Summer 2007, WM #4: Shaw Smith @ The 50/50 Arts Collective

Summer 2007, WM #4: Shaw Smith @ The 50/50 Arts Collective
Shaw Smith, 2007 installation view, 50/50 arts collective, Victoria, BC

Introducing the Work of Shaw Smith

By Michele Robinson for WM Victoria, Canada


The first public showing of artwork by Shaw Smith consists of pieces created over the last year. The eleven unlabelled works on display at the Fifty Fifty Arts Collective illustrate this self-taught artist’s skill as a drawer and painter and the incredible amount of time that goes into each of his works.


Five small drawings of insects reflect Smith’s close attention to detail and meticulousness. Each insect is posed in a manner that might be used in the display of an entomological specimen, and although highly detailed, it becomes obvious that these creatures never lived. Created in ink on light card, Smith uses no color and employs the same pose for each. To the viewer it becomes apparent that these creepy-crawlers never crept nor crawled before they were put on display, unlike those that might appear in the glass cases of a hobbyist or collector.

The only drawing in this show that seems not to include careful patterning and has not obviously been created through Smith’s dotting technique evokes a sense of eeriness. A square wooden board supports the graphite drawing of what appears to be a caped man without a face. It is reminiscent of an old photograph pulled up from under the floorboards and has the feel of a found object. It starkly contrasts with the nature of the insects on display, and seems to have a much more emotional quality than the other pieces. The man is masked and cloaked, hidden, or at least hiding, from the gaze that penetrates and probes the spread-eagled insects opposite him. He retains a sense of mystery that is not apparent in the entomological imagery opposite him.

Smith’s ability as a painter is demonstrated in two works that have been done painstakingly in a series of dots on a colored ground. At first glance the two pieces look like rubber matting that’s been cut and pasted in a checkerboard pattern, but on closer inspection it becomes apparent each tiny dot has been dabbed on. These show Smith’s careful attention to detail as well as his interest in patterning, influenced by the Pointillist works of Seurat.

An installation piece includes an outdated typewriter where a message on a narrow card has unsuccessfully been attempted. The words are faded, misspelled and overlap each other which is due to each white key being covered by an orange earplug. Smith described this as a reference to his intolerance of mechanical noise, especially that of typewriters and keyboards and it is this type of imagery the artist is presently working on.

The introduction of Shaw Smith’s work to the public successfully combines drawings, paintings and multimedia work, demonstrating this local artist’s command of various media. His show at the Fifty Fifty Arts Collective runs from June 16 to 24, 2007 and future exhibitions have been proposed for the space at the Community Arts Council of Greater Victoria, though no dates have been confirmed as of yet.

whitehot gallery images, click a thumbnail.

Michele Robinson

Michele Robinson has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Victoria where she majored in history in art. Originally from Calgary, she now lives in British Columbia where she will pursue her Master of Arts in the fall, focusing on modern and contemporary art.

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