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November 25, 2013 By Andy Ross

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Imagine

The Imagine series of documentaries on iPlayer is well-worth seeing.

The  programmes in the current series that are available on the player, (Apologies for those outside the UK; it is only available in this format in Britain due to copyright restrictions.) are wonderfully eclectic, from outsider art to Jimmi Hendrix. It has been the outsider art programme that we particularly enjoyed this week.

Outsider art is art made by people with no formal training in art. It is simply an expression of their personality and individualism, and provides us with an insight into how others live their lives and see the world. Mostly ignored by the formal art world for decades (although Henry Boxer is a notable exception) it is now being recognised and celebrated with a large showing at the Venice Biennale, a show at the Wellcome Trust recently, and at the Hayward Gallery, and there are wonderful things being done with art centres and workshop spaces for people to celebrate their artistic talents, as shown in the programme.

The power of art to celebrate life and bring order to chaos can be hugely beneficial and therapeutic. I have seen it first-hand in the work that we have been doing with Alzheimer's Scotland where I am working with Alice Mullay, a music therapist who uses instruments to encourage people to explore. It is quite humbling and amazing to see what happens at these sessions, and I am full of admiration for the dignity and strength of people in difficult circumstances. Long may art continue to ride to the rescue...