Bob and Roberta Smith Unveil Art Installation At The Harris

The Harris is excited to announce a major new artwork by internationally renowned artists Bob and Roberta Smith between 4 June to 2 October 2021.

The work will take the form of a huge banner which will temporarily cover the front of the Grade 1 listed Harris building.

In addition the Harris will present a solo exhibition by the artist across its three special exhibition galleries.

Bob and Roberta Smith is actually one man, an artist, activist, art education advocate, writer and musician who assumed the pseudonym while he was living and working with his sister, Roberta.

After going to Art College he went to New York to train as a sign painter and now uses text as an art form, often creating colourful slogans on banners and placards using sign writers’ paint.

The artist, Bob and Roberta Smith said:

“‘Look Listen Make Things’ is a huge brightly coloured banner with an image of a hand painted sign conceived to joyously ask people to consider how we act and behave in relation to the world we live in. In artistic terms, of course, artists look at the world and then make images of it but what I have been interested in is how this process is not just confined to artists.

“Enter the Harris Museum or join the online portal and visitors are invited to engage with a series of works which explore this idea of ‘Art for all …. Made by all’ in more detail. Visitors will greeted by sculptures of key figures in Art and Art education accompanied by banners which are emblazoned large letter slogans.

“It’s very exciting to see my work brought together in a major Museum in the UK for the first time. It’s almost unimaginably mind boggling to think we have made an art work so large it engulfs the museum it was made for. It’s a kind of Christo but with lettering.

“Museums have been closed for a long time now, I hope ‘Look Listen Make Things’ is part of re-establishing art as a focal point not just for conversation but as a call for action to everyone. We are all creative, art is our human right.”

On show will be some of his most well-known works such as the paintings ‘A Letter to Michael Gove’; ‘Art Makes Children Powerful’; ‘Make Art Not War’ and a selection of his interpretive sculptural works including ‘This Is Amy Winehouse’.

First chance to see new work

The exhibition will include several new pieces including a series of fabric banners made by Elizabeth Cake with key texts from Smith, and this will be the first time that all of his sculptures of key figures in art education will be shown together.

Councillor Peter Kelly, Cabinet member for Culture and Leisure at Preston City Council, added,

“This exciting new work, installed temporarily on the front of the Harris building, will attract visitors from across the region to visit the city and enjoy Preston’s fantastic cultural offer. Bob and Roberta Smith is an artist whose work has gone on display in museums and art galleries around the world, who has work in the Tate collections and is an art education advocate. With his latest exhibition the Harris continues to build on its reputation as a leading venue for the display of contemporary art and new work. 

‘Look, Listen, Make Things’ is a sentiment close to the hearts of the people of Preston with its history of innovation in manufacturing and making and something for us all to reflect upon as the Harris museum fully reopens.”

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