Sandra Smith is our artist of the month and it based at Fenners.
How would you describe your current practice (eg materials, techniques, themes, key questions, approach)?
I am a painter and educator. As a painter I make images connected to places I live in or have moved through- domestic spaces, urban and suburban environments, or sites of cultural importance. I see them as pictorial re-constructions of my world. I use drawing systems, geometry, poured and drawn paint, photography, photoshop, collage, oils and pigments with painting mediums on canvas and any tools that allow me to ‘re-build’ the scene with empathy to its physicality. Some works lend themselves more to intuitive painterly modes of working and some to ‘designed process’ pieces, rather akin to flat sculptures. Almost all are body scale, although recently I have been trying to navigate some smaller scale works.
What are you working on at the moment (forthcoming exhibitions, events, workshops, etc)?
I have two large works in progress. One is a long held ambition to make a large painting of the Shredded Wheat factory in WGC using chalk (sustainably) extracted from local fields to make pigment for the silos that is poured into stencils. (See attached film of work in progress to date) The other is an interior of a writers live/work space. I have also been making geometry drawings exploring the proportions of the human form and the relationship of these proportion to the painters rectangles. I am using these for teaching as well as personal research. The physical spatial relationship of the viewer and the maker to the work is very important to me, hence these investigations.
What are you plans for the coming year?
Just to paint as much as possible really, in the time when I am not teaching. Paintings this year started well, but then my time became subsumed in learning new skills to create online teaching resources for the pandemic. I would like to finish the above paintings as well as start a new one based on the interior of the baptistry in Pisa. I have been working on the floor patterns of the baptistry for a long time and I now understand them, so can start building the painting ideas. There are a few more ideas based on interiors and landscapes as well. So this year is all about getting more paintings up and running.
What is the question that you most get asked about your work?
When will it be finished? When are you going to have an exhibition?
Who are what inspires you?
This is endless. So I am going to list things until the space runs out….firstly people, stories, life, then visionaries, alternative paradigms and utopian dreams, artists initiatives, Black Mountain College, Garden City Movements, Buckminster Fuller, Keith Critchlow, Paul Marchant, Said Hossein Nasr, Kathleen Raine, William Blake, early Modernists, Bauhaus, Le Corbusier, Sinan, Medieval Cathedrals, the Al Hambra, indigenous culture, craft traditions, Bernard Cohen, Prunella Clough, David Hepher, Phylidda Barlow, Ed Allington, Theodore Schwenk, Paul Nash, Anselm Kiefer, Rita Angus, Paul Jackson, Josef and Annie Albers, Bernt and Hilla Becher….and on it goes. I’m not sure if there’s a clear picture emerging here? I could go on but I better not..
Which artists do you most admire and why?
How has your relationship with Digswell Arts strengthened your practice as an artist?
The arts trust have given me a warm, clean, subsidised space in which to work for which I can’t thank them enough. It is very difficult to sustain a practice without a good affordable space in which to realise the work- especially large scale- and this is harder to find nowadays then it was when I started out. The support the Arts Trust gives is the key to my ambition of building a good body of work. My colleagues are an encouraging bunch of like-minded people. I believe in this community of artists and value them highly.
Please give details of your website and social media contacts
I don’t have any for my work as yet, but will look at this once the work has built up a bit more.