How did you get into your line of work, or has it come to you naturally?
I’d always made art since early childhood, though not in any formal, try to show / sell it, way. About 15 years ago I used to run techno club nights, as part of this I used to flypost quite heavily to promote the nights. I enjoyed the response the flyposters were getting and it occurred to me that I could play with this format and paste up non-adversing stuff, i.e. ‘art’. So I started making collages, screen prints and text based pieces and pasting them up around Bristol & Berlin (I lived in both during this time). I didn’t know it at first, but this was what street artists call ‘wheat pasting’.
How would you describe your style?What was the vision behind your works at the Moniker Art Fair 2015?
My work takes a broadly ‘collage’ approach using ‘found items’ / appropriation, particularly of pop-culture items. I never really felt the desire to paint or draw from scratch, I was/am much more interested in the combination and re-presentation of cultural artefacts. This echoes my time as a DJ, where it never interested me to try make new records (as most of my peers were doing), I was fascinated with trying to compose sets of disparate material, but with an overall techno/electro feel. I was somewhat known for this in Bristol at the time.
The works Smithson are showing at Moniker are collages. I have taken source material, mainly of recognisable people from the recent past, and worked over these with slogans & text I have made into stickers, and other collage elements items, that (I hope) are both intriguing and playful. I think collage can be quite a powerful medium, all the items had a previous life and in lots of ways collage plays with these associations.
Where did you get your inspiration? How long did it take to bring this project from concept to completion?
The inspiration comes from ‘playing’ in the studio, I think this is a hugely important part of being an artist. I work in a very intuitive way. Taking my store of found items and basically seeing how they sit together, what new thing is formed when combining them. This then leads to more rigorous artistic enquiry and hopefully a new body of work. Though of course lots of things are discarded along the way as not working. The process took about four weeks to actually do, but many of the ideas had been ‘loose ideas’ for quite some time. I like to work this way, not forcing anything, almost letting the work make itself.
Why do you think it is important to champion contemporary art and its artists?
Very interesting question! In some ways I don’t know, I make work as I have a very personal need to, I think it’s my way of expressing myself, my reaction to the confusion of the world. In general I guess I’d say that art is a quest to reveal the truth and beauty of the world, and that it’s power is it’s ability to do so in more emotional ways that straight forward discourse or written articles can. To me this reveals deeper things about the human condition.
Apart from the Moniker Art Fair, what else can be done to showcase the works of under the radar urban artists? What kind of reaction do you hope guests will have at this years Art Fair?
I actually think that urban artists get loads of exposure, and I wouldn’t make a distinction between under the radar ‘urban’ or ‘non-urban’ artists. To (mis)quote John Peel, art is ‘either really good or bad or exciting or not exciting’. There are lots of under the radar artists making very exciting art, and there is no magic wand to getting them more exposure. They just need to continue making valid work and continue to try get shown by galleries etc.
My real hope is that visitors to Moniker will think ‘wow’, simple as that. I don’t think there needs to be any message they take away or any particular style they think is special. Just that they will be awestruck by how much truly exciting artwork there is crammed into one fair. To me Moniker does this, and I’m no real fan of art fairs in general so that is definite praise from me!
Are there any artists exhibiting at the fair that you are excited to see? What’s next for you?
I recently did a two man show with Adam Koukoudakis and I saw his work really grow during that show so I am very interested to see what is next from him. I am also desperate to see Eric Haach’s work in the flesh, I am a huge fan from his social media posts and fingers crossed it’s as good as I think in real life. Plus WK Interact, Ally McIntyre and strangely Nick Walker, who I’ve never been a big fan of but who’s new work seems very interesting.
Don’t miss theMoniker Art Fair, thepremier contemporary urban art fair, which takes place at The Old Truman Brewey from Thursday 15 to Sunday 18 October.
Quote FOUR50 to claim 50% off the ticket price by clicking the link above.