Category Archives: Art

We had a ripping time

David Smith destroying some of his unopened #Letter365 pieces
Pretending to enjoy tearing up my work

Saturday 11 April 2015 – the final day of the #Letter386 installation in the Allsop Gallery at Bridport Arts Centre – saw the destruction of the unopened pieces. Fortunately there was a last minute reprieve for a further 3 months so in the end only a little over 80 pieces were torn up be me with a little help from my friends.

David Smith and audience members rip up unopened pieces
With a little help from my friends

More than 75% of the work was saved from destruction and in so many ways the whole project was a great success with lots of great feedback and visitors returning 4 and 5 times to see the work unfold as new days were revealed. For me the greatest pleasure came from seeing how many people were prepared to spend the time to let the work weave a story with them. The number of coinciences was phenominal and I hope to write about some of them in the coming days.

#Letter365 fragments go in the bin
Torn up and binned

And what of the remains of the unopened ones. The sack is in my studio awaiting my attention. The initial plan of a public conflagration had to be shelved because of bureaucracy and the shredding didn’t happen as I couldn’t get my hands on a sturdy enough shredder in time so the letters and contents are mostly in quarters or smaller, all mixed up. Before this I had been toying with making some work out of torn up paper stuck back together: like letters  from someone’s bin. I never realised I could have the perfect source of materials! At present I think it is likely I will pulp it all further and make paper out of it. Decisions still to be made!

Installation ends Saturday 11 April with destruction of unopened letters

#Letter365 installation showing July and August letters all open
July and August all open

My #Letter365 installation has gone better than I could have imagined for a small town in rural Dorset. I am delighted to relate that more than 50% of the letters have been sold and will be open and on show in the Allsop Gallery at Bridport Arts Centre until the show ends tomorrow 11 April 2015 at 4pm.

At 2pm tomorrow I will begin publicly destroying all the unopened works – unless, that is, kind people make me offers I cannot refuse. Individual pieces are still available and can be bought from the Arts Centre in person or online and I am happy to consider low but sensible offers to save remaining pieces in lots of whole months. Contact me if you have a proposal.

Sadly bureaucracy prevents me from publicly burning them and I haven’t had time to source a big shredder so I will resort to tearing and slashing it all.

Thank you for all the support

What people are saying about #Letter365 – the installation

Preview Evening in the Allsop gallery
Plenty of discussion at the #Letter365 Preview Evening

I realise that am behind with news of the #Letter365 installation. The Preview Evening went very well and was well attended. The Artist’s Talk went fine and most of the small audience stayed for the “reveal”. There has been a fair flow of people through each week and a lot of interest has been generated. Here are some of the comments written about the installation:

“This is the first time in over 10 years I have come to an exhibition at BAC & thought I was in Tate Modern. Stylish, accomplished & v. thought provoking. Loved the actual envelopes & the mysteries”

“It’s like looking in a kaleidoscope! Total overwhelm – and – I will be back!”

“Fabulous idea & really creative project – loved the comments on the envelopes too!”

“Fabulous, wonderful display, can’t wait to see it evolve”

“An impressive and evolving exhibition – neat idea – all that work over 1 year. It reveals itself on many levels”

“I love this town and I love David Smith’s work. Great idea”


“Absolutely wonderful!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

“A staggeringly wonderful experience – so exciting & thought & dream provoking”

But perhaps the best are some less complimentary ones which proves the points I am making with the work:

“Excessively minimal”

“Pretentious. moi?”

“So you see fit to set yourself up as arbiter of good art? ‘I know more about this than you” – how insufferably pompous and self-regarding.”

Perhaps when I have more time I will develop the discussion on these responses but for now I leave it to you to make up your own mind.

Finally showing the final one

#Letter365 No356's envelope
Front of envelope of No365

It’s been a busy couple of days and I was totally exhausted. I have finally managed to put this image of the very last one. As you can see from the envelope it contains a wad of fifties and genuine artwork by the Chapman brothers. Of course nobody will believe that but it really is true!

I couldn’t manage to organise a celebrity to deliver the last one (nor all the other ideas I had for the launch night) so i gave the last one to Bob Dron, who was helping me install the work, to carry in to the gallery.

