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Ruth Helen Smith

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Ruth Helen Smith

Ruth Helen Smith is an artist based in Devon whose work centres on our relationship with the world and each other. Lately this has taken the form of still life, where locally grown produce is set inside illusionistic alcoves that appear to recess into the wall.

These still lifes examine how objects create connections between people, like touchpoints that cut across time and space. Even something as simple as a vegetable, lovingly grown by a neighbour and shared through the community, creates relationship. This became particularly poignant during the 2020 lockdowns when supermarket supply chains were put under strain, local small-scale suppliers kept people in the village stocked up and connected. The still lifes became meditations on the things that have been exposed during the pandemic. Some are celebrations of the good things whilst others read more like old layers being shed.

Ruth’s research into Roman frescoes also became particularly relevant due to the extra time spent at home. Imaginative vistas, architectural elements, and still life were depicted on walls to take the imagination of the dwellers beyond the physical limitations of the space. Ruth similarly started pushing against the boundaries of the wall by depicting the still lifes in alcoves. This fictional space also relates to imagining alternative futures and reflects the ‘boxes’ of our own homes. As the artist says, “Every object we bring into the home marks a connection to the rest of the world, and we have agency in deciding what those connections could look like.”

Ruth Helen Smith completed her MA and BA in Art History at The Courtauld Institute of Art, before studying figurative painting for two years at The Heatherley School of Fine Art. She has since been selected for numerous awards, exhibitions and art residencies and has held two solo exhibitions.

Instagram: @ruth.helen.smith

 

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