilt and anger, of isolation and camaraderie.

Strangely enough, insofar as I ever considered myself to be an artist, I originally related to the term ‘Insider artist’ which I found in an anthology of prison art by Matthew Meadows (well worth a read).  It was only on my release that I realised many people would refer to me as an ‘Outsider Artist’.  But what does that mean?  Is it a comment on the artist themselves, or their work, or merely on how the rest of society view them?

Firstly, there is an undeniable link between art and law.  In my case, and many others historically speaking, living on the fringes of society (or beyond), both in a legal sense and a community sense, has provided the stimulus for creativity.  Sometimes, I suppose that this feeling of rejection or isolation has caused artists to deliberately try to subvert the world of art, which is often seen as elitist and esoteric.  But frequently the art world is drawn in by this, and consequently grows to include what was once outside.

Perhaps a tenuous metaphor is in order.  The art world is a vast sprawling conurbation.  Artists can set up camp far from the city, or on the outskirts looking in, but both the city and their camp is growing, so the two often eventually merge.  So perhaps the only way to remain an outsider artist is to forever be moving your camp further from the city. No mean feat.

From a personal point of view, I know that other people using this term to describe me and my work has given me a platform and for that I am grateful.  I was honoured to be part of an exhibition and seminar at the University of Sussex, and when I told a 3rd year student that I struggled to see myself as any sort of artist, let alone outsider or insider, she came back with a pertinent observation – part of the definition of artist belongs to her.  So by that logic, people can call me what they like… within reason!

I don’t have the answers.  I can see the issues with the term, and I can appreciate that it may put up barriers where none exist.  After-all, some of the world’s most popular artists didn’t have formal art training, and many of them created art from their personal experiences of isolation and rejection.  But surely it’s all well-meaning; it’s often part of a movement to promote artists that might otherwise struggle to find the limelight, offering them an opportunity to get their work into public view.  But fundamentally, for me, there will always be a certain irony in presenting social isolation in a way that feels safe and even monetizable to people who may have helped cause it in the first place.


Arthur is an untrained artist who first engaged with art during a brief prison sentence.  His experiences of the legal system and incarceration provide stimulus for much of his work.

He has had work in several exhibitions, and is a member of Outside In, Arts & Health South West,  and the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance.

He also works to advocate creativity, both in secure settings and beyond:  He was part of an All Party Parliamentary Group that held an enquiry into the link between creativity and well-being, and is also one of the founders of The LENS (Lived Experience Network) – a group of people who promote (and have used) creativity to address issues with well-being and health. 

See Arthur’s website, social media, and engagement with LENS.

Migrants In Culture Survey – Key Research Findings Report Mon, 16 Dec 2019 17:36:31 +0000 Migrants In Culture Survey – Key Research Findings Report- evidence of the impact of the Hostile Environment on the UK cultural sector.

What is the impact of the Hostile Environment on the Cultural Sector?
Your workplace. Your experience.

Earlier this year we partnered with Migrants in Culture, a group of migrants directly experiencing increasing hostility in the cultural sector, to launch a UK-wide survey between May and July 2019 to collect key information on the experiences of all cultural workers, migrant and non-migrant, regarding the impact of the Hostile Environment Policy on the cultural sector.

We wanted to know the scale of the problem; who was being affected, how, and what we could do about it.  This report summarises our research, and provides evidence on the impact of the Hostile Environment policy on the cultural sector in the UK. We collected responses from 614 UK Cultural Workers across all areas, from producers, to artistic directors, artists, box office managers, to administrators.

Now the outcomes are here and they are quite sobering. Please follow this link to read the full report and join the Migrants in Culture in action:

The survey was conducted with support from Migrants OrganiseIndependent Theatre CouncilLIFT FestivalArtsquestCounterpoint ArtsKeep It ComplexArtsadminArt/Law NetworkperformingbordersLive Art Development AgencyOvalhouse TheatreContact ManchesterMarlborough TheatreAsia Art ActivismPrecarious Workers BrigadeUnlimitedThe AlbanyCulture+Conflict, Unis Resist Border ControlsGasworksUnited Voices of the World.

