"I think and think and think and think and then I paint around the think"
Anonymous 7 year old.
Exhibition Dates: 8 July – 1 August 1998
Humble everyday objects and phenomena from sea, land and urban based activities have intrigued John Firth-Smith since childhood. A discarded rudder, colours of a corroded anchor, a coil of rope, a paint splattered ladder, an old pitch fork, the shape of a hull, the bloom of diesel oil on water, the rusted base of an uprooted water tank, the structure of an ancient farm gate, the end of a piece of wire ... all this seen and felt phenomena are examples of the experience that underpins Firth-Smith's work.
Yet, in the terrible solitude of the studio before a mark is made the artist is confronted with a zero point - a point where nothing can be predicted. All the drawings, notes, photographs, conversations and reputations are sidelined. While the accidental, the unknown, the strange and the impossible may activate the artist's inner promptings, again, nothing can be predicted.
To harness this experience into a work of art that has shared meaning, the artist mobilises his creative and formal resources in a passionate struggle with paint that is unique and cannot be repeated or imitated. In the artist's hands the oil paint, like the sea flows across the canvas immersing some elements and coming up abruptly against others - decisions are made - paint is scraped, removed or added, structural elements re-aligned, yet the thing that really counts is the transmission of emotion.