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.
I used initial caps for the headline and didn’t use the hyphen I feel it should have in order to reference the social realist film with Tom Courtney. I was thinking how long-distance runners must sometimes be running on will power alone in the last stages of the race. They are often out there alone for a long time and have to muster every once of strength for that last stretch. The last few miles before entering the stadium are the lowest and loneliest I would guess. I was thinking that because I am now tired of this. There is so much to do for the installation and all that surrounds it (and I have other things I need to work on so I can use the momentum to move on to other things afterwards) and I have completely run out of energy. If only I was really burning fat instead of getting fat! It is mostly an act of will that keeps me going. It almost feels as if I should give up before the end. What artistic statement would that make? The long-distance runner collapses just short of the line!
Anyway I was thinking these things and obviously the film came to mind. In a way it is about the same things as my work. The Tom Courtney character is a rebellious young man and the Prison Governor (or is it a borstal or reform school?) tries to instil discipline through a repetitive action (running) but underestimates the power of the chaotic and disruptive forces that flow through the young man.
In my earlier post today I mentioned my abiding interest the interplay between order and chaos and how a stream of my work is made up of many repetitive actions interrupted and disturbed by random chaotic influences. This piece, Mystery Evolves, which I completed a few days ago, is an example of just such a “field” drawing. And while this piece will not be exhibited in my #Letter365 show at Bridport Arts Centre it is relevant to both the project and the installation. The year-long project has been a repetitive action – the daily creation of an artwork and its dispatch to the Arts Centre – which has been affected by unruly elements sometimes beyond my control. The installation will be an ordered arrangement of the envelopes interrupted by the opening and display of the contents – and who knows what else.
I will be exhibiting some of field drawings and tidelines pieces with the #Letter365 pieces to help place it into a broader context of my current work.
It’s a lonely life being an artist with whom nobody wants to work, so it’s good sometimes to have a moment of social interaction by delivering today’s piece by hand to the Arts Centre. It also saves me the price of a stamp, which is increasingly important when I realise how much it is costing me to stage this affair!
I wrote a bit of stuff on the envelope today so I thought I had better show that too:
The interesting (if only to me) bit is how I am pretending to be casual and just repeating things but in fact am finding that the act of repetition (if that is what I am doing) engenders accidental and intentional actions that lead to new and involving ideas. And that is what all of my work is about really: how repetitive actions get disrupted and create something different. It makes me wonder if Nature gets bored with doing the same thing all the time (like I do with repetitive drawing) and adds a curlicue here and twirl there. How else can evolution occur?
Yesterday I said that I might just do a version of the same thing each day for the rest of the project. Now for all anyone knows that’s what I have been doing all along. Actually I can tell you that is not the case, there has been a great variety of things in different styles and media. Of course I may be lying about that. Just as when I tell you that I have been true to my word and today’s piece is basically the same as yesterday’s I could be messing with your head. Well which is it?
I was doing #Collage365 – a collage a day for a year – before this project, but the projects overlapped by 18 days. That means today marks 700 days on the trot on which I have created an artwork due to my self-imposed commitments. I have not had a day off for 700 days!
Anyway, earlier this evening I was saying to Sally, my partner, that I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do for today’s piece. Then jokingly I said, “perhaps I’ll do the same as yesterday.” It’s not such a bad idea, especially since in the last 4 days I will be very busy installing the show! It would be good to settle on an idea and just do a new version of it every day – or not!
There is not really any connection between the headline and today’s piece. I mention the bees on the envelope and subliminally my visit to our apiaries my have influenced the work I suppose, but really the inspiration came from something in the studio.
Well there you go: the opposite of yesterday really. There was no way I could forget my daughter-in-law’s birthday so in the end I didn’t try. In fact I kept her in mind and did something I think she would like and It turned out good. So that has just disproved some of what I said yesterday!
I try to forget about the purchaser if a piece has been sold before I do the work. There is the temptation to try to do what I think the person may like and the fear they wont like it: thoughts that are not conducive to producing good, original work. Today’s piece is on a day I well know whose it is and so I made the envelope last night to try to cut out all thoughts and reminders, but just as I went off to the studio I remembered! As it turns out I am playing with a number of themes general and so was able to switch into that stream of work and concentrate – though I had to work on something else unrelated for a while to build up speed. When I had finished and happy I then thought the buyers will probably like that and I sort of went in to a mini panic and I thought of starting again to change a tiny little thing in some misplaced effort to please. Then I realised my “improvement” was actually something that made it less subtle – then I knew I was right not to change anything!
Really and truly I just want to do some drawing or cut some lino or splosh some paint about, but I have stuff to do if I am to pull this show off and make it a success. So you might see that there are new menu items on the site here, which take you to pages with all the info you need to make as much sense of this project and installation as anyone can have! I have been working pretty solidly on this kind of work for a few days now and it is pretty hard to focus when you have to deal with a diving suit, but let me loose in the studio and I am up and at ’em! This is pretty important really as I had no idea what I might do for today’s piece, but all is well. Later I watched a documentary about Kraftwerk and thought “that’s interesting, there was some of that about in what I did at the studio.”
An unfolding artwork created a piece each day for a year