A Day of Art/Law – Reflections on the Live Art and Discussions at the Out(Law) Exhibition (SEAS) Socially Engaged Art Salon Mon, 07 Oct 2019 09:49:50 +0000




A Day of Art/Law – Reflections on the Live Art and Discussions at the Out(Law) Exhibition (SEAS) Socially Engaged Art Salon

by Giselle Jones

BMECP Centre Brighton 14th September 2019.


On 14thSeptember, the out(Law) exhibition, hosted a live art intervention Margarita X: A Case Study by artist Janina Moninska, followed by a roundtable on Art, Law and Resistance chaired by artist Jack Tan. 

The events were attended by a diverse range of approximately twenty five artists and visitors. The aim of the event was facilitate an understanding of what it is like to be a refugee applying for asylum, with no guarantee of protection from the law. The live art then led directly into a general discussion about the cross overs of art, law and resistance.

Janina began by asking her audience of assembled artists their citizen status in the UK.Most of the artists were British citizens, one has dual citizenship, two of the artists were on a visa. One of the artists had to return to Bosnia in April 2020, but was keen to stay in the UK. All of the artists felt that refugees were welcome to Britain.

For me, this exercise highlighted how place of birth and circumstance has an impact on an individuals’ ability to apply for British citizenship.The obstacles many refugees face in applying for asylum in the UK were further demonstrated in the performance of a faux interview between two fictional characters, an Ecuadorian asylum seeker named ‘Margarita’ and British Home Office employee played by Janina.

The scene is set where Margarita is trying to escape forced prostitution in Ecuador. She has been beaten, raped and having suffered this abuse she must then relive this experience in a grueling interview by the Home Office, in a country whose laws will determine whether she can seek asylum or be sent back to persecution. It would seem the odds are stacked against her in a country that is trying to reduce net migration.

If she has no documentary evidence to prove her story, her case is assessed on three criteria: the credibility, consistency of her story, and her demeanour – as per the law. If she smiles when she says she is raped, this could have an impact of her case.

In video documentation, we are shown Janina’s performance of Margarita’s perspective of the home office interview: she reflects on the humiliation she feels at having to prove she was raped, expose herself to show her scars, and questions why she can’t just join her distant relatives in the UK.

Members of the audience noted that the interview felt intrusive. One of the artists mentioned that to stay in the UK he had to prove that he was in a same sex relationship with his partner, again highlighting the intrusive nature of such an ordeal.

In the context of an increasingly hostile environment towards migrants and a Home Office that has migration targets to meet, the slightest gesture can determine the fate of the asylum seeker. The asylum seeker has to be resourceful, find a way to survive within a system that reinforces their status as a ‘victim.’

How do those that fall outside the law, with no legal status, survive? Some outside of the law are resourceful and can circumvent the law: one of the artists suggested that if a non-domiciled person can make art that is visually pleasing, this might be prevented from him or her from being moved on.

The discussion highlighted the paradoxical nature of our system; we live in a globally connected, free market economy where trade necessitates freedom of movement and ‘frontiers’ appear to have been dissolved, yet freedom of movement is not inclusive. While some can travel freely, others have to apply for visas.

The intervention reminded me of the inegalitarian nature of our borders is addressed by the Belgian artist Francis Aly’s in his project entitled ‘TheLoop’ (1997). Aly’s travels took him south from Tijuana, across to Australia, North up the Pacific Rim, and South through Alaska, Canada and the United States, reaching San Diego without having crossed the US-Mexico border. This extravagant detour serves to illustrate the obstacles Mexican citizens face when trying to visit the US, while others can travel more freely, and the kind of plight Margarita was facing too.

One of the artists present at the intervention mentioned that he invited his Mexican friend to New Zealand for Christmas but his friend was refused entry because he didn’t have a visa. Unable to travel beyond the liminal space of the airport transit lounge, he had to go to the Australian consulate to obtain a visa. Just another reminder of the harsh and hostile environment laws and their borders create.


Once the performance had finished, continuing in this theme, Jack Tan initiated a group discussion on the relationship between art, law and resistance. He asked the group if art that intends to be political crosses the line into activism and ceases to be art?

The criteria we use to evaluate art can change as laws do. Duchamp broke the code of the museum by displaying the copy of a urinal. It was something manufactured, utilitarian and ubiquitous. The copy of the urinal has no commodity value, and removed art from its pedestal into the public sphere.