Bob Dron delivers the very last #Lette365
Bob Dron delivers the very last #Lette365

I will sift through the images that others have given me of the opening and perhaps put a little gallery up of the PV and the installation in the coming days as well as documenting the unfolding evolution of the work and any pieces I create in the Gallery during the exhibition.

Never delivered in this way before

#Letter365 No364 rests on our kitchen table
No364 rests on our kitchen table

I realised earlier that I have never asked Sally, my partner, to deliver one of my #Letter365 pieces. As she is out at choir at present I have left a note with the letter on our kitchen table. I am pretty confident that she will pop it in to the Arts Centre tomorrow.

I really like today’s piece. I admit that the idea has been banging around in me ever since I started and I was set up to do it today, but I am more than pleased how it all tuned out. I like the concept, the subject/s and the way it looks. Mind you I am so tired with the installation and all that I nearly left it in the studio! I had put my coat on and switched out the light and realised I had not photographed it and put it in an envelope!

Last one tomorrow!!

For a birthday on a birthday

#Letter365 No364 goes on the pile with the rest at the installation
No364 goes on the pile with the rest at the installation

It’s my daughter’s birthday today so No363 is for her. It is also my birthday today. We nearly always spend our birthdays together but sadly for me she cannot this year as she is working on the new Knights of the Round Table film. I hope she likes it!

Installing #Letter365 in the Allsop Gallery
Installing #Letter365 in the Allsop Gallery

The installation has been going well and all the envelopes are now up on the wall apart from the next two days and two which seem to be missing in action . Investigation to follow!

I have lots to write about coming out of the process of installing the work and feelings and emotions it is engendering: I certainly didn’t realise just how much the installation – the physical placement of the envelopes on the wall – relates to my other work. Even though I designed it pretty much from the start to be the way it is, it has really knocked me out how much it is like one of my field drawings, including the act of measuring out and pinning the envelopes to the wall. It really is a field drawing in itself, only instead of the usual imperial size, this is a monster 30m by 2.5m!

I will come back to some of the issues raised today, but I have other chores to do and my energy levels need to be monitored if I’m to get everything done. I may tweet more later this evening, but I have 5 weeks when the show is on to ponder on these things.

I think it’s going to be alright

The first months to be pinned up
The first months to be pinned up

The installation of #Letter365 has begun and you can see from the photo how this project and installation relates to my field drawings. This is just a detail of the first two months to be put up. When complete there will be almost 30 metres of envelopes in the grid and then the regular grid will be disrupted as the sold items are opened and the contents spill out, some requiring the moving of other envelopes.  I am finally beginning to get excited and confident that it will be OK.

This morning as I walked in to the Arts Centre I got a Twitter DM  asking if I would like #Letter365 to have a write up on the artistscribbles blog. Of course I said yes and when I read I was knocked out: a warm endorsement from someone who “gets” my work. It was a real boost to get me through a tough day. You can read it here:…/

The installation begins but I did No362 first

#Letter365 No362 get put straight in the storage box with the rest
No point in posting No362 – just put it in the box with all the others!

I had hoped to finish today’s piece this morning before I went to the Arts Centre to commence but even though I had planned what I was doing in advance I had to go back at lunchtime to finish it off.

I will write a bit about the start of the install later but I need to get some food now!

I am going to cheat for the last four days

#Letter365 No361 gets posted
No361 goes in the post box

Tomorrow I have to start installing this giant piece of work and I have loads of other things I need to get done, so I have decided that it is sensible if I CHEAT for the last few days. It’s for my sanity you see. I can’t afford to get stressed about it all as I have a deadline to meet. So what I have decided is that I will cheat! Not out-and-out cheating just a bit of advanced preparation. I will of course still create the pieces each day but I have already got two ideas which I will gather the materials for so that I have something I can execute swiftly on the day. Of course this is not much different from having sketchbooks that I could rummage about in on a day when I was short of inspiration. It’s an insurance policy to ensure that everything gets done and to be honest there have often been times when I have thought in advance the broad direction I might explore the next day, it’s just this is much more worked on. Like I say, the artwork will be made on the day but not quite as “from scratch” as is the norm.