Bob and Roberta Smith: All Schools Should Be Art Schools
Art in the Bar
‘Art, images, artifacts, songs; culture are the principal means by which Human beings define themselves.’ Bob and Roberta Smith, Letter to Michael Gove, 2011
Following the death of Lucian Freud and Amy Winehouse in 2011, Bob and Roberta Smith wrote an open letter to Michael Gove expressing his deep concerns and frustrations with political decision making, state education and the proposed introduction of the EBacc - the English Baccalaureate - which would see Art, Design and Music side-lined in secondary education. Fuelled further by the increase in student tuition fees, currently capped at £9000 per year, Smith’s letter champions Britain’s creative and cultural diversity.
Following on from this letter and now gathering support from fellow artists, students and educators, Smith organised the Art Party Conference in Scarborough in 2013, a joyous celebration of art and a significant event where those who attended discussed the importance of art in education and in wider society. The day also included performances, films, music, lectures, seminars, comedy acts and podium speeches as well as a protest march to the venue where participants were encouraged to make their own banners and placards.
All Schools Should Be Art Schools is taken from one of Smith’s trademark hand painted signs. Commonly painted onto scraps of wood and roughly nailed together Bob and Roberta Smith’s messages are often political or social provocations aimed to instigate debate whilst simultaneously being humorous in their delivery. Colourful and bold, the signs aesthetics borrows heavily from folk art and are suggestive of makeshift notices and early punk protest movements.