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Poetics of Geometry installation at Messums London 2023

photo: Ollie Hammick courtesy Messums London

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.’


He trained at Bristol Polytechnic Faculty of Art and Design and the Royal College of Art, and sees himself as an artist, making his work with the mindset of an architect and meticulously planning each piece.

Since the start of his career in the late 1970s, Smith has exhibited internationally, and examples of his work can be found in many public collections worldwide. A major retrospective was held at the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, in 1996 and in 2001 he made Wavelength, a site-specific work for Tate St. Ives. He is also known for his multi-disciplinary approach to design and site-specific furniture. In 2016 he was interviewed for the National Life Stories Collection at the British Library.


Previously Professor of Ceramics and Glass at the Royal College of Art, Smith, as Senior Research Fellow, has recently completed a major research project investigating the 'Potential of the Digitally Printed Ceramic Surface'. This has led to the establishment of Smith&Brown Ltd a digital print production and consultancy studio. His interest in furniture and design can be seen alongside each other in the domestic-style gallery space he designed in 2015 for the Anthony Shaw Collection in York Art Gallery.


His continuing practice in the field of ceramics 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. Investigations into both material and process underpin his work. He makes reference to elements of architectural language and utilizes the poetic qualities of mathematics and geometry. “Space and Places”, at Marsden Woo (2017) was summed up in the words of Oliver Watson “They mark the culmination and combination of all explorations over the last decades - architecture, clay, colour, pattern, light and shade, the controlled and the random, the cerebral and the visceral”. 

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