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Bob and Roberta Smith RA

Bob and Roberta Smith RA

Bob and Roberta Smith RA uses text as an art form, painting his bold and inspirational slogans reminding us to Make Art Not War.

Artist profile

Bob and Roberta Smith RA, one of the newest Royal Academicians, is the pseudonym of artist Patrick Brill. Born in London, he studied at the University of Reading from 1981 to 1985 and Goldsmiths College in 1991.

Smith trained as a sign painter in New York and uses text as an art form, creating colourful slogans on banners and placards that challenge elitism and advocate the importance of creativity in politics and education. His best known works are Make Art Not War, 1997, and Letter to Michael Gove, 2011, a letter to the UK Secretary of State for Education reprimanding him for the “destruction of Britain’s ability to draw, design and sing”.

His curatorial projects include Art U Need: An Outdoor Revolution, which transformed public spaces in the Thames Gateway, 2005-2006, and Peace Camp at The Brick Lane Gallery, 2006, an exploration of artists’ perceptions of peace. A regular speaker at conferences and symposia, he initiated the Arts’ Party Conference in 2013.

As well as hosting a radio show on Resonance FM, Bob and Roberta Smith is a writer and musician, often performing with the Ken Ardley Playboy band. In 2009, he was appointed as a Tate Trustee and is Associate Professor at the Sir John Cass Faculty of Art at London Metropolitan University. In 2014 he released his first feature length film Art Party. A satirical critique of the punitive government initiatives introduced by Michael Gove MP and a defence of the importance of Art education and culture in society that manifests as part documentary, part protest film and part musical road movie.

Photo: Benedict Johnson