Tag Archives: conceptual art

Magic: like a rabbit out of a hat

#Letter365 No360 goes in the postbox
No360 gets posted

I am a bit like Psycho Killer at the moment “tense and nervous, can’t relax, I can’t sleep ’cause my bed’s on fire, Don’t touch me I’m a real live wire” so with all the other things I am trying to do (and not really succeeding) I was beginning to worry about how I would come up with something. Even worse I started with something that requires a bit of time/elapsed time. I had photography and mounting to get to grips with so after starting the piece I had to put it to one side and concentrate on photographing the work that I am mounting for the browser in the installation while the light was ok.

Now here is an interlude: the mention of Psycho Killer called out to the unseen worlds and brought me IT annoyances to  make me angry and frustrated, wasting my time and draining my creativity. I thought in the past that the occasional odd loss of data in WordPress was because the session had expired. I changed the setting to not log me out but still, just once in a while, it lets me carry on working on a post and when I go to publish the post it says “are you sure you want to do this?” and whichever your answer is you lose the page and the last bit of the entry. Normally just a slight occurrence because of the regular auto-save of the draft, but just occasionally it doesn’t seem to have saved the last 20 minutes or something. Like today! Arrggghhhh!! Oh yes and the it helpfully tells me that the back up is different to the draft you are working on: hopes rise and you open it in another tab to fin it is identical to what you are working on. I hate computers. And phones for that matter. Every time Android has an update (we are on “Lollipop” [puke] now) I have a breakdown. Rather than an enhanced experience they tinker the GUI so you waste hours finding ways to restore what you had or find a workaround all for the sake of something that is “cool” rather than efficient. Rant over!

Now you can’t really expect me to find the wit and words I had written before and though I appreciate the loyalty of the 5 or so people who look at this once in a while to be honest I can’t be arsed to try to recreate the mood and resonance. Suffice to say No360 turned out very well when I was expecting to struggle.

Afterthought: maybe my computer annoyances are due to inanimate objection?  “Inanimate Objection” is a SF short story by H. Chandler Elliott which I remember reading on the plane back from holiday in Spain in, probably, 1965. In it a man is increasingly plagued by the objects around him being actively hostile. This morning I made a note in my sketchbook about making assemblages from old phones under the series name, Communication Breakdown. Perhaps this was a warning shot across my bows from the increasingly hostile world of electronics?

After 359 days it’s hard to find stuff to say

#Letter365 No359 gets posted
No359 goes in the box

What do I say? I have been working at all the things I have to do to make the installation a success and to present other relevant work to put it all in context (and grab the opportunity to present pieces to a wider audience with the hope that people might buy it!) I have selected some pieces to mount for display in browsers and started to put them together. I am aiming to have about 20 pieces, but I won’t stress if I can’t get it all together for the opening night, I can always add some as the show progresses – after all it is continually unfolding! I have also picked up the pieces I am submitting to Drawn the drawing open at RWA.

So I have created a piece of work and, annoyingly, I didn’t have the time to play around with some ideas that arose from it. Now I feel I have to write something but I don’t have the time or energy. I will perhaps use ideas from today as a start for tomorrow but enough words for now.

So glad I resisted fiddling about with this one

#Letter365 No357 goes in the box
No357 gets posted

Sometimes things just need a time to build and evolve and then you just have to sit with it until you know it’s right. This one turned out almost exactly as I had planned it but along the way I kept wanting to change it, doubting that original vision. Yes there was some fine tuning but when I finished I saw that the tinkering would not have worked. It also  has given me some ideas I want to work on and I can see ways where I may take it into media I am less practiced with.

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

Tired, excited, frayed, busy – and that’s just the art!

#Letter365 No354 goes in the post box
No354 gets posted

So much I want to do and so little time, but that is all part of it. What gets done gets done and the rest can be for another time. I have been quite busy and reasonably effective today (at least until tonight) and I reckon that I am still a couple of days behind schedule. Having said that I had some successes in the studio with other things that will allow me to move forward following this project.

I left a good idea at home but found another at the studio

#Letter365 No323 goes in the box
No353 gets posted on a rainy day

I was kicking myself when I got to the studio as the idea I had for today involved something that I had to prepare at home. Fortunately I am not short of creative ideas and one just jumped on me when I got to the studio. In hindsight it may not have been the best idea as it took much longer than I thought, and I had other things I needed to get on with there so I was out far longer than planned. All worth it in the end I hope.

I was going to do something but did something else

#Letter365 No352 gets posted
No352 goes in the box

I, yesterday, may or may not have done something based on the day before and today I intended to do something based on the day before that (or not). Now, as I was starting I realised that it was not what interested me or excited me just then. I discarded that idea and played around with some other ideas and gradually got into the territory and started to get interested and it all came together. I thought it was quite different to yesterday’s (or not) but now I come to process the images I see that it has some similar traits and themes to yesterday (or is completely different to yesterday’s and sharing no similarities in colour, shape, form, structure, etc.) Now isn’t that interesting (or not at all interesting)?

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.


The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner

#Letter365 No350 goes in the post
No350 gets posted in the rain

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.