Tag 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!

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.

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: http://artistscribbles.com/2015/03/03/letter365…/

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!

Next Friday will be my last

#Letter365 No358 goes in the box
No358 gets posted

It’s not that I have booked for the Grim Reaper to pop round at the end of next week, but I am now on my home run. At the time of writing this in a week’s time I will have finished the Preview Evening and the world will be able to judge where on the line between genius and nutcase to put this project.

I had another look at some of the photographic record of the work I have done and feel happy that I have produced good work. It is a shame that less has been sold so far than I had hoped and I cannot see a sudden surge this week or much more than trickle over the weeks. But I will have a story to tell and I will have made a mark with the largest piece I have ever made. It would have been different in a city but little old Bridport in lovely old Dorset isn’t a bad place to do it.

A crab and a stone

#Letter365 No355 gets posted
No355 goes in the box

It is likely that we will see out the rest of the project with some annotations on the envelopes related to the #Collage365 piece 045 – a crab or a stone. As the plans for the installation itself get clarified it is becoming increasingly obvious to me that this whole project and most of my other work during this last year or two have been firmly rooted in my favourite theme: the interplay between chaos and control, emotion and the intellect. I took the collage to the framer’s today and have decided to include it in the #Letter365 show as it is pivotal to the whole affair.

Collage by David Smith
#Collage365 – 045 a crab or a stone
Paper, printed elements and watercolour 229mm x 152mm

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.


What it’s all about

Mystery Evolves (detail) - ink drawing by David Smith
Mystery Evolves (detail)
Ink on Somerset paper 559mm × 762mm

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.

Mystery Evolves (detail) - ink drawing by David Smith
Mystery Evolves (detail)
Ink on Somerset paper 559mm × 762mm
Mystery Evolves (detail) - ink drawing by David Smith
Mystery Evolves (detail)
Ink on Somerset paper 559mm × 762mm
Mystery Evolves - ink drawing by David Smith
Mystery Evolves
Ink on Somerset paper 559mm × 762mm