Category Archives: Process

Installation ends Saturday 11 April with destruction of unopened letters

#Letter365 installation showing July and August letters all open
July and August all open

My #Letter365 installation has gone better than I could have imagined for a small town in rural Dorset. I am delighted to relate that more than 50% of the letters have been sold and will be open and on show in the Allsop Gallery at Bridport Arts Centre until the show ends tomorrow 11 April 2015 at 4pm.

At 2pm tomorrow I will begin publicly destroying all the unopened works – unless, that is, kind people make me offers I cannot refuse. Individual pieces are still available and can be bought from the Arts Centre in person or online and I am happy to consider low but sensible offers to save remaining pieces in lots of whole months. Contact me if you have a proposal.

Sadly bureaucracy prevents me from publicly burning them and I haven’t had time to source a big shredder so I will resort to tearing and slashing it all.

Thank you for all the support

Never delivered in this way before

#Letter365 No364 rests on our kitchen table
No364 rests on our kitchen table

I realised earlier that I have never asked Sally, my partner, to deliver one of my #Letter365 pieces. As she is out at choir at present I have left a note with the letter on our kitchen table. I am pretty confident that she will pop it in to the Arts Centre tomorrow.

I really like today’s piece. I admit that the idea has been banging around in me ever since I started and I was set up to do it today, but I am more than pleased how it all tuned out. I like the concept, the subject/s and the way it looks. Mind you I am so tired with the installation and all that I nearly left it in the studio! I had put my coat on and switched out the light and realised I had not photographed it and put it in an envelope!

Last one tomorrow!!

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:…/

I am going to cheat for the last four days

#Letter365 No361 gets posted
No361 goes in the post box

Tomorrow I have to start installing this giant piece of work and I have loads of other things I need to get done, so I have decided that it is sensible if I CHEAT for the last few days. It’s for my sanity you see. I can’t afford to get stressed about it all as I have a deadline to meet. So what I have decided is that I will cheat! Not out-and-out cheating just a bit of advanced preparation. I will of course still create the pieces each day but I have already got two ideas which I will gather the materials for so that I have something I can execute swiftly on the day. Of course this is not much different from having sketchbooks that I could rummage about in on a day when I was short of inspiration. It’s an insurance policy to ensure that everything gets done and to be honest there have often been times when I have thought in advance the broad direction I might explore the next day, it’s just this is much more worked on. Like I say, the artwork will be made on the day but not quite as “from scratch” as is the norm.

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?

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.

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.