Category Archives: Bridport Arts centre

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.

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:…/

What others are saying

Here is what David Hutchinson, former guide at Tate Modern, has written about my work:

I’m really looking forward to David Smith’s #LETTER365 installation.  I was blown away by his earlier #Collage365 show. The discipline of making an artwork a day was a huge commitment, but what shone through on the walls was rich artistry unfolding before your eyes.  Fragments of found objects,  images,  colours, and lines were put together with invention, emotion and wit. You could pick out your own themes and variations, surprises, puzzles and delights.

The #LETTER365 installation in the Allsop Gallery at Bridport Arts Centre will continue this I’m sure – plus the challenging conceptual twists of buying sight unseen, with the installation only revealing what’s been bought.

I can’t wait to see the randomly selected piece I’ve bought, how the installation changes, and – most challenging of all?  –  the final bonfire of the vanities.


Two #Letter365 postings today

Postage due payment card goes in the box
Postage due payment card goes in the box

“How can that be” you say, “two #Letter365 postings on one day?” Well as you can see from the image above it was me that had to cough up for the fact I forgot the stamp the other day. Of course, when presented with the Post Office card, I couldn’t just nip round to the sorting office and pick it up as I’m not supposed to touch it again till we install the show. So I had to get the stamps and send off the card to get the piece delivered. Later in the day I popped No337 in the same post box.

#Letter365 No337 goes in the post
No337 gets posted

Now the thing about No337 is I found it difficult at first to appraise its quality. I had been busy all day and just come from a meeting with Laura and Megan at Arts Centre planning the installation and though I had the idea quite quickly, my head was in a different space. It took me a while to move from the administrative state I was in and reconnect with my art life. I suppose you could say I should have trusted my instinct whatever state I was in – and I am very pleased with the result – but I had to be sure. It was worthwhile to have to find a way to switch states quickly so I now have some useful techniques at my command.

News just in: snail mail snail seen on the cycle way

The snail mail snail
This snail mail snail was seen on the cycle way between Bradpole and Bridport

A report has come in that a giant banded snail mail snail, Helix preposterous, was seen yesterday on the cycleway near the Coop heading towards Bridport. Just such a snail was last seen on the 12th October 2014 collecting #Letter365 No220 for delivery. Has the snail still got the piece? Has it eaten it? Will it get to Bridport Arts Centre in time? Is it indeed the same creature? Only time will tell!

It all worked out well in the end apart from the stamp!

#Letter365 No316 goes in the box
No316 gets posted near to time!

I have been busy all day, much of it on #Letter365 business and I hadn’t the chance to do my piece earlier. This evening we went to the private view of the new show “Theatre of the Soul” at the Bridport Arts Centre and then off for a meal with some new friends. I never really had a major concern that it would come good but I admit to a minor concern especially as it took longer than anticipated to create the envelope. In the end it worked out better than I ever could have hoped. I had to drop the idea I originally had  as I knew I could never complete it on time. A chance find (I am always open to serendipity) added a structural element and a reference to modern art and my response to that particular subject.

Sadly, in my haste to make sure it got posted before midnight I forgot the stamp. I forgot the stamp partly because I had forgotten/had no time to buy any first class stamps today. i had intended to use a second class stamp and annotate it with something like “second class post but still first class art”. I forgot that too. So something had to give in my haste but I trust the artwork didn’t suffer.

I thought of a great headline but forgot it!

#Letter365 No293 gets delivered by hand
Delivered by hand again: No293

Walking round to the Arts Centre I thought of a brilliant headline and how I would write this blog entry but it went totally out of mind when I realised that I had omitted an apostrophe from my message on the envelope: worse than that I realised that I had done the same yesterday but not seen it. Woe, woe and, thrice, woe!

Front of #Letter365 No293's envelope
Front of No293’s envelope