Martin Smith’s practice consists of an on-going project investigating the formal language of the vessel and the way that it can both contain a space and define a place. He makes reference to elements of architectural language and makes use of the poetic qualities of mathematics and geometry. Investigations into both material and process underpin his research. He exhibits regularly in international galleries and museums and has extended the investigation beyond the autonomous ceramic object to multi-part series, wall installations, furniture and exhibition design.

A key figure in British ceramics, he studied at Bristol Polytechnic, Faculty of Art and at the Royal College of Art. Examples of his work are held in numerous public collections world-wide including the Victoria & Albert Museum, London; the National Museums of Modern Art, Tokyo and Kyoto; Los Angeles County Museum; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam and the Museum Boijman's van Beunigen, Rotterdam. He is Professor and Senior Research Fellow at the Royal College of Art, London.

In the foreword to the catalogue of his 1996 retrospective exhibition at the Museum Boijman's van Beunigen, Rotterdam, the Director, Chris Dercon compared his innovative and influential career to that of the late Hans Coper, and described him as '...the most abstract and geometrically orientated ceramist in England and possibly of our times.’