Ivan Smith


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Sited in the Barker Gate Rest Gardens (2006), Ivan Smith’s installation incorporating a series of 24 man-made pillars and site specific photography offered the viewer a different perspective of Nottingham city centre.

‘Underpin’ was a site-specific concrete installation incorporating a series of 24 man-made large concrete pillars and a selection of site-specific photographic socio/architectural/political images. Each individual image being trapped inside its own concrete coat, which viewers could access through slits carved out of one side of each concrete pillar.

The concrete pillars were architectural in form, referencing the imminent construction of a major contrmporary visual arts centre for Nottingham – the Centre for Contemporary Art Nottingham. Somewhat harsh in appearence, these forms carried the symbolic future of the new building and the city on its shoulders, while the photo documentary of the still images inside the pillars root the experience to the present, similar to a time capsule. The layout of the pillars in a rigid formation created a sense of stability, like foundations for an impending structure; their scale and material place you in a cemetery-type environment, headstones rather than pillars.

A residency period in Nottingham was undertaken to gain access to the city centre users spanning several months, and encompassing all facets of 24 hours in the life of a vibrant city centre. Access to and time spent with a wide range of organisations that either patrol or service the city centre was developed through the residency. Traveling with the Police and Dustmen allowed Ivan the opportunity to view through these peoples eyes how the city centre functions, which enabled him to access the general public from a different perspective.

‘In recent years both video and photography have become more central elements in the development of my work, ‘underpin’ extends this area by involving photography for the first time in a public site-specific work. Involving a collection of photographic images in a sculptural installation continues a history of confrontational work, which plays with audience’s sensibilities to physically engaging artwork, particularly in the public realm.’ (Ivan Smith, 2006)

The exhibition was dedicated to the memory of Ian Skoyles 1964 – 2006.

Commissioned by Future Factory at Nottingham Trent University.
Supported by Colin Watkin and St Mary’s Church.
Funded by Arts Council England


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