Paul Smith Bio Lecture (Critical Reflection)

– Joined the army – 16 years 3 weeks – didn’t really know what to do in life – a bit rebellious at school – older brother joined so it seemed life a good escape
– The cold war – Ireland and the Russians – Fed loads of political propoganda – camp was blown up by the IRA – explosives expert
– Given a large bridge in Germany to blow up and that was the mission – boring – they needed a medic, 6 week training course – stood around at training and picked up the camera – took a 6week training course and he was a photographer – document everything that was going on
– Disliked the army so much so he wanted to leave, did an arts foundation course and applied to coventry to study fine art – wanted to do photography and print making – interested in Jimmy Pike, research project around him – contacted art communities in Australia and 5 moths later he came back. Went hunting and gathering – Decided to take a year out to work as a photographer – Because of the medical background and australia, so worked as a photographer in the duke of Edinburgh award and went to places other photographers didn’t have access to places others didn’t – also took photos of mountain climbers and a brief, documentary style work.
– Finished degree – the went to the royal college of art – access to turner prize nominees – variety of inspiring artists – didn’t have a focus – told to explore why he joined the army- and he realised that it was the suspicion of what it was like, the pictures were absent of blood and gore because of the fantasies of war – Looked on the macs in coventry and found photoshop, and he was taught so he could make a series of self-portraits, all shot on film and scanned into the computers – inspiration from films, and the imperial museum – artist rifles are the SAS, brother squad rant sergeant major – he was inspired by the fantasy of the army – it was a complicated process – exhibited work at the end of the royal college of art – Charles Sarchy came along to the final show and he brought 13 pieces of his work, he said go and do something else.- other inspiration from the army was ladism – he asked his friends to send him images of when they went out = Looking for simple effects – had to think how to make the images seem like snapshots – exploring sexual orientation in photographs – elton john was bought one of the images – people would want to not be in the picture, and he wanted that too – printed out as if they were from boots – Charles Sarchy bought 12 from the images and then 2 from the army photos- how the night photos began was that he had a house party because of celebration and his friend photographed him in a state, processed the images in boots and was shocked with the outcome – a memory that can’t remember, but the photograph records it
– Exhibited in the starchy gallery, boosted his work – produces a series of five prints, all of them sold out – downside of it is taking out production costs – difficult to make a living
– film director for a london company – had to make a showreel – they paid 6,000 a day – worked on an idea for 3days – the video had different loops – everything was timed to half a second, complicated to time – exhibited in galleries – post production would now cost 80,000 –
– from that he got a phone call from a graphic design – asked to make an album cover for robbie williams – brief was having robbie multiple times in sport – needed an agent because they told him to book wembley stadium, mike george – he could book chelsea stadium – £500 an hour to book chelsea stadium – graphic designer designed logo, clothes designed for robbie – it was constant so he couldn’t take the chance that something could go wrong – earlier work resinates from the robbie williams job – each picture was sold as artwork
– Couldn’t just do multiple work, so took inspiration from childhood, all photographs with the camera looking up, used cranes – action heroes as themes
– Wanted to change the perspective – he wanted to make digital post-production as an aesthetic – difficult post production work Pushed the boundaries of pornography to make it not erotic
– got some odd projects – get posters of people being knackered – get commissioned a lot for some commercial work
– Then started a series thinking about celebrity icons – changing himself into celebrity icons – the point was changing it from him when does ir get recognisable for someone else – used props to look like the celebrities
– last series called impact – younger brother who is also in the army – bullets that had been used in gun crime – collection of weird bullets with weird stories


Critical Reflection

I was aware of Smith’s work from the open day presentation and researching it for my art project in A level. But this lecture went further into the depth of this work, showing all projects and how he got to that place as a photographer. It definitely contextualised photography into a really life scenario, explaining about the costs, the interests, the awards and the difficulties of photographing a project. All the dedication that went into each piece was inspirational, and even though my project for assignment 1 doesn’t heavily link with his themes of masculinity; hearing about how he tackled certain issues made me want to go out and shoot, and stick with my project through thick and thin. His journey to get to photography was possibly the most inspirational, through the army and researching Jimmy Pike on a trip around the world. All the dedication that Smith committed to photography has inspired me to do more with my time and create a profession for myself, starting with assignment 1.


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