Stephanie Smart

Stephanie Smart

Visual Art, Drawing

United Kingdom


Stephanie will be Artist-in-Residence at The Muse Gallery, 269 Portobello road, London from January 2013. She is being sponsored by: and

Paper garments: Stephanie has a mixed media BTEC Diploma, a BA(Hons) in Decorative Art and an MA in (philosophical) Cosmology. She says of her latest work:

 “In a museum in Istanbul at the start of 2010 I saw a kaftan worn by a Sultan that was made of paper and seemed to have been decorated with mathematical and seemingly mysterious script, geometry and text. I was struck by it, quite fascinated. A commentator has written that one example of such a vestment had on it: "Verses from the Quran as well as prayers. It was worn not to get magical effects but…as a form of worship to put the mind in a particular mode of devotion. It was worn particularly in times of battle…to have control over ones own mind by not committing excessive acts… forbidden by the very words inscribed in the shirt one wore.

Our clothes form a physical layer between our inner and outer worlds. Sometimes clothing acts as a veil, sometimes a suggestion, sometimes a statement and sometimes a disguise. One side of any cloth we place around ourselves, living or dead, touches our inner vulnerability and the other is exposed to outer scrutiny. I am interested in representing the ephemeral qualities of human beings, their religious/spiritual ideas, their memories, thoughts, feelings, visual impressions, ideas and imaginings. I see people as layered, collated, collaged and constructed works of art and am interested in drawing attention to this idea. I believe we each “wear” (that is, in some way display) personally collaged narratives around ourselves. Sometimes these are formed consciously and sometimes we exhibit previously hidden layers of our unconscious impressions but either way, like auras or second skins, they can be read by others. This externalized layer of narrative impression then influences and stimulates narrative in return. Working with paper, rather than with cloth, offers the garment up even more specifically as a canvas for drawing and script. With the placement of words and images on the surface of the garments I can direct a viewer’s judgments. It also transmutes our everyday treatment of paper (usually an ignored background surface).

There is something of the hospital gown about the simplicity of the shape of the paper kaftan. I hope that this correspondence and the fragile medium suggest the fragility of both the emotional psyche being portrayed and the physical body one might find inside such a garment. Since finishing my MA in Cosmology at the end of 2009 my art work has reflected my study of the metaphysical philosophies of ancient and modern man more than ever. The aura, Buddhist ideas such as Karma and the Daoist belief that we each have eight energetic bodily layers of ever increasing subtlety have been areas of particular focus; as have the practices of inner alchemy and mindfulness (both of which encourage the dissolving of psychological imagery). Stylistically my influences have also included: Stained-glass, the Persian and Indian miniature traditions, Illuminated manuscripts and maps, Icons and Calligraphy.”

Drawings: "After training in Decorative Arts my practice as an artist was for many years primarily concerned with stained-glass, stained-glass effect mosaics, and sculpture in glass. In this way I have educated my eye in respect of pattern, geometry and colour whilst nurturing an ever increasing personal fascination with the concept of translucency. After having looked through my primary medium for quite some while I have recently found within myself the need to step back somewhat and to consider figurative detail and external impression; if only in order to locate the bridge between these two realms (inner and outer). I believe in the discipline of drawing and am delighted to have returned to the primary practice of my childhood. My style as a fine artist is definitely and purposefully now informed by my background including inspiration gained from my academic study of spiritual and philosophical thought. I am beginning to understand the work of the (visual) artist as visual philosophy (looking so deeply at that which is external to oneself that eventually you can see someway into and through it). I hope that something of this will come across in my work as I combine portraiture with symbolism".