Similarly, the Cuban artist Tania Bruguera believes art should be of use to society in some way. Renouncing Kant’s idea of art that is autonomous, art is perceived instead as something practical, and integrated into different facets of life.Arte Utilor ‘Useful Art’ rejects the autonomy of art and suggests that art exists as a network, an ecology of use, that is not separate from the every day.Like the Artist’s Placement Group’s‘delta unit,’ Arte Util is concerned with the ethical and political dimensions of artistic creativity rather than with its value in the market.

Considering art outside of the ‘institution’, such as Banksy’s graffiti becomes commercial, Jack Tan then asked the group when resistance is licensed, where does resistance go?

One of the artists suggested resistance can only occur outside of the institution, for example the living room.

Interestingly, Tania Bruguera set up an art school in her own home, a pedagogic project entitled tedra Arte de Conducta(2002-9).Based at her home in Havana, the school was committed to providing training in political and contextual art for art students in Cuba. She wished to make a solid contribution to the Cuban art scene, partly in response to its lack of institutional facilities and exhibition infrastructure, and partly in response to ongoing state restrictions on Cuban citizens’ travel and access to information. 

Jack concluded the session by talking about his art piece, an animal court hearing entitled ‘Four Legs Good’ which attempts to recreate an imaginary court that could be real and alludes to the European medieval animal trials where animals accused of committing crimes were tried.

One of the artists declared that the grey squirrel should tried for genocide for wiping out the native red squirrel. Rabbits are not native, they’re from Spain originally – should their citizenship be reviewed?

The absurdity of such animal trials is perhaps a satirical poke at the absurdity of a skewed legal system.

Just as animals put on trial show how they have no way of defending themselves, so too this could represent the plight of asylum seekers and all those living outside of the law. Asylum seekers may find themselves in limbo in the airport transit lounge or court room unable to represent themselves, their fate determined by the judgement of those representing them from a playing field which is far from level.


Giselle Jones is a painter and just completed her MA Fine Art at Brighton University,  Find her work on Instagram @gisellejonesart.

The out(Law) exhibition explored what being outside the law may mean, from refugee status as excluded bare life, to animals whose agential rights are still outside of our legal frameworks, those living outside with no shelter, the impact of outsiderness on the everyday.

out(Law) Exhibition SEAS Socially Engaged Art Salon Brighton 7-29 September 2019 Mon, 19 Aug 2019 11:52:02 +0000


Sometimes we are outside, very rarely are we in. Hitting the highway and running for the hills may seem the most Butch Cassidy of remedies, in true renegade form. But these days, can we ever get outside law? Scroll on our screens and we find T’s&C’s, we wrench at those who are encamped and detained – maybe we are those encamped and detained – walk down the street and find those who are definitely not included in the law: it can be hard to imagine the anti-hero, the one who gallops off into the dusty vista with their loot in their leathers, state patrols on their heels, a caricature of the criminal underworld and otherly nether spaces. Maybe back then law wasn’t everywhere, or maybe more like back then the law as the frontier itself.

Etymologically ‘outlaw’ means ‘fugitive from the law’, following old English ‘utlaga’ ‘one put outside the law’ or from Old Norse ‘utlagi’, to be outlawed or to be banished. Being banished means no longer having legal protection, being exempt, and not in a playful Jess James kinda way, but in a way those crossing seas to seek refuge only to either die on the way or find no legal recourse once at their promissory destination.
What does outlaw mean to us today? What does it mean to be banished and excluded from the law? Can we even be outside the law – and maybe we want to be.

This exhibition explores what being outside the law may mean, from refugee status as excluded bare life, to animals whose agential rights are still outside of our legal frameworks, those living outside with no shelter, the impact of outsiderness on the everyday.

Come join us at SEAS (Socially Engaged Art Salon) based at Brighton’s BMECP Centre not too far from the station, for a month long residency of the Art/Law Network and its members enact, manifest, represent and bring to life in one form or another, what it means to be, know, see and feel, as one, or many, out(law)(s).

We have an array of events, come along for these or just to see our installations and works in place.


Opening Times:

September 2019
Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays 10am-6pm

For events check the out(Law) Facebook Site.