We arrived in Southend to see this show a bit early giving us a chance to have a walk around the town. It is a bit like Folkestone in Kent, but this is in Essex, facing out to the estuary and the North Sea. Nice seafront, very 1950’s British.
The Focal Point Gallery is next to a couple of colleges so we thought that this would get some students in, but no, a whole load of people who looked like the Art Crowd, had come to see the show. A very large turn out of people.
No wonder. I did not really know her work. Wow. What fabulous pieces. Smith has moved from more documentary works to more abstract works. From works with interesting objects to the objects as the subjects. Wow.
The first room had lights like globes and large blue works on aluminium, with the outline of what turned out to be cinema chairs in white, echoing seascapes. Here we were, audience and participators by our absence in the work, by our presence, viewing the work. This image is repeated in another room which contains a similar image, but on just one wall, on draped materials, partly like a curtain, a cinema curtain, and partly a tapestry draping down onto the floor. Where does the art stop and the observer begin? What is being observed, the cinema image or the art? I loved it.
And then, in a corridor facing the glass front of the building a series of Perspex works with a colour pattern engraved onto each piece and a hole in each through which a spotlight falls creating a contrasting colour shadow. Light and shade. Stunning stuff. Completely Original. An artist hits her stride. Confident, vibrant, forceful. Deceptively simple, but so much more, Intellectual, aesthetic, minimal.
Go see. Fabulous.