Previously at the ICA - Events

Bob & Roberta Smith. Photo: Tim Newton

Culture Now: Bob & Roberta Smith

11 Jan 2013

Artist Bob & Roberta Smith is in conversation with ICA Executive Director Gregor Muir, as part of a series of Culture Now talks focusing on the Fourth Plinth and its shortlisted artists.

In November 2012, Bob & Roberta Smith spearheaded a campaign against the decision by Mayor of Tower Hamlets Lutfur Rahmen to put a Henry Moore sculpture up for auction, an artwork that had resided in London’s East End for 35 years before finding a home within the Yorkshire Sculpture Park after its surrounding estate was demolished in 1997. With his strong protest against its status to be sold stands alongside widespread condemnation and prompted fears of more publicly owned art being sold, his Culture Now talk comes in conjunction with our programme of events surrounding public art and the current Fourth Plinth: Contemporary Monument exhibition. 

The enigmatic Patrick Brill, better known as his pseudonym Bob & Roberta Smith, is a British contemporary artist. Graduating from the University of Reading, he went on to complete an MA at Goldsmiths College of Art before adopting his persona of Bob & Roberta Smith, becoming known for his text-based sign paintings exploring short, anonymous sentences written on wood, cardboard and canvas. Exploring the relationship between humour, politics and society he consistently questions the viewer’s approach of their everyday environment, using the languages of folk, punk and alternative protest movements to demolish established values and authorities.

In 2006, he both curated and participated in The Brick Lane Gallery’s Peace Camp, an exhibition and programme of events exploring artist’s perception of peace involving over 100 artists including Wolfgang Tillmans and Gavin Turk. His curatorial impact on a series of five art projects in the Thames Gateway area of Essex, and his donations of work to exhibitions by homeless chairties, Shelter and Crisis are but a few examples of his socially involved practice, maintaining the belief that freedom to produce art and freedom of speech are one and the same. He has become a robust model of the public minded and engaged artist.

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