Dr. Linda B. M. Smith PSWA
What is your earliest memory associated with art? I remember always loving drawing and I think, from about 12 years of age, I used to get on a bus to London by myself to visit the Natural History Museum where I used to draw the animals and exhibits.
What was your favourite subject at school?
Please could you tell us who or what has had the most significant influence on your life?
My paternal grandmother, she was an incredibly spiritual and loving person, I witnessed this in her relationships with both her friends and family and in the way she worshiped God. Through her I learnt a lot about being empathetic towards others.
The person who had the greatest influence on my art career was Kathy Shaw, a glass artist that taught me at the City Lit and then in her studio in Stockwell, London. Kathy encouraged me to apply for competitions and to Central Saint Martins. She passed away in 2016 and I greatly miss her.
How would you describe yourself in 3 adjectives?
Inquisitive, creative, resourceful.
What motivates you?
What career accomplishment makes you most proud?
Achieving my PhD in Chemistry
When we can travel again, what international art destination would you most like to visit and why? I plan to go to Venice, as part of a group of artists that are undertaking a three-year part-time iconography course
What was the last piece of art you purchased?
I don’t tend to purchase art, as my grandchildren provide me with many gems.
Which person (alive or dead) would you most like to have dinner with and why?
Harriet Grote, she was the founder of the Society of Women Artists, initially, the Society of Female Artists (1855). I would love to know in her own words why she founded it, what she thinks of it today, what type of person she was and who else was involved with the society’s formation.
You have a PhD – please can you tell us about this – your motivation and outcome.
I had to leave school at 15 years of age to go to work to support the family. I returned to education in my mid to late 30’s whilst caring for my 5 children as a single parent. I embarked on a Chemistry degree without GCSE’s or A levels and the first year was really tough. I graduated with a 2:1, became a graduate member of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) and then went on to do my PhD, the title of which was ‘The Development and Applications of an Electronic Nose’. At the same time, I gained the professional qualification of a Chartered Chemist member of the RSC. My main motivation was to continue my education that had stopped abruptly earlier in my life, by undertaking a degree course and to show my children that it is never too late to pursue and achieve your dreams. An outcome of this was that it gave me confidence to tackle many different challenges.
Why is it that you changed career from that of a scientist to that of an artist?
I was made redundant in 2002 and decided to follow a more creative path as an artist, initially in stained glass and progressing to where I now use egg tempera.
Are you excited for your new role as president of the SWA?
I am excited to see how the society develops. Since first exhibiting with the SWA in 2014, becoming an associate member in 2015, a full member in 2016 and a council member in 2017, I have become committed to the society and aim to continue the good work that my predecessor’s, in particular, Soraya French PPSWA and Sue Jelley PPSWA have achieved. Through their hard work and commitment, they have developed a vibrant and well-respected society that encourages both established and young women artists to exhibit and sell their work within a prestigious London venue, The Mall Galleries.
What advice would you give to those aspiring to make a living out of selling their art in 2021?
Be true to yourself, believe in your abilities and in your work, striving constantly to improve your practice. To think of what Robert the Bruce supposedly said to his troops in 1314. ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again’.
What key piece of advice would you give your younger self?
Have the confidence to be who you are and follow your dreams
What are your aspirations for 2021?
To find creative ways to hold a successful exhibition for the SWA in these challenging times. One that will make SWA Members, Friends, Sponsors and exhibiting non-members proud to be a part of.
Any final words…..
I would like to thank Soraya French and the SWA council for their support, having faith in me and for giving me the opportunity to represent the society, which I truly appreciate.