Tag Archives: Black Squares

#BlackSquares365 – my new time-based art project

Abstract, contemporary artwork by David Smith

001
Watercolour and tape on Bockingford paper 20cm x 20cm

Yesterday I launched a new personal project, #BlackSquares365. Each and every day for the next year I will create a small artwork from scratch and post it on Instagram and Twitter before the end of the day. Each piece is available directly from me for a bargain £40 including worldwide postage* (email me for details – hopefully soon I will be able to create a safe online way to buy them).

I’m calling it “distributed art”: lots of people can own an individual, unique piece of art and at the same time hold a share of one larger artwork spread across time and space; no one person will own it all, nobody will ever see it in its entirety!

The idea that it’s a work that is deconstructed and scattered to the four corners of the globe (hopefully) fits the themes of erasure, redaction, forensics, geology and landscape that run through much of what I make. Little traces of #BlackSquares365 will be lodged far and wide: the dispersion making it harder for it to ever be completely destroyed.

Selling small pieces at a price within the reach of ordinary people appeals to my democratic sensibilities. I see it as a bit of an antidote to the high-end art market where art is a trading commodity: works of art gain prices that have little to do with the level of pleasure or intellectual stimulation they engender becoming, instead, conceptual currency notes. In that world only wealthy individuals and institutions can own large works but anyone can buy into #BlackSquares365 and get their own small piece that is itself a part of the much bigger community-owned art project.

Each piece will be 8” (20cm) square and will be signed on the reverse with date and number stamps and a brief description of the materials used. Despite the much-reduced price each will be made with the same quality materials that I use normally, such as artist’s paints and acid-free professional papers and will be made with the same care and attention as any of my work. I will use a simple quality control measure throughout which is that only work I personally would be happy to frame and have on my own walls at home is acceptable. Talking of framing, 8” x 8” will fit into standard off-the-shelf frame available from Scandinavian lifestyle superstores and other outlets (though it always pays to have things professionally framed. I will not be giving titles to anything (the prices would have to rise enormously!) If you fancy the idea of reserving a piece made on a special day that’s fine. I would expect full payment with the order. You can rest assured that I won’t let you down – I have completed two year-long projects like this before – but in the unlikely event that I gave up or was prevented from continuing I would fully refund your money.

So why Black Squares as a subject? Well that is a long story which I will weave in and out of further posts, but those who know my previous Black Squares work will know that “black is not the only colour” and “other geometric plane figures are available”!

*I can only afford to send work at the most basic postal rate and cannot be responsible for any taxes or customs duty when posting to other countries. If you require a faster or more secure delivery I am happy to arrange at cost.

Selected for Atkinson Gallery Summer Exhibition

"Heart Flips" acrylic on canvas abstract drawing by David Smith

“Heart Flips”
Acrylic on canvas 50cm x 50cm

I am pleased to have a piece selected for Atkinson Gallery Summer Exhibition 201. It is the first time I have entered a drawing on canvas into an open exhibition and its acceptance is an encouragement as I am starting to do some more work on canvas. This annual show has built a good reputation for showing an interesting collection of work in a variety of media. All work is priced under £500 so it’s a great place to build your art collection

The show runs Monday 25 June – Friday 3 August 2018 (Mon – Sat 9.30am – 5.00pm) at Atkinson Gallery, Millfield, Street, Somerset. Free admission to all. The Private view is on Monday 25 June, 7pm – 9pm – all welcome.

You Didn’t Try To Call Me

"You Didn't Try To Call Me" - Abstract collage by David Smith

“You Didn’t Try To Call Me”
Photographs, cardboard and acrylic on canvas 50cm x 50cm

The sixth offering in 50 Collages Before Christmas features more of my photographs of grids: some more from Bruce Nauman’s installation at the Hamberger Bahnhof, Berlin and some from boarded-up shopfronts in Bristol. Sometimes it is difficult to stick down collage elements in the precise positions so everything aligns exactly as I want but everything got measured, cut and positioned perfectly almost effortlessly. The photo has a little shine on the left which makes it difficult to see the small dotted marks on the photo which mimic the perforations in the cardboard – my favourite bit, except perhaps for the section centre left which delights my eye with its ever-so-slightly trompe l’oeil misleading.

You Were Meant To Follow The Plan

"You Were Meant To Follow The Plan" Abstract collage by David Smith - acrylic & cardboard on canvas

“You Were Meant To Follow The Plan”
Acrylic & cardboard on canvas 50cm x50cm

Number 5 of 50 Collages before Christmas is You Were Meant To Follow The Plan was nearly the first to be done but I could never stick to the plan!

