Category Archives: Meaning

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.

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

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.

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

Delivered by hand because I am poor and sad

Beki takes delivery of #Latter365 No349
Beki takes delivery of No349

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 front of the envelope of No346
The front of the envelope of No346

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?

When you invest in #Letter365 you buy something with a story

What do you get for your money when you buy a #Letter365 piece? You get a story: a story of how you were an art visionary; how you instantly understood the whole wonder of unseen art. You’ll laugh and joke as you tell the story and your friends will think you deep and intellectual; they will think you know a lot about art. You can tell them about meeting the artist at the private view of the installation, of the deep conversation you had, how amusing and witty you both were. You’ll talk of all the other influential art aficionados you met there and glow with pride.

Small but meaningful acts of kindness

#Letter365 No334 gets posted
No334 goes in the box

I am so thankful for the acts of kindness people do for each other unbidden and even undeserved. It does so much to restore my faith in humanity and offset all the thoughtless, cruel, carping, greedy and petty things we are subject to each day. I am so often amazed that most people are courteous and wish no harm to others and can often act altruistically and generously.

Today I have been working with a friend who has very generously provided his time, skill, art and ideas to enrich this project. It is interesting how a number of artists and performers have expressed interest in contributing to this project but until today it has just been one person that has  turned a little interest into action. Today, while we were working on the project another artist approached me with offers of help in a different way. These acts make it easier to bite my tongue and try to have patience with some of the less generous and thoughtful experiences of the day. And it would be great if some of the previous offers could come good! Fingers crossed!

Balance is a funny thing

#Letter365 No329 goes in the box in a moody light
No329 gets posted

It’s sometimes as difficult to get the right balance in a piece of work as it is to create a state of equilibrium in a life. Tension and fragility: stress and strength. Without the long pole it is harder for the tightrope walker to walk erect without wobbling; without peace and principles it is difficult for a life to have stability; without aesthetics and intelligence it is hard for a piece of art to have meaning.