Bob and Roberta Smith
1963 (age 55–56)
Reading, Berkshire, England
|Education||University of Reading|
|Relatives||sister Tot Brill|
Patrick Brill OBE RA (born 1963), better known by his pseudonym Bob and Roberta Smith, is a British contemporary artist, writer, author, musician, art education advocate and keynote speaker. He is known for his "slogan" art, is an associate professor at Sir John Cass Department of Art at London Metropolitan University and has been curator of public art projects, like Art U Need. He was curator for the 2006 Peace Camp and created the 2013 Art Party to promote contemporary art and advocacy. His works have been exhibited and are in collections in Europe and the United States. Brill co-founded The Ken Ardley Playboys and hosts the Make Your Own Damn Music radio show.
Patrick Brill is the son of Frederick Brill (1920–1984), who was the Chelsea Art School head. He has a sister who is a psychiatric nurse, Roberta. He graduated from University of Reading and received a scholarship during that time to The British School at Rome. He then obtained his Master of Arts at Goldsmiths College, London.
Smith paints slogans in a brightly coloured lettering style on banners and discarded boards of wood and exhibits them in galleries of contemporary art across the world. The slogans are usually humorous musing on art, politics, popular culture, Britain and the world in general and they often support his activist campaigns, such as his 2002 amnesty on bad art at Pierogi Gallery, New York.
Noted for sign painting, Smith also makes sculpture using cement, as in his 2005 Cement Soup Kitchen at Beaconsfield Gallery, London. A sculpture he proposed was shortlisted for the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square, London.
[Smith] grew attracted to postures of amateurism and failure. His more recent work has suggested an interest in the utopian impulse of art as an agent for social change, although this often seems hedged with doubt or irony— Morgan Falconer
In March 2005 he was commissioned to act as curator on a series of five public art projects in the Thames Gateway housing estates of Essex. The projects were collectively named Art U Need and were documented in a diary-format book by Smith in 2007. Writing of a "glittering Notting Hill Gate" event to introduce the project, Lynn Barber said of Smith: "It was a startlingly unsuitable subject for such a glossy audience, but he held them spellbound. I see him as a sort of Ian Dury of the art world, someone who keeps on trucking, doing his own thing, making absolutely no concessions to fashion or marketability, but generally giving pleasure to everyone who comes across him."
A feature documentary about the work of Bob and Roberta Smith, Make Your Own Damn Art: the world of Bob and Roberta Smith, directed by John Rogers, premiered at the East End Film Festival in 2012.
In 2013, he was on the UK Museum of the Year selection panel. He is on the Tate board as an artist member.
He has spoken as an advocate for art education and the arts and has been a keynote speaker at symposia and conferences. A recent example of his gift for merging art and politics was illustrated in the 2006 exhibition, "Peace Camp." Smith took part in and curated the show held at The Brick Lane Gallery that explored artists perceptions on Peace. Gavin Turk, Wolfgang Tillmans, and more than 100 other artists were featured. He created a project, the Art Party, in 2013 to make contemporary art more accessible, demonstrate its ability to influence meaningful conversation and political thought. It was launched at the Pierogi Gallery in New York and at the Hales Gallery. An Arts Council sponsored a two-day conference at Crescent Arts in North Yorkshire that year. It brought more than 2000 people who attended discussions of art education in schools and lectures, listened to music and attended performances.
Brill is an associate professor at the Sir John Cass Department of Art, Media and Design at London Metropolitan University, teaching bachelor and graduate students. He is also a course leader for the Master of Fine Arts program, researcher and co-lead with Oriana Fox of the Public Acts studio and tutors in fine art.
Brill performs music, often with a group he co-founded, The Ken Ardley Playboys, who had their first 45 released by Billy Childish on his label Hangman Records. Brill hosts The Bob & Roberta Smith Radio Show called Make Your Own Damn Music on Resonance FM.