Lillie Square

Crynant Plant by Ruth Helen Smith


Concrete Dancers by Ruth Helen Smith



Concrete Pump by Ruth Helen Smith





Painting from a crane in Battersea Power Station is the latest development in Ruth Smith’s ongoing project depicting roadworks and construction sites across London. She is intrigued by these short glimpses of the bones beneath the environments we come to know, touch and see, holding the city together yet often taken for granted. Ruth sees an affinity between her practice and the work of the engineers who construct the city, where raw materials are re-organised to create new artefacts and experiences. In both, a kind of order emerges from the chaos. Mazes are formalised into grids. New structures rise from the tangles of demolition sites and excavations. A legible image emerges from a confusing, indistinct mess of shapes. These attempts to organise, however, are undercut by nature. The second law of thermodynamics stipulates that entropy always increases; we always create more disorder than order. Tubed paints are pushed out of their neat confines, pressed into one another and pushed over taught canvas like concrete poured and raked over reinforcing steel mesh. These ideas continue beyond the painted surface to the support behind. Making her own canvases and mixing her own primer using marble dust, Ruth paints on site on the reverse so as to transport several stacked at once. Later she constructs new stretcher bars to fit the painted image and re-stretches the canvas. These stretcher bars and the woven web of the canvas relate to the grid, the tension of its structure and inconsistencies with its efficiency.