"You Were Meant To Follow The Plan" detail of abstract collage by David Smith - acrylic & cardboard on canvas

“You Were Meant To Follow The Plan” (detail)
Acrylic & cardboard on canvas 50cm x50cm

Exhibition at the Sugar Cube Gallery

"Solid IV" Mixed media drawing by David Smith

“Solid IV”
Mixed media drawing on handmade Indian ecopaper 30cm x30cm approx

In my next show, at the Sugar Cube Gallery, Hambridge, I continue my explorations on the notion that nothing is ever completely eradicated: barely perceptible traces of every action remain like DNA signatures, capable of being read by those with the knowledge, sensitivity and technology. These traces affect what follows, whether we know it or not. Referencing crop marks, stone circles and mapmaking, a new suite of minimalist drawings using erasure and redaction will be on show along with selected work from two strands of my Black Squares series – asemic writing and “colourful black squares” plus anything else I can fit in to “the smallest gallery in Somerset”. All the pieces are small to medium in size and as such are affordably priced and would make great Christmas gifts for friends, family or a treat for yourself!

The show runs 7 November – 21 December at Sugar Cube Gallery, The Courtyard, Bowdens Farm, Hambridge, Somerset TA10 0BP Monday – Friday 9am – 4pm. There’s a preview evening on Friday 4th November 5pm – 7pm and it would be great to see everyone for a glass of fizz and a chat.

Exhibiting with Björk Haraldsdóttir at the Portmanteau Gallery

Some people reading this may be surprised to learn I am taking part in Bridport Open Studios. I have had conversations with many people about my decision not to participate in open studio events again! Then Björk Haraldsdóttir invited me to share the Portmanteau Gallery with her for BOS – an offer I could not refuse. Björk’s work is stunning and we share a similar aesthetic so I’m delighted to be exhibiting with her in what some people have already kindly predicted will be one of the highlights of Bridport Open Studios 2016

Björk creates wonderfully tactile, seductively patterned, stoneware forms that are haunted by her Icelandic heritage and architectural training. If you have not seen her work before I can thoroughly recommend you come and experience it. I believe our work complements each other’s superbly and would look great together in any home. I will be showing a selection of recent field drawings and erasures with a nod to my black squares work. I hope you will find it an exciting mix.

Bridport Open Studios flyer for Portmanteau Gallery

To celebrate me going back on my word I hope you will join Björk and me at the gallery on SATURDAY 20th AUGUST 2016 from 17.30-19.00 for a drink and private view. If you have spent the day at West Bay or touring BOS coming to see our work would make a fine end to the day and it’s still early enough set you up for an evening in Bridport.

The Portmanteau Gallery will be open between 10am and 4pm only on the following dates: 20, 21, 24 to 29 August 2016. I won’t be at the gallery every day so if you want to catch up with me and can’t make it to the PV your best bet will be to visit on Wednesday 24 or Friday 26 through Sunday 28 or call me to arrange a time.

For those who don’t know it, the Portmanteau Gallery is at 10 North Street, Bridport DT6 3JQ on the corner with Rax Lane where there is limited on-road parking as well as the car park. Look out for the yellow ART signs marked “21”, our Bridport Open Studios venue number.

Dorset Art Weeks: Venue 141

Photograph of David Smith's studio

The studio is transformed to gallery

I am opening up my studio as part of Dorset Art Weeks. Everything is set up and looking good ready for the public opening at 11am on Saturday 28th May. I am delighted to be showing a good number of brand new pieces: work that I have produced this year! I am also showing some of the “Black Squares” work I exhibited at Black Swan Arts, Frome, last November which hasn’t been seen in Bridport before.

Photograph of David Smith's studio

A mix of Black Squares and new erased field drawings ready for DAW 2016

The new work picks up where I left off last year before committing to the Black Squares theme for the Frome show, but clearly it has been developed with the experience of that focused process at play. There are new field drawings in colourful Inktense pencil, double and triple erasures and redactions, expressive ink drawings, new asemic text works and some sparse new pieces inspired by the coast which I have been wanting to do for almost a year!

Photograph of David Smith's studio

There’s work to suit a range of space: from small to large

Because there is so much new work – mostly imperial size or larger – I have had to hang more like an art fair than a gallery, which is fine if you remember this is just an open studios event!

I am not open every day during Dorset Art Weeks so check the opening times before you come. I will be open between 11am and 6pm only on the following dates: 28, 29, 30 May, 1, 3, 4, 5, 9, 10, 11, 12 June 2016. Other times strictly by appointment only.

The generosity of artists

Pastel by Anna Gahlin

Anna Gahlin’s contribution to “The Binding Grid of Creative Connection” and the packing it was in

I had a moving couple of hours opening and recording the contributions to my collaborative piece “The Binding Grid of Creative Connection” which I will be working on during the first two weeks of my show “Black Squares, Black Lines & Black Magic” at Black Swan Arts, Frome. So far 55 artists have contributed a total of 117 pieces for me to work with. I am really touched that so many people – people, mostly, I have never met – have taken so much time and care to make something for me to do with as I choose. People have trusted me with their art and given it in good heart. Most people packed their little 4″ x 4″ work with meticulous care. Many included a short note or a card with good wishes and words of support. Sometimes there was a little story about the piece and for me the greatest joy was when someone said how much they enjoyed thinking about and doing their piece. Pure inspiration. Thank you everyone. I will still accept contributions for the next two weeks. Do come and visit me at the gallery to see th eprogress and unfolding.

