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‘A MODEL SOCIETY’ – Bird’s Gallery

Stuart Smith AA Ad 2014
A Model Society

Recent work plays on themes of the day to day urban environment.  Inspired by our relationship to objects Stuart has created a humorous collection of tabletop arrangements telling stories of travel and everyday life events for the viewer to connect and engage with. These fun and enjoyable compositions use toy trains, cars and figures from public and private collections drawing on his own experiences or just from the simple act of play. The enjoyment of playing with these collections is not lost on grownups which Stuart captures in his paintings as he continues to refine his distinctive approach to the traditional genre of still life.

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media release – ‘A MODEL SOCIETY’

Stuart Smith e-invitation



A migrant to these shores in 2010, Stuart Smith arrived with few possessions and a keen wanderlust. His still life paintings mix traditional craftsmanship with modern aesthetic through table top arrangements of toy cars, trains and figures to tell a variety of engaging stories. ‘A Model Society’ presents his most recent work and first solo exhibition.

Fascinated by the power of objects in public and private collections he sought out collectors local to the Northern Beaches where he discovered a passionate and generous collector who offered unrestricted access to his vast collection of toy cars.

‘At first I was so overwhelmed with the scale and handling the objects that I focused on individual toys and barely noticed the dialogue between them’.

Open minded and without preconception Stuart approaches each painting like a child at play, allowing the character and personality of each object to respond to another, suggesting dramatic scenes or snippets from everyday life. The results are a rediscovery of simple pleasures.

Stuart’s paintings have a charm and warmth that lies in the painter’s quiet and controlled use of both subject and medium. With subtle layering of oil paint on polished gesso surfaces he achieves strength in colour and tone enhancing the overall illusion. His intentions are not to create a photographic result but a window to another world where the painting process lets the subject shine.

Stuart Smith has been involved in number of Group Shows and Art Prizes since arriving in Australia in 2010, including: 2013; Eutick Memorial Still Life Award (the EMSLA), 2013; One to One, Hong Kong, 2013: Storytellers, Frances Keevil Gallery, 2012; Art Concerning the Environment, Scope Gallery, 2012; Eutick Memorial Still Life Award (the EMSLA), 2012; Camberwell Rotary Art Prize, 2011; National Trust Harper’s Mansion Art Prize, Sydney, 2011; Mosman Art Prize.

The exhibition ‘Stuart Smith – A Model Society’ is showing at Bird’s Gallery 236 High St Kew Melbourne VIC 3101 February 27 – March 15 2014 T: (03) 9855 0327 M: 0428 781 506

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An Old Flame


Early forms of blowtorch were called ‘blown lamps’ and originated as a tool for gold and silversmiths. They worked by blowing air by along a tube to a naked flame, dangerous work! The first patented model of this type is from France dated 1791 but this 20th century model still relied on a similar draught of air supplied naturally. This model is no longer in use but in it’s heyday would have produced high temperatures for a variety of metalworking tasks.

Blowtorch oil on canvas board


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Turkish Delight

The green glazed pot is likely to be from the Antep region on Turkey. It’s tall and slender shape suggests it was used to store or transport oil.

Attached to the shoulder are two large handles, ideal for securing the cargo during transportation. The long volumous body and neck width provides easy access for scooping or filling with a bucket but narrow enough for a person to pour by holding it at the bottom and by a handle.

Towards the base the jars tapers and gets thinner to allow for partial burying in the ground. It’s unstable to touch and wobbles slightly.

The vessels imperfection, chipped, flaking condition are perfect to observe.

Green Vessel oil on canvas

–Sold Private Collection–

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Late night bloomer

The beautiful flower of the orchid cactus opens and closes in a single night. The plant is sometimes called the night blooming cerus.

The large and colorful flower is crowned by its sizeable leafs and produces a pleasant sweet smelling fragrance.

The cacti’s ideal habitat is the canopy top of Central and South America rainforests. It grows “upon the leaf,” and lives on the surface of other plants. Like an orchid as the name Epiphyllum suggests but they are not a related species.

These flowers were kindly donated by a neighbour and placed for support in the beautiful ceramics bowls of Katherine Mahoney. These proved to be the ideal subjects for my first paintings upon return to Australia.

Orchid Cacti (Epiphyllum) with Jug (34 x 24cm) –SOLD PRIVATE COLLECTION–

Orchid Cacti (Epiphyllum) study (35 x 25cm)     –SOLD PRIVATE COLLECTION–

Orchid Cacti (Epiphyllum) with Bowl (30 x 22cm) –SOLD PRIVATE COLLECTION–






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Empty Vessel

This beautiful antiquity was found among an array of objects nestled underneath a wooden cartwheel. It’s original function was simple, to store and contain goods like wine, grain, olive oil and honey. The vessel’s unique color, shape and texture were about to be appreciated for another reason altogether in a second life as a garden ornament, sold at a Kentish garden centre.

This weathered earthenware vessel could to be between 75 to 150 years old and quite possibly arrived from Turkey, where they are abundant in the countryside. To preserve contents at cooler storage temperatures containers were buried, explaining the chipped and weathered exterior.

Soon after purchasing the vessel I heard a rumor to the contrary. It was that objects were being deliberately damaged and buried to speed up the aging process and meet the growing demand for antiquated objects in British taste.

The falsified history and the actual charm of the vessel started a whole new avenue of exploration for me as an artist.

The White Vessel oil on canvas (100cm x 60cm)

Sold Private Collection

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Drive the Big M

The Mercury car named after the messenger to the gods in Roman mythology was produced over six decades and from start to finish marketing campaigns struggled to find a strong identity.

It wasn’t different enough, had no individuality, didn’t stand out from the crowd and had to fight to compete in America’s mid-priced car market. Over the years the car became increasingly more bland until the brand was sapped of all distinction.

I enjoyed reading through the advertising slogans in each era trying to brake new ground. The “Drive the “Big M” (1950’s), “The shape you want to be in” (1985–1988), “All this and the quality of a Mercury” (1989–1994), “Imagine Yourself in a Mercury” (1995-1999), “Live life in your own lane” (1999-2004), “New Doors Opened” (2004–2011 ).

Finally Mercury vehicle production stopped in 2010.

The box for the toy version is anything but bland in my eyes.

Mercury Box (15 x 20cm) oil on canvas

Sold Art Pharmacy



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