Crafting Enterprise meets Made in the Middle

James and Robyn Smith

"I find Robyn Smith’s work very interesting, the fact that it is miniature and interactive with words like ‘Danger Keep Out’. It looks like it is a mixture of different materials and I think it is about brains and how they work." James

  • Robyn Smith 3.jpg Pull yourself together bird brain, 2016. Mixed and digital media. Photo credit: Craftspace.
  • Robyn Smith 4.jpg Let me pick at your brain (foreground), 2016. Creating Neu(ral) (rear, left), 2016. Mixed and digital media. Photo credit: Craftspace.
  • James Brain.jpg James' artwork inspired by the work of Robyn Smith, 2017. Oil pastel on paper. Photo credit: Helen Tomkins
All Students

Where do your ideas come from?

My ideas all come from my own journey. This work is a product of me reflecting on my experience of schizophrenia. Usually my work is me telling myself something, rather than me telling the audience. I might only fully work out what the work is about after I have completed it. The piece shown in Made in the Middle is about the isolation and the barriers to communication that I experienced whilst suffering with a mental illness. 

What were the main materials that you used in this piece of work?

I already had the glass domes and I worked a lot with a plastic material called PLA which is used in 3D printing and some of the work is made from laser cut plywood. I used photocopying and printing to create the books and the rug. I created the chaise longues by hand at first but then in order to achieve a cleaner result the final pieces were 3D printed. Using materials in this way has raised lots of interesting questions for me about the nature of craft and the tension between placing the concept behind the work at the forefront and the emphasis placed on achieving a ‘perfect’ finish.

How was the work made?

As I have mentioned, 3D printing and laser cutting both played important roles in making this work and it is a process that takes time to get the best quality result. I had never used a 3D printer before and worked with Fablab in Sandwell to produce the various components of the work. I work from home and so obviously don’t have access to that kind of technology but it was very stimulating to meet the other people at Fablab and helped me to avoid the type of isolation that can arise from working at home.