Martin Smith ‘The Poetics of Geometry’

A key figure in British ceramics, Martin Smith is an artist who approaches clay with the mindset of an architect. He studied at Bristol Polytechnic Faculty of Art and Design and the Royal College of Art, emerging in the midst of the new ceramics movement in the late 1970s and becoming known for his multi-disciplinary approach to design and practice. Smith is a Professor Emeritus at the Royal College of Art having been Professor of Ceramics and Glass at the school for 16 years.

This exhibition presented new wall-based works produced by Smith which are characteristically ideas-driven, precision-made and explore illusory perspective and geometry. Smith describes:

‘Ceramic (fired clay) is the material from which this exhibition is made. It implies notions of use and the domestic but here it occupies the wall, the domain of painting and these notions become abstracted to imply definitions of place and space, substance and shadow and explore our sense of certainty and doubt.

Notions of interference underpin this new body of work. Two stones tossed into a still pool of water will produce two sets of concentric waves that will interfere with each other either magnifying or diminishing and setting up a complex, evolving system that will gradually subside again to stillness. Similarly, two sets of repeated lines laid one above another but slightly out of register will interfere and produce moiré patterns of pulsing bands moving across a surface. Throw into this mix two or more colours that also interfere and optically produce colours that are not actually present, systems of great complexity and subtlety are generated.’


‘Martin Smith is one of the most important ceramic artists in the world… More than ever, the artist shows us here that the universal values of geometry can penetrate to the centre of our emotional life.’

Paul Greenhalgh, historian, curator and author of Ceramic, Art and Civilsation.



Martin Smith

[ 1950
- Present ]
Martin Smith has achieved international recognition as one of the UK’s leading ceramic artists. His innovative and influential career has been compared to that of the late Hans Coper by Chris Dercon, who also described him as ‘… the most abstract and geometrically orientated ceramist in England and possibly of our times.’

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