Banana Split: Spotlight on Mandy Smith

In the lead up to Banana Split, our first RIPE exhibition of the season, we’ll be catching up with each of the artists involved to find out more about their practice and their latest work.

First up is Mandy Smith, who graduated from Southampton Solent University last year. Mandy works with a variety of media including sculpture, printmaking, photography and digital moving image. Her work focuses largely on familial interactions, from the small every day, seemingly insignificant events that happen whilst bringing up children, to the sometimes overwhelming feelings of loss from birth, illness and death. Mandy’s choice of materials is modest, often using clothing and items sourced from the domestic setting, reworked by the artist to unsettling effect; through intervention in scale or material quality, she navigates a space between the bodily and the monstrous.

Hi Mandy! Last summer you exhibited as part of Ripe Bananas at the Alfred Arcade, what did you exhibit and how was that experience for you?
Last year at Ripe Bananas I exhibited a version of the work I made for my degree show, Tanoptic, which depicted a potential future in which other senses except sight are eliminated, and all body parts other than the eye have been discarded and lost. It was a fantastic experience to display my degree work again in a different space and enhancing the installation. It was also brilliant to be with some of the same artists I completed my degree with, and to meet new artists who graduated from Winchester School of Art. One of those artists, Bryn Lloyd, used DC motors in his installation to create kinetic sculptures. Meeting Bryn and sharing our skills and knowledge, led to my own experiments using DC motors, which has informed some of my recent works.

What has the last year been like since you graduated from University?
This last year has been a very positive experience. I’ve been able to continue making work at the Alfred Arcade, and have also had the amazing opportunity to be an Artist in Residence at Southampton Solent University. I’ve had a few exhibitions using existing sculptures and have made new work for others.

What have you seen in that last year that’s inspired you?
I’ve been to see so many great exhibitions in the last year. One of my highlights was Lee Bul at the Hayward; her early wearable sculptures were inspirational to me during my degree. Another great exhibition was Cathie Pilkington at the Pallant house. I loved her show there, which focused on the domestic. Also, Clara Hastrup’s movement and sound sculpture (Echinocactus Grusonii: Polyphonia Fibonacci, and Bill Viola’s recent exhibition at the RA.

What have you been working on lately what are you likely to exhibit in Banana Split?
I’ve been working on a new series of sculptures for Banana Split, some of which utilise the DC motors to create movement. The installation is called Lunarpause: A walk to the moon and back. The sculptures were created from a series of drawings I made during a brief spell of mental ill health that I suffered last year due to family issues; I was exasperated by overwhelming menopausal and emotional turmoil.

Do you have any projects lined up or anything else that you’ll be working on post Banana Split?
I’ve really enjoyed my recent foundation in printmaking at Red Hot Press, and am looking forward to introducing printmaking into my practice moving forward. I’ve also been offered a residency at the Hidden Wardrobe on Old Northam Road, as part of ‘a space’ arts new project, RIPE which is really exciting!