Category Archives: Polly Gifford

Just caught the post

#Letter365 No202 gets taken by the postie
No202 gets taken by the postie

I know it’s a madness but then that is what this is all about: oddness, obsession and madness. It is madness because to post this piece I went out of my way on my journey between my studio and Bridport Arts Centre for the AGM and Polly Gifford‘s leaving do. But I had already put the stamp on so what could I do?

The piece itself revisits a recurring and constant theme with some more recent vocabulary.

Who’s stolen my box?

Jill Beed takes delivery of #Letter365 No194
Lovely Jill Beed takes delivery of No194

I was thinking that I hadn’t delivered one by hand recently and thought Thursday would be good because we are at a gig at Bridport Arts Centre that night. Then I realised that there was a new stamp issue and it would be good to do a first day cover. So I thought I would wander round there and take a last look at the Greta Berlin show before it finishes. So imagine my surprise when I saw the box was missing! I don’t know: Polly Gifford, the Director, is leaving soon to take up a new exciting role in Hastings and already the place is falling apart! Lovely Jill took delivery and certainly makes a much more interesting and colourful photo than my hand holding an envelope by a box! She said the box had broken. The question is, “how?” When Rothko’s painting was vandalised at the Tate it was in all the Media. My work is removed without a how-do-you-do let alone a splash in the local press!

I never did that before

#Letter365 No184 goes in the box
No184 I never did that before

We are really lucky in Bridport. For a very small town we have loads going on. The flags in Bucky Doo Square for the Hat Festival today proclaim us a Britain’s Eventful Town. We have a film festival, a book festival, a literary festival, three performing stages and a number of pubs and other venues for music and events. One of the key arts sites is the Bridport Arts Centre where this project will be installed in March 2014. LIke all public arts venues the Arts Centre, celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, is always in need of funds. We are lucky to get people willing to give their time and performances to aid the cause: on of these was Mark Knopfler who appeared in conversation with Polly Gifford, the Arts Centre Director, to talk about his career and music. I can remember him talking about how he needed to have a little riff to let the audience know what song it was but that mostly he just improvised and it was different every time. He was playing guitar as he talked and a number of times said “I’ve never played that before”. Well I can honestly say about today’s piece, “I’ve never done that before”. The combination of surface treatment, format, materials and even the style of the marks and structures are totally new – and yet it sits in the flow of my work in a way that you can tell it is by me even though it is quite radically different to what I have done in the project before or even through all my work. Oh, by the way, I really rather like it!

Back of #Letter365 No184
Back of No184

An exciting new progression in the #Letter365 project

Polly Gifford tests the new #Letter365 box
Polly Gifford tests the new #Letter365 box

The new #Letter365 box has arrived! Polly Gifford, Director of Bridport Arts Centre, emailed me yesterday to tell me she had taken delivery of the new perspex container for my #Letter365 pieces to be collected and displayed. The box is going to be installed tomorrow in the foyer of the Arts Centre next to the box office along with information about the project as it progresses. Hopefully it will become and remain a talking point and help to create interest and momentum.  So thanks Polly and sorry that the team will have to walk a little further to store each letter!

I started on today’s piece quite early this morning as I was going to be out all day. I am glad I did because I was out longer than expected and got a bit hijacked by other events. My car is a bit poorly and I thought it best not to drive to Dorchester today, so it took a bit of extra time out of the day, especially as it was quite late on the way back. What with everything else (including a nice Curry at the Taj Mahal) it was gone 9pm before I got to the studio again. Fortunately I was pretty happy with it and just needed to make a few adjustments before packaging it up and posting it (in the drizzle)

#Letter365 No55 gets posted
No55 goes in the box in light rain

Polly attempts the double rabbit for No36

Shadow shapes
Polly tries the double rabbit but it comes out a bit goatish, while Christopher’s cock pheasant and calf’s foot get obliterated

Clearly inspired by my recent successes with shadows that look like a rabbit holding a credit card between its ear and its nose, Polly Gifford and Christopher Winter went for high-scoring but difficult counter responses as #Letter365 No36 is delivered at tonight’s PV of Christopher’s solo show. at Bridport Arts Centre. Polly’s attempt at the double rabbit unfortunately has ended up with goatish features, while Christopher’s quite radical rendition of the cock pheasant and calf’s foot – a combination rarely seen these days – has been obliterated by a square shape presumably conjured from the spirit worlds.

This was directly following Christopher giving a séance performance in which he channelled Picasso who did some drawings using Christopher’s hand to guide the pen.

Christopher Winter preparing to channel Picasso
Christopher Winter preparing to channel Picasso

Berlin-based Christopher has channelled the drawing talents of many dead artists, starting with Hans Holbein the Younger. The table at which he is seated takes its inspiration from the perspectivally-distorted, foreshortened skull in Holbein’s painting The Ambassadors. Winter’s work is one in which the seemingly mundane and day-to-day is disturbed and distorted by random, etherial oddities so it was only fitting that when he graciously agreed to deliver today’s #Letter365 piece he should aim for it to levitate into Polly’s hands.

Christopher Winter levitates #Letter365 No36 into Polly Gifford's hands
Christopher Winter levitates #Letter365 No36 into Polly Gifford’s hands

Love it, hate it

David Smith delivers first #Letter365 to Polly Gifford - article in Bridport News
Nice piece in the Bridport News today

I am going to have to get used to seeking publicity. I hate having my picture in the paper and doing self promotion, but I know that it is a vital part of the business of being an artist. So I am pleased to get a half-page slash in our local paper the Bridport News and know I have to aim for plenty more pieces – locally and further afield – if I am to make a real success of the #Letter365 project.

I wrote the outline of the press release and the Arts Centre tidied it up and sent it out but I am not sure to which other publications it may have gone. I think I need to build my own list of helpful press release recipients. Please help and let me know the best people to send out to.

Wine and art – a perfect pairing

Polly Gifford accepts #Letter365 No19 in the Arts Centre bar
Polly Gifford accepts No19 in the Arts Centre bar

“Wine and art – a perfect pairing” is what we called the preview evening for our group show “Five artists at the Chapel in the Garden” last August.  Tonight’s delivery of #Letter365 No19 was a much quieter affair. Polly bought me a drink to celebrate successfully completing #Collage365 and the film was good so a fine result all round.

The first delivery

David Smith & Polly Gifford outside Bridport Arts Centre
Delivering the first #Letter365 to Polly Gifford outside Bridport Arts Centre

I met with Polly Gifford to sort out the details of the #Letter365 project and exhibition – at least as much as we could at this stage – and I delivered the first #Letter365 envelope personally.

I am really excited to be working with Bridport Arts Centre on this unfolding, year-long project and I am grateful for Polly’s support and enthusiasm.