Derick Smith is a visual artist who has worked with a variety of creative media. Derick started his career in design before moving into the field of chemical photography and after graduating from NCAD in 2012 he has moved on to painting and sculpture. He is a prize-winning artist having work exhibited nationally and internationally.


‘Untitled’, Acrylic and Clay, 40 x 60 cm, 2020

Where did you spend lockdown?

I spent lockdown in my parents house in Co. Meath having come back to undertake a 2 month self-directed residency while the house was empty. Lockdown took effect just as I had finished that two months and so I stayed on.


Did you have access to a studio during this time? If not, how did you continue to create work?

Fortunately I had access to an improvised studio, which was a bright spacious conservatory, and while I initially thought I would not be able to continue working everyday, in fact it became the only thing that anchored me and gave definition and meaning to the changing of days. 


Derick Smith’s home studio

Can you take me through your art making process? 

The majority of what I do is off canvas, in material preparation or testing or mark making etc. whereby I build up and catalogue all these marks and materials and studies. The next step is to take the most vibrant of these to channel into a single piece, in as far as possible, however it’s not uncommon for the initial study to show more life than the formal realisation. Using ‘Happy Birthday’ as an example, there is an accumulation of marks and materials in an almost explosive, chaotic way. This was the first such piece of its kind which broke from the formal orderliness of previous works and I believe it came as a result of the tension of lockdown. 


‘Happy Birthday’, Acrylic on Canvas, 35 x 45 cm

Did you experiment with any new materials or methodologies?

Originally I kept my work moving along familiar tracks, following a familiar thread, but as the weeks wore on I began to take on the influences of the new situation. This saw a drastic shift in the kind of things I was making and how I was making them. At times I felt a shortage of conventional surfaces such as paper to work on so I began to use cardboard or whatever was at hand so that the process could continue. 


Various material studies / process work, 2020

Given the limitations and restrictions of the last few months, did your art making process change at all?  If so, do you think this will continue to change how you will make art going forward?

Personally, I felt enormous shifts in my workflow regarding the way in which I had been planning or conceiving pieces or bodies of work. Prior to lockdown I felt a distant shape in the future where the works would find a home, such as an exhibition, and that shape rested on my thoughts and added a kind of pressure to produce for some future imaginary audience. That went out the window as my solo exhibition was cancelled and real world opportunities began to evaporate. The new situation brought the attention more fully into focus in the present and I found a kind of new freedom which, although erratic at times, reminded me a great deal of the boundless potential that attracted me to painting in the first place. Lockdown then became a time for experimentation and deeper research with a view to processing this uncertainty in the air and later picking up some of the various strands and bringing them to fruition in the new reality. The work needs to be made for its own sake.


Did you have any projects during this time that went ahead?

The only projects that went ahead for me were collaborations with other artists responding to lockdown. Both of which were realised virtually using skype or zoom. 


Do you have any upcoming projects?

I have no upcoming real world projects as I think it will be next year when I reschedule the solo show, however, I am planning more online collaborations.



All photographs were provided by Derick Smith. Thumbnail photo credit: √Čadaoin Curin. To see more of Derick’s work visit his website and Instagram.