Tag Archives: Contemporary Art

#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.

“338 expressions on the journey of Hylaeus brevicornis”

“338 expressions on the journey of Hylaeus brevicornis” - abstract drawing with text by David Smith

“338 expressions on the journey of Hylaeus brevicornis”
Ink on handmade Indian rag paper mounted on archival cotton paper with printed text
70cm x 38cm

Although I had been invited to participate in the first of Lydia Needle’s “50 Bees: the interconnectedness of all things”, I was too busy to be able to accept. So it was wonderful to have a second chance this year. Lydia has chosen 50 British bee species and allocated one to each of the artists involved. Each artist has created their own original work in response, which will be paired with Lydia’s amazing needlefelt representations of the bees encased in antique containers. A really diverse and talented group of artists and makers have made some phenomenal work, so the exhibition at the Richard Jeffries Museum in Swindon is worth a visit if you are that way.

My bee is Hylaeus brevicornis, the Yellow-face Short-horned Bee. Lydia apologised that there was not enough space to have a full artist profile for everyone but asked for a 100-word statement describing the process of making the work. This is mine:

“I make abstract work, often minimalist and repetitive, that explores the patterns and processes of Nature, especially the interplay between chaos and control. To be asked to create work about this tiny bee was outside my typical process. To do the task justice involved much research, scribbling, play, thinking, interconnecting with everything, planning, discarding and then being somewhat more reasonable. It became clear that I could never explain the process of arriving at the work in my allotted 100 words, so I made some the words part of the artwork. I will only explain more to whoever buys the piece.”

Those of you who share my joy in complying with rules will note there are exactly 100 words in the statement. That might give you an idea on how you might access the work

The show runs till 24th June 2018

“Double Erasure – Winter Field” does double Wells

Double Erasure: Winter Field - drawing on paper by David Smith

“Double Erasure: Winter Field”
Multiply erased graphite on Canaletto paper 495mm x 695mm

I was delighted a couple of years back to have this piece, “Double Erasure: Winter Field”, shortlisted for the Wells Art Contemporary Awards. That was at the historic Bishop’s Palace at Wells in Somerset. I am doubly delighted that it is now selected for the inaugural show, “Connections” at the stunning new Wells Maltings cultural hub in Wells-Next-The-Sea, Norfolk

It’s always great to be included in an exhibition but the reason I am especially pleased to be part of this show is my history with the North Norfolk Coast, particularly Holkham Bay which is just to the East of Wells-Next-The-Sea. Work about that beach and the landscape behind it sparked the idea of my Tidelines project (which I hope one day soon to fulfill) and was instrumental in me reconnecting to my art practice and subsequently committing to it as a full-time, professional engagement.

This piece is from my erasure and redaction work, rooted in the landscape and coastline, which explores how the traces of history and events are never completely obliterated but can still be read and forever influence the present. The marks are made and erased, made and erased, like the similar-yet-unique patterns in the sand are made and erased twice each day. This piece specifically relates to Holkham West Sands, the marshes behind and the Essex marshes where I grew up.

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.

“The Transformed Land” takes another form

"Solid IV" Mixed media drawing by David Smith

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

“The Transformed Land” show I was part of at The Brewhouse, Taunton, and Circle Hospital in Bath last year is reappearing in a refreshed version at ACEarts, Somerton, Somerset from 26 May 2018 to 16 June 2018. Curated by Paul Newman and featuring a stellar group of artists including Linn O’Carroll, Deborah Westmancoat, Howard Phipps, David Daniels, Andrew Lansley and Jennifer Newbury amongst others.

Selected for the Bath Society of Artists show

"A Few Lines Where Once I Danced" Abstract drawing in ink on paper by David Smith

“A Few Lines Where Once I Danced”
Ink on Snowdon cartridge 59cm x 84cm

I am delighted that “A Few Lines Where Once I Danced” has been selected for the Bath Society of Artists show at the Victoria Art Gallery where it will be exhibited until 12 May 2018. It’s a particularly fine selection this year, well curated and hung, so worth a visit!

“If It’s OK With Rachel It’s OK With Me”

"If It's OK With Rachel It's OK With Me" abstract drawing by David Smith

“If It’s OK With Rachel It’s OK With Me”
Inktense pencils and Ink on St Cuthbert’s paper 559mm × 762mm

This is a piece that I started maybe a year ago! I finally made time to finish it off. I suppose it fits in my colour field drawings but it has a closer connection to my Tidelines work

Complicit

"Complicit l"  - abstract monoprint by David Smith

“Complicit l”
Plant extract stains on Snowdon Cartridge 59cm x 84cm

I have been working on this series since the turn of the year. They are, perhaps, the most political works I have ever made. I have always tried to lead an ethically decent life: I’ve campaigned on ecological issues, been on marches, try to buy locally, gardened organically and yet I rarely openly touch on these issues in my work. In my collages and Tidelines work I have certainly hinted at my anger and despair at the way we dump things in the oceans and my titles for pictures give the game away, but this is the first time I have started to explore my conflicted feelings about our consumerism and it’s intertwining with a capitalist system which is clearly breaking society and our environment. At last, everyone seems to be talking about the scourge of plastics, a dream gone wrong, and what we can do to cut down on our use of it before it totally chokes life here on the planet. This has encouraged me to deeply look again at what I can do to use less of the things that damage our world and I find that it is almost impossible to be free of complicity.

So I am starting from the standpoint of a favourite quote from Beth Orton and am trying to  “…learn the trick to turn|What’s not so pretty|Into something more beautiful”. I will be writing more about the series and the story behind these monoprints, but it needs a clearer mind before I do.

"Complicit l"  - abstract monoprint of plant extract stains

“Complicit l” (detail)
Plant extract stains on Snowdon Cartridge 59cm x 84cm

X Marks The Spot Where We Buried The Hatchet

"X Marks The Spot Where We Buried The Hatchet" abstract drawing by David Smith

“X Marks The Spot Where We Buried The Hatchet “
Erased graphite, Magic Tape and stickers on Snowdon cartridge paper 59cm x 84cm

After a period when I could not work on large drawings because of a bad back, I am now back on form and have been working on a strand of the erasure work I began during my 50 Collages Before Christmas project.

Detail from "X Marks The Spot Where We Buried The Hatchet" abstract drawing by David Smith

“X Marks The Spot Where We Buried The Hatchet” – detail
Erased graphite, Magic Tape and stickers on Snowdon cartridge paper 59cm x 84cm

50 Collages Before Christmas – an update

Collage by David Smith

“Making Up For Lost Time”
Collage: paper and photographic elements on card

I have been merrily working away at this project in a measured kind of way. It has been interesting to work with collage in a much bigger way than I have ever done before with some at A1 and one almost A0, though most are around the 50cm x 50cm mark. I have found that some have taken much more time than I ever could have imagined – just physically gluing and trimming takes proportionately longer to ensure everything is just right.

The reason I chose to do the project was to give me a focus. Having been out of the studio for a while I was stacked up with ideas and didn’t want to be flip-flopping about. Well that didn’t work: the project is spawning more ideas than ever and it’s difficult to focus on any of it.

However, I am happy with the direction things are going and I have quite a few pieces on the go and working well (plus a few that don’t want to go the way I hoped!) I have been blogging about the process on a-n so you can read more about it there. Below are some of the collages to date. I’ll create a page with all of them when the project is complete.