About Bob and Roberta Smith: Art For All

Bob and Roberta Smith responded to YSP’s National Arts Education Archive in a project celebrating the archive’s 30th anniversary.

Bob and Roberta Smith’s installation Art for All was developed in response to the holdings of the National Arts Education Archive (NAEA) at YSP, which documents over 100 years of art education. Celebrating the 30th anniversary of the archive, Art For All extended the artist’s provocative advocacy for the role of art in lives and education and invited ideas toward an art curriculum for the digital 21st century.

Sharing key material and ideas from the NAEA, including the original artwork for A. E. Halliwell’s iconic travel posters, each bay in the gallery presented a pivotal era in art education from 1914 to the present day, including The Child Art Movement and Basic Design.

The exhibition, and major open-air work Art Makes Children Powerful (2013), demonstrated the artist’s continued commitment to the right of everyone, especially children, to access art, as well as the continued relevance of the NAEA.

Art for All extended Smith’s Arbroath Template project, an interactive artwork first commissioned in 2014 by Hospitalfield, Arbroath which called for YSP visitors to use a basic 30cm square template to make and share their own art across social media. Visitors were invited to contribute to the project during Art for All: Pop-up Art School, a week of interactive activities for all ages in August 2015, the results of which were included in the exhibition. 

Born in London in 1963, Bob and Roberta Smith is the adopted persona of the artist Patrick Brill. Brill chose the pseudonym shortly after graduating from Goldsmiths College in 1991, wishing to create a more egalitarian platform for art making. The name also references his sister Roberta with whom the artist collaborated in the early years of his career.

Continuing his campaign for improved arts education, Smith launched the Art Party in 2013 with Crescent Arts, Scarborough in order to better advocate the arts to Government. Frustrated with Michael Gove’s decisions whilst education secretary, the artist stood against the MP in his Surrey Heath constituency at the 2015 general election.

Smith has had numerous solo exhibitions and his work can be found in public and private collections internationally. The artist lives and works in London.