A-L/M-Z: The Mrs Jay and W. Gordon Smith Art Collection
The Mrs Jay and W. Gordon Smith art collection is the unique culmination of two lifetimes’ work in Scotland. The challenge was to create and publish a high-quality book highlighting their achievements and collection, which would enable individuals to acquire, in the book, their own piece of art, and a window onto Scottish art and artists of the last six decades. It accompanied a memorial exhibition held in January 2021 by Edinburgh’s Open Eye Gallery. To honour the collectors’ long-standing support of the arts, the proceeds of the exhibition and publication will be directed towards artist programmes and bursaries in Edinburgh.
W. Gordon Smith was an art critic, author, dramatist, photographer and filmmaker well-known for his iconic BBC arts programmes (Scope and Spectrum). Through his TV programmes and sympathetic, insightful exhibition reviews, as well as through the couple’s long-term project to seek out and acquire Scottish art, the pair gave invaluable support to Scottish artists, both known and obscure. The collection was started in the 1960s by W. Gordon Smith, enthusiastically supported by Jay and continued by her after his death, until she herself passed away in 2019. Their criteria for purchasing art, apart from a genuine appreciation of the work, was for the price not to exceed £1,000, no matter how tempted they were. Artists were frequently invited to view the growing collection in the Smiths’ home, leading to many close and fruitful relationships. Today, the collection includes around 170 artists and 300 artworks.
The goal of the publication was to focus on the artists and reproduce their works, which led to the distinctive format of a reference book, titled A–L/M–Z, such as one could have found on the collectors’ own bookshelves. In the role of designer and editor, I commissioned artist biographies, and researched and selected W. Gordon Smith’s typewritten exhibition reviews, which appear in the book alongside the artworks themselves. By including archival material as well as the purchasing details with the artworks and biographies, the relationship between the collectors and the artists is revealed, and the book becomes a time capsule representing the arts and cultural scene of the time. In sum, A–L/M–Z turned into collector’s item itself.
- Creative Directors Sigrid Schmeisser (NL)
- Art Directors –
- Designers Sigrid Schmeisser (NL)
- Illustrators –
- Photographers (Artwork Collection) Jed Gordon Creative
- Editors Sigrid Schmeisser (NL)
- Copywriters Siobhan McLaughlin (UK)
- Copywriters (Biography) Alexander Moffat (UK)
- Copyediting & Proofreading Helen Bleck (UK)
- Lithography Karl Grammlich GmbH (DE)
- Printer Karl Grammlich GmbH / Pliezhausen Josef Spinner Grossbuchbinderei / Ottersweier Graffiti Siebdruck GmbH / Reutlingen