First published: Spring 1997
It isn't easy, being an outsider. Once elected, there are appearances to be kept up: the solitary lifestyle, the nutty habits, the freedom from artistic influences. Above all, indifference to earning money. Scrounging for canvas and paint, going without luxuries such as food and socks, are all part of the life of austerity that one's public demands. In the end, the outsider's surest way of proving his integrity is to be dead.
Albert Louden, Britain's best known living outsider, has had enough of the outsider lifestyle. When I met him he committed the ultimate indiscretion. He described himself as an artist. Thin, balding, and suffering from ligaments torn by weight lifting, he is at 54 as prolific as ever. However one chooses to classify the swelling, swirling figure and landscape paintings stacked throughout his home (dare one call it his studio?) – they mark him as one of the century's most original and powerful image-makers.