LAURA CARTLEDGE: Exhibition at the Pallant is the best ever and shows art at its best ...

WHAT is art? That is the question.

Art is just one of those things isn’t it? Either you are interested or you aren’t.

You can either appreciate the complex thought processes behind an unmade bed or...Well actually no. Ignore that bit.

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With the country tightening its belt art funding has taken some hard cuts.

Rightly so – some may think.

But the truth is when the going gets tough the art gets better.

Like the ‘make do and mend’ mentality, many artists want to use their skills to try and fix things.

Highlight issues and present them in a different light.

If you doubt the importance of art I challenge you to go and see the Outside In exhibition at Pallant House, Chichester.

I would go as far as saying it is the best exhibition I have ever seen.

All the work has been created by people ‘on the margins’.

Some have been sectioned, some have physical disabilities or have struggled with addiction.

For whatever reason they are outside of the art mainstream. But often this reason is the very thing which makes their work so compelling.

As a result the information plaque next to each piece is as important as the work itself.

“The only thing which makes any sense in my life is my artwork,” explains one.

While another needs no explaining as the title is simply called “Look what I can do.”

Just 80 works and three rooms, but it has such a depth.

Managing to be sad but uplifting, disturbing and reassuring all at once.

Something this year’s prestigious Turner Art Prize could only dream of.

One quote stopped me in my tracks -

“I’m the infant always – art is my cradle.”

It’s simple, it’s powerful and it stays with you long after you have left the gallery.

I think I might have found my answer.

This is art.