Introducing Bob & Roberta Smith

Bob and Roberta Smith see art as an important element in democratic life. Much of their art takes the form of painted signs. Central to Bob and Roberta Smith’s thinking is the idea that campaigns are extended art works which include a variety of consciousness raising artefacts. He was an Artist Trustee of Tate between 2009 and 2013, and he is currently a trustee for the National Campaign for the Arts, and a patron of the NSEAD. He has recently been elected to be a Royal Academician and launched the Art Party in 2013. We caught up with Bob & Roberta ahead of his work being installed as part of Art Across The City 2014.

Who are you?

Two people actually: Bob Smith and my sister Roberta Smith.

Hello, how are you?

Not great really, my wife the artist Jessica Voorsanger was diagnosed with Breast Cancer but that was last year.  She is an extraordinary character, when she lost all her hair she took photo’s of herself as Kojak and Yul Brynner.  Even given her largely robust approach to these things it has not been a great year.

What do you do?

I fill every moment with something.

What have you been doing recently?


What are you doing for Art Across the City in Swansea?

Well its great. There is going to be a banner across part of a junction that will read ‘Art makes Children Powerful’. Its a statement I really believe in.  If you teach kids to draw, experiment, take risks they will learn that innovation is one of the great difficulties but also joys of life and they will be powerful people,  powerful individuals tend to be innovators.

What are your ideas behind the work?

Since 2011 i have been trying to get my generation of Artists to be vocal about the value of Art so our Government does not wash away the arts provision we have.  With others like The Cultural Learning Alliance, NSEAD,Whats Next? and The National Campaign for the Arts  I have been thinking about why I value art?.  There are lots of reasons but because in Schools it is about developing selfhood seems a good point to start.

What do you think the public will make of it?

I hope they enjoy it.  The colours are nice and the sentiment is hopeful, joyous even.