Painted metal piece by Martin Heron

Martin Heron’s contribution

I have had pieces from France, Norway, America and all over the UK. Artists of all ages, amateur and professional, experienced and emerging, have put themselves out to send a creative gift. Some people sent multiple contributions. Three was a frequent number but a few sent more than 10 pieces! As yet I am still to discover who sent a pack of sixteen wonderful, double-sided squares, carefully packed, but didn’t enclose even a clue to their maker. Please let me know who you are so I can credit you!

Anonymous contribution to "The Binding Grid of Creative Connection"

Anonymous contribution to “The Binding Grid of Creative Connection”

With so much care and generosity taken with these gifts I am really conscious that I want to do justice to them and make the contributors be proud they were a part of something. I start work on Saturday on it and at present have far too many ideas, but I’ll soon find my way through it. I say I start on Saturday but actually I have created a big black square and drawn a grid on it. I stuck my own first contribution on it:

Collage by David Smith

My own starting contribution for “The Binding Grid of Creative Connection”

Black Squares, Black Lines & Black Magic almost ready to go!

Installation shot upstairs at the Round Tower

Installation shot upstairs at the Round Tower

My show in the Round Tower at  Black Swan Arts in Frome is just about ready to roll! All the work is hung and just needs a final tweak and there are information boards to get up, then we will be ready for the private view tomorrow night, Friday 6th November 2015 from 6-8pm. The show is open to the public 7th-28th November 2015

Apart from the larger works on canvas I have done especially for this show there is a selection of recent works on paper including pieces that were in the Wells Art Contemporary and the RWA Drawn shows, if you missed them there. I have also included a group of small studies like the ones that proved so popular at Bridport Open Studios: they are a nice introduction to my work and make nice gifts for loved ones or yourself!

There are also two participatory pieces: one for artists and one for all visitors. I’ll write more about these in subsequent posts.

Upstairs at the Round Tower - installation shot

another installation shot upstairs at the Round Tower

The Binding Grid of Creative Connection

"Dance Steps" abstract painting by David Smith

“Dance Steps”
Acrylic on canvas 122cm x 122cm A poor reproduction of something that has little to do with the post!

I have decided on “The Binding Grid of Creative Connection” as the working title for the collaborative piece I will make during my “Black Squares, Black Lines & Black Magic” show at Black Swan Arts, Frome, next month. I have a feeling that the title may get added to with something in brackets, but we will see! So what does that mean? Well, it is a celebration of the incredibly positive and affirming nature of my experience with Twitter and the connections I have made with other creative people. The piece will be an attempt to anchor physically (bind) the goodwill and connected creativity of those people and to show my gratitude for their support. I have called it “Grid” because I often work with grids but also because of the idea of the National Grid: lines of power which spread energy across the land. I love the idea that groups of creative people are coming together through Twitter to create “ecologies of talent”, what Brian Eno refers to as “scenius”, the talent of a community (genius being the talent of an individual) where all sorts of people with a range of skills, abilities and facilities combine and contribute to enable great art and ideas to emerge. As Eno says in this clip from the John Peel Lecture the other day, it takes a lot of help from all sorts of people, including people sometimes refered to as hangers-on, for a creative scene to flourish. I think Twitter has the ability to support such “sceniuses” and “The Binding Grid of Creative Connection” is my way of giving it recognition. I have no idea how the piece will progress but I now have an idea how I will start the process, but you’ll have to wait for that.

One thing I have thought about is including some of the envelopes too – in fact at one point I thought of not opening the envelopes but displaying the work unseen! Those who know my work will recognise my fascination for the unseen, obscured, veiled and redacted from other work not least of which #Letter365. But I have said to everyone that I will give them a public credit for their contribution and mostly wont know who things are from if I don’t open the envelopes!

Images of some contibutions to The Binding Grid of Creative Connection

A few black square contributions

There seems to be a good response from people, but as I am not able to just pop in to Black Swan Arts I have no real idea exactly how many there might be so far. Thank you to all the kind and generous folk who have already sent contributions. More will always be welcome so get yours to me as soon as you can. So if you are an artist in any discipline please send your contribution to me c/o Black Squares, The Round Tower, Black Swan Arts, 2 Bridge Street, Frome, Somerset BA11 1BB. Please do it NOW! I will be creating the piece during the show which runs from 6 November – 29 November 2015 so if you wanted you could bring me your piece (I will accept submissions up to 21 November) but you know you’ll forget – so do it NOW! Don’t forget, when you send or deliver a piece you pass all physical and intellectual property rights to it as an object or idea over to me to use in any way that I see fit.

NB can you please make sure you put the correct postage on your package!

Also please note: I need to have your physical contribution. So if you make a digital piece please produce hard copy for me to use. If you are a musician or a poet or dancer or whatever you can still take part as long as you make your contribution into some kind of hard-copy 4″ x 4″ submission.

Footnote: thanks to Austin Kleon for reminding me in “Show Your Work” about Brian Eno’s concept of scenius