Bridget Smith at Focal Point

Today we visited the Focal Point Gallery in southend forum to hear a talk by the artist currently exhibiting, Bridget Smith.


I had not previously seen this exhibition nor had I any idea as to what her work was about. I know from past experience that most of the focal point exhibitions have a lose connection to southend so this often gives clues to understanding the work. In the main gallery was four large cynotype prints. Straight away I could see that they were intended to be some sort of seascape (the southend connection). These prints had a strange surreal quality about them. I could see that they were not actual photographs of the sea but I could not work out what they were.

Bridget then arrived and talked about her exhibition and explained how she made the prints. It turned out that they were photographs of the seat arrangements inside various cinemas she has either worked in or visited over the years. I found this really interesting as there is virtually no connection between a cinema and a seascape but she managed to make a visual connection between the two. I suppose observation like this seperate good artists from run of the mill artists.

I found it particularily interesting when she talked about how she actually curated her work in the gallery. Focal point is a rather strange space with one large square room and one small rectangular one. Often I feel that it was not very well designed to be used as a gallery in particular they smaller rectangular room. That seems to work well for video but not a lot else. Bridget spoke about how she had to adopt her work to the space provided and overcome obstacles that she would not have accounted for such as lighting, air conditioning etc... This really got me thinking about my own plans to work out exactly what my paintings were going to be and in what arragement before I started making any. Bridget actually said "you have to take on the space when you make the work" and this made me realise that the displaying of the art plays such a large part in the perception of it by the viewer and good work can be ruined with a poor display the same as bad work can be made to look better in the hands of a good curator.

I will not be able to curate our end of year show and will have to take the space I have been given but after hearing Bridget speak I have decided to take on the space that I am given and make my decisions on exactly how I will display my work on the day we hang. This is a much more intuituve way of working and the end result should be a much more succesful display.

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