2 August, 2013 started out as a regular Friday at my Gallery in Dartford – people queuing at the door eager to buy my latest artwork, that kind of thing. By midday a couple approached me and started to discuss ‘Outsider Art’, the man asked if I had heard of the artist Kim Noble. I hadn’t, so he continued to briefly explain who she was and the circumstances in which she creates her artwork. I was talking to James Noble, Kim’s father.
Kim Noble is the name that most people know her by, but the artwork she produces has been created by many different personalities – Kim has *Dissociative Identity Disorder (D.I.D., formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder).
After talking to James and hearing a lot about Kim and her alters, I immediately placed an order for her book ‘All of Me’ – a biography co-written with Jeff Hudson. If you are interested in art and the mind, this book is a must read.
Monday, 19 August, 2013 was a special day for me; I had an appointment to meet Kim at her home, and view the work of many artists. I took along a couple of prints of my artwork as a thank you to Kim and Aimee for inviting me over – the previous day had been Aimee’s birthday. I must admit I was a little nervous about meeting Kim for the first time – it’s not everyday that I get to meet a single person that represents many different artistic personalities.
Kim is very hospitable and immediately made me feel welcome in their home. After we talked briefly about their work, and her life, Kim took me to the studio up on the first floor of the house. I needed no convincing that this small room was used as an art studio. Paint was thick on the walls where one of her artistic alters Ken, during his process for creating art, had pushed his wet canvases, heavy with acrylic paint, onto the surface of the wallpaper. Acrylic was pretty thick on the floor as well – just as any decent studio should be. Kim put down spare pieces of carpet just outside the door so that the artists could wipe their feet and not walk the paint all over the house.
On the next floor is an attic room used to store many, but by no means all, of their finished artwork. Kim showed me examples of the different styles from some of her alters. Each artist tells a different ‘story’ through their work:
- Abi tends to show solitary people, painted in a naturalistic style set in a monotone, seemingly lonely, scene.
- Bonny’s work very often features anatomical versions of the humanoid form – sometimes very explicit self-expression. Groups of people figure strongly in her work.
- Anon – very little is known about this personality – likes to apply paint to the canvas with a palette knife, squeeze additional paint from the tube and then manipulate the squeezed paint to form ghostly, or angelic, figures.
After spending some time looking at her work, I asked Kim if she would mind me taking one of Ken’s pieces to show as a Guest Artist in my Gallery in Dartford. She gave me ‘African Woman’, a piece done in typical Ken style with high texture peaks and swirls of acrylic paint.
We made our way back down to the ground floor for a cuppa. Kim told me about a team from the BBC coming to film for a new episode in the ‘Imagine’ series of TV programs. Probably to be screened sometime in November, this episode is going to explore the genre ‘Outsider Art’ – a hard to pin-down and define branch of the arts.
I left Kim and Aimee’s house trying to imagine the different scenarios of creativity that happen in their small studio up on the 1st floor.
Much more of Kim’s work can be seen on her web pages – www.kimnobleartist.com
*Dissociative identity disorder is characterised by the presence of two or more distinct or split identities or personality states that continually have power over the person’s behaviour. With dissociative identity disorder there is also an inability to recall key personal information that is too far-reaching to be explained as mere forgetfulness.
All images copyright © 2010 Kim